LITERATURE

A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion

Farrar. Aug. 2019. 816p. ISBN 9780374112646. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781429951845. BIOG
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To say that Segev (Simon Wiesenthal) has written another history of David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973) would be an understatement. Using newly available archives as well as an incredible eye for characterization, the author presents a definitive biography of Israel’s former prime minister. While Ben-Gurion’s legacy still weighs heavily, even in modern-day Israel, Segev sets out to reanalyze that legacy with fresh interpretations. Few would question Ben-Gurion’s drive, but Segev illustrates moments of the leader’s ambivalence to native Palestinians, all the while pushing forth with a Jewish Nation State. Segev masterfully displays Ben-Gurion’s political and military strengths throughout, from his secret 1948 negotiations with the British to the 1956 Suez crisis, while also delving into personal opinions on family, friends, and rivals. Featuring many characters and nuances, this translation from Watzman will at times cause even the most devoted history buff to pause and do some brief online research before proceeding.
VERDICT Scholars and devoted readers of political history, notably of the Middle East, will turn to Segev’s majestic analysis of this pivotal leader for decades to come

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