Sharon: A Life in Times of Turmoil
By Freddy Eytan
'I am trying to look at Sharon's decision making in 20 chapters," says author Freddy Eytan in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
He begins his book, Sharon: A Life in Times of Turmoil, on a personal note, with the fire that destroyed Sharon's ranch home only months before his second wife, Lily, died of cancer in 2000. Eytan depicts a man, one of the last of his generation, watching the physical reality of his life going up in flames. But the proverbial phoenix rose again from the ashes.
In spite of the personal beginning, Eytan moves quickly through Sharon's life and, by p.109, delves into his term as prime minister that began in 2001. In so doing he passes quickly through, and skips altogether over, some of Sharon's more contentious moments.
The Kahan Commission report on the Sabra and Shatilla massacre is summed up in one line. It is preceded by a description of how Sharon confronted the head of the Christian Phalangists, Elie Hobeika, whose men committed the atrocities. According to Eytan, Sharon yelled at him and said, "You were not supposed to do this. I never asked you to massacre people in the camps. If I had wanted this to happen, I would have gone in with my tanks. Believe me you will pay for this!"
Eytan skips out altogether many of his political battles with rivals, including much of his tense relationship with Menachem Begin and the question of whether or not Sharon lied to him about his intentions to go beyond the 40 kilometer line in southern Lebanon and onward to Beirut.
Eytan speaks of the "savagery" and "brutality" with which Unit 101 carried out reprisal raids against Jordanians and Palestinians, but failed to mention that the operation was actually Sharon's idea.
With respect to the corruption charges regarding illegal campaign financing and bribery, Eytan faulted Omri, adding that Sharon was not involved.
Eytan says that he deliberately downplayed the Lebanese massacre. In keeping the focus on Sharon's diplomatic actions he steers readers away from Sabra and Shatilla and some of the stigma attached to Sharon's early years, all of which he says have already been dealt with in other works.
Attempting to spark the interest of foreign readers, Eytan focuses on Sharon's diplomatic interactions with world leaders. Included in the list of stories is the 1998 helicopter ride Sharon, then foreign minister, gave to American president George Bush, back when he was only the governor of Texas.