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Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait
By Uri Dan
A book that could only be written by the longtime associate of Ariel Sharon that Uri Dan is, Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait is written as a series of snapshots.
It begins with the night Dan met Sharon as a 19-year-old military reporter and ends the moment he heard the news of Sharon's stroke. It includes their last conversation upon Dan's return from a trip to New York on January 2.
"I couldn't help telling him that the hot dogs at Nathan's, which he loved, were as delicious as ever," writes Dan.
It is not a comprehensive narrative but rather a series of vignettes illustrating critical moments from Sharon's military, political, diplomatic and personal life. There is little in the book that would surprise the reader who knows Sharon's story; rather these anecdotes illuminate the familiar.
Among the points highlighted in the book is Sharon's role in the destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981; a move he also took credit for in his autobiography. There are also some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits. It transpires, for example, that Sharon was trying to set a date for bombing the reactor at the same time that he was arranging a meeting between Begin and the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
The government felt pressed for time as the reactor was almost ready to produce fissionable material. But it didn't want to execute the bombing until after the meeting, fearing that if it was held before, Egypt would have to cancel in protest.
While he was trying to take Egypt's needs into consideration, Sharon attempted to time the meeting to bring it as close as possible to the date of the Israeli elections in hopes of shoring up the Likud.
Like all the other authors, Dan includes the pain of his son Gur's death in An Intimate Portrait. But no one else has the same level of personal detail, according to Dan.
The author describes how he was in a car with Sharon and his wife Lily in Tel Aviv late one night shortly after Gur's death.
"There was a thunderstorm with lightning flashes streaking the sky, from which torrential rain was pouring. Seated in the back, I heard my friend's stifled sobs and, suddenly, 'Life has no meaning any more.'"