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Ben-Gurion: A Biography

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"המתנה הגדולה של ההיסטוריה לעם היהודי" – כך כינה אחד ממנהיגי היישוב בארץ את דוד בן-גוריון, האיש שבכוח נחישותו, אומץ לבו והחזון שפיעם בו הביא להקמתה של מדינת ישראל בשנת תש"ח. בן-גוריון הנהיג את המדינה הצעירה במלחמת העצמאות מול צבאות ערב וכיהן כראש הממשלה במשך כחמש-עשרה שנה. הוא ניצח על גל העלייה הגדול בשנות החמישים והוביל מפעלים לאומיים דוגמת קיבוץ גלויות, הנחלת הלשון, עידו "המתנה הגדולה של ההיסטוריה לעם היהודי" – כך כינה אחד ממנהיגי היישוב בארץ את דוד בן-גוריון, האיש שבכוח נחישותו, אומץ לבו והחזון שפיעם בו הביא להקמתה של מדינת ישראל בשנת תש"ח. בן-גוריון הנהיג את המדינה הצעירה במלחמת העצמאות מול צבאות ערב וכיהן כראש הממשלה במשך כחמש-עשרה שנה. הוא ניצח על גל העלייה הגדול בשנות החמישים והוביל מפעלים לאומיים דוגמת קיבוץ גלויות, הנחלת הלשון, עידוד ההתיישבות הכפרית בפריפריה וכיבוש השממה. אחד מחלומותיו הגדולים היה להפריח את הנגב, וכשהסבירו לו יועציו ש"המומחים קובעים שזה בלתי-אפשרי", הורה להם לפטר את המומחים והוסיף, "מומחים הם מומחים למה שהיה – לא למה שיהיה." באמירה זו גלומה מורשתו של המדינאי הגדול: אין דבר העומד בפני הרצון והאמונה. הוצאת ידיעות ספרים שמחה להגיש לקוראים מהדורה מיוחדת ומעודכנת של הביוגרפיה המלאה היחידה של דוד בן-גוריון בשפה העברית. בן-גוריון פתח לפני מיכאל בר-זהר את ארכיונו האישי, את יומניו ואת מכתביו, והשיב על כל שאלותיו. הספר זכה להצלחה רבה בארץ ובעולם ותורגם למגוון שפות, בהן ערבית וסינית. פרופ´ מיכאל בר-זהר, היסטוריון, סופר וחבר כנסת לשעבר, זכה להיות הביוגרף הרשמי של דוד בן-גוריון. פרופ´ בר-זהר חיבר ספרים רבים על תולדות עם ישראל ועל שירותי הביטחון, ואף פרסם ספרי מתח וריגול. בר-זהר הוא חתן פרס סוקולוב לעיתונות (1965), פרס בן-גוריון (2005) ופרס ראש הממשלה לסופרים עבריים (2012). "סוף-סוף תמונה מלאה של בן-גוריון... בזכות כישרונו של ד"ר בר-זהר כהיסטוריון וכביוגרף הופך הקורא לאוהד מושבע של ´הזקן´." - The Observer, London "בכל דף נקרע מיכאל בר-זהר בין הרצון להראות את בן-גוריון כאדם עם בעיות ומגבלות ושגיאות וחטאים, לבין האמת של איש מיוחד במינו, איש שעושה את חיינו למיוחדים במינם... אני מאוד ממליץ לקרוא את הספר הזה... זהו ספר מרתק על איש, אבל גם צוואה אישית לדור שלנו." - נשיא המדינה, מר שמעון פרס


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"המתנה הגדולה של ההיסטוריה לעם היהודי" – כך כינה אחד ממנהיגי היישוב בארץ את דוד בן-גוריון, האיש שבכוח נחישותו, אומץ לבו והחזון שפיעם בו הביא להקמתה של מדינת ישראל בשנת תש"ח. בן-גוריון הנהיג את המדינה הצעירה במלחמת העצמאות מול צבאות ערב וכיהן כראש הממשלה במשך כחמש-עשרה שנה. הוא ניצח על גל העלייה הגדול בשנות החמישים והוביל מפעלים לאומיים דוגמת קיבוץ גלויות, הנחלת הלשון, עידו "המתנה הגדולה של ההיסטוריה לעם היהודי" – כך כינה אחד ממנהיגי היישוב בארץ את דוד בן-גוריון, האיש שבכוח נחישותו, אומץ לבו והחזון שפיעם בו הביא להקמתה של מדינת ישראל בשנת תש"ח. בן-גוריון הנהיג את המדינה הצעירה במלחמת העצמאות מול צבאות ערב וכיהן כראש הממשלה במשך כחמש-עשרה שנה. הוא ניצח על גל העלייה הגדול בשנות החמישים והוביל מפעלים לאומיים דוגמת קיבוץ גלויות, הנחלת הלשון, עידוד ההתיישבות הכפרית בפריפריה וכיבוש השממה. אחד מחלומותיו הגדולים היה להפריח את הנגב, וכשהסבירו לו יועציו ש"המומחים קובעים שזה בלתי-אפשרי", הורה להם לפטר את המומחים והוסיף, "מומחים הם מומחים למה שהיה – לא למה שיהיה." באמירה זו גלומה מורשתו של המדינאי הגדול: אין דבר העומד בפני הרצון והאמונה. הוצאת ידיעות ספרים שמחה להגיש לקוראים מהדורה מיוחדת ומעודכנת של הביוגרפיה המלאה היחידה של דוד בן-גוריון בשפה העברית. בן-גוריון פתח לפני מיכאל בר-זהר את ארכיונו האישי, את יומניו ואת מכתביו, והשיב על כל שאלותיו. הספר זכה להצלחה רבה בארץ ובעולם ותורגם למגוון שפות, בהן ערבית וסינית. פרופ´ מיכאל בר-זהר, היסטוריון, סופר וחבר כנסת לשעבר, זכה להיות הביוגרף הרשמי של דוד בן-גוריון. פרופ´ בר-זהר חיבר ספרים רבים על תולדות עם ישראל ועל שירותי הביטחון, ואף פרסם ספרי מתח וריגול. בר-זהר הוא חתן פרס סוקולוב לעיתונות (1965), פרס בן-גוריון (2005) ופרס ראש הממשלה לסופרים עבריים (2012). "סוף-סוף תמונה מלאה של בן-גוריון... בזכות כישרונו של ד"ר בר-זהר כהיסטוריון וכביוגרף הופך הקורא לאוהד מושבע של ´הזקן´." - The Observer, London "בכל דף נקרע מיכאל בר-זהר בין הרצון להראות את בן-גוריון כאדם עם בעיות ומגבלות ושגיאות וחטאים, לבין האמת של איש מיוחד במינו, איש שעושה את חיינו למיוחדים במינם... אני מאוד ממליץ לקרוא את הספר הזה... זהו ספר מרתק על איש, אבל גם צוואה אישית לדור שלנו." - נשיא המדינה, מר שמעון פרס

30 review for Ben-Gurion: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Probably the best English-language biography of Israel's first Prime Minister, Michael Bar-Zohar was Ben Gurion's official biographer and, as such, had access to all of BG's personal papers, letters, and his vast diary. We really get to know both the leader and politician and the inner man. David Ben Gurion was one of the greatest national leaders of the 20th century (ranked right up there with Ataturk, De Valera, Ho Chi Minh and Churchill); who led his people's struggle for independence in the Probably the best English-language biography of Israel's first Prime Minister, Michael Bar-Zohar was Ben Gurion's official biographer and, as such, had access to all of BG's personal papers, letters, and his vast diary. We really get to know both the leader and politician and the inner man. David Ben Gurion was one of the greatest national leaders of the 20th century (ranked right up there with Ataturk, De Valera, Ho Chi Minh and Churchill); who led his people's struggle for independence in the shadow of the Jewish People's greatest catastrophe, and then established and commanded the nascent Israeli state and its War of Independence. If this weren't enough, he then ran the country during its stressful early era of economic austerity and the doubling of its population as many thousands of Jews returned to their ancestral homeland. Stressful is also the description of the contact sport-like atmosphere of Israeli politics, and BG was certainly in the thick of it as he had to deal with obstreperous coalition partners, outraged opposition politicians and less-than-loyal fellow members of his own party. In the midst of it all, he left politics to set a personal example of making his home in a remote Negev desert kibbutz. He was part of a generation of giants that has passed from the scene, but Ben Gurion's work is still with us, and his life story is one worth knowing, if not emulating. A first-class biography.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Relstuart

    While I've read books that mentioned Ben-Gurion this is the first book centered on his life I've read. Interested in that he was born in Russia in a mainly Jewish village and his father talked about how wonderful it would be if the Jews had their homeland back and could live in their own land. He adopted this dream and moved to the Palestine before the Russian revolution and lived in poverty farming and going to school. He was an inveterate reader. But more, he dedicated his life to the vision o While I've read books that mentioned Ben-Gurion this is the first book centered on his life I've read. Interested in that he was born in Russia in a mainly Jewish village and his father talked about how wonderful it would be if the Jews had their homeland back and could live in their own land. He adopted this dream and moved to the Palestine before the Russian revolution and lived in poverty farming and going to school. He was an inveterate reader. But more, he dedicated his life to the vision of creating a Jewish nation. He worked towards that in political parties. He was shy and quiet until he had to speak. Then he was a forceful speaker passionate speaker who became a skilled orator with practice. It took the sacrifice of many people to bring Israel into the world as a nation. But, it is possible without Ben-Gurion it would not have happened. He took the lead when others did not have a vision and made people consider daring options that lead to the creation of the nation. He was the main author of their declaration of independence. To understand the story of the nation of Israel coming back into being one must understand the story of Ben-Gurion. Many people in the world may now think of the USA as close friends with Israel. And, there is no doubt Israel has many friends in the USA and always has, but the US government has not always been friends or helpful to Israel, especially in the early years after Truman left office. Two things of note/quotes stood out to me while reading I highlighted in my copy of this: The first was Ben-Gurion's attitude towards affairs by married men in positions of authority/influence. Ben-Guion believed that that the love affairs of a public figure were no sin, no do they harm a man's public image (in the figures ability to serve the public). In response to a letter from an irate husband accusing one of Ben-Gurion's top generals of seducing his wife he wrote, "I hope that you will not be angry with me, if I make a distinction between the intimate, personal aspect, and the public side... Not only in our times, but in the previous generations and even in ancient times. A distinction was made - and such a distinction must be made - between the two planes... A man can be an ascete and a saint all his life and be unfitted for public tasks; and the opposite is also possible." Ben-Gurion cited King David and Admiral Nelson as two examples and went on to say that the secret intimate life of a person does not determine their standing in society and that great men and women's private and public lives make run on parallel planes but never meet. This idea is interesting as it flies in the face of the now more popular notion that tends to think that someone who is not faithful in their personal life cannot be trusted in their public life. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between thinking of these two possibilities as absolutes in every case and situation. The second stand out portion was discussion of FDR and his relations with the Arabs. Ben-Gurion believed that had FDR remained president thru the end of WWII and when the question of whether Israel could create their own nation that he would have opposed the formation of the Jewish nation based on his promise to Ibn Saud that the US would not undertake any action hostile to the Arab people when Saud visited the US and spoke to FDR about the situation with the Jewish question.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Bogorad

    Every Israeli citizen should read this book, which provides a look into the life of the founding father of Israel and puts it in the historical context of the Zionism before the independence and the events that led to the eventual founding of Israel, and it's first years of existence. This book paints a picture of a brave, decisive and wise statesman who is completely devoted to his people, but it also does more than that, in my opinion. The book presents the currents that shaped the Israeli soci Every Israeli citizen should read this book, which provides a look into the life of the founding father of Israel and puts it in the historical context of the Zionism before the independence and the events that led to the eventual founding of Israel, and it's first years of existence. This book paints a picture of a brave, decisive and wise statesman who is completely devoted to his people, but it also does more than that, in my opinion. The book presents the currents that shaped the Israeli society from before the independence and during Israel's first years - namely, the different movements and parties that make up the mix that is the Jewish people in Israel - be it European refugees, tough local Sabras, Immigrants, Religious and Secular people, Socialists, Conservatives, Revisionists, and so on. Each with their own outlook, leaders and influence. I was surprised to see how much of the political challenges and points of tension that are relevant today and that shape our society, actually had their origins in Israel's first years, and that in some aspects, little has changed. A great read overall, which I really enjoyed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy Goldman

    I thought all along it could have been better edited. I’m not Israeli and I’m not a particularly detailed oriented person and this book was VERY detail oriented, which made it a difficult read given I didn’t know the story of many of the people who play a large part in Ben-Gurion’s political life. I learned a lot and Bar-Zohar gives a very real picture of Ben-Gurion, the good and the bad. It certainly did not seem a blessing to be a member of his family. I thought it was a fair representation of I thought all along it could have been better edited. I’m not Israeli and I’m not a particularly detailed oriented person and this book was VERY detail oriented, which made it a difficult read given I didn’t know the story of many of the people who play a large part in Ben-Gurion’s political life. I learned a lot and Bar-Zohar gives a very real picture of Ben-Gurion, the good and the bad. It certainly did not seem a blessing to be a member of his family. I thought it was a fair representation of Israel’s beginning and the wars fought, to which I learned a lot as I thought it was always Israel protecting herself and not initiating unnecessary attacks to which I was wrong. A true sense of his relationship with many international people, the shocking lack of support of the US in establishing the state of Israel and the close relationship Israel had with France. Ben-Gurion was truly a pioneer, a genius, an intellect, capable of learning beyond my wildest dreams. Glad he was not my father!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yossi Khebzou

    Bar-Zohar paints a very complete image of Ben-Gurion in this classic about “the Old Man.” The author depicts The First Prime Minister of Israel objectively, with his flaws and virtues, good and bad decisions. It also follows a fine train of thought, and one can get an insight of Ben-Gurion’s thought processes. Its depiction of the building of Israel alliances with the West is particularly interesting. The only “negative” I found it’s that it’s very detail and military-oriented. However, that doe Bar-Zohar paints a very complete image of Ben-Gurion in this classic about “the Old Man.” The author depicts The First Prime Minister of Israel objectively, with his flaws and virtues, good and bad decisions. It also follows a fine train of thought, and one can get an insight of Ben-Gurion’s thought processes. Its depiction of the building of Israel alliances with the West is particularly interesting. The only “negative” I found it’s that it’s very detail and military-oriented. However, that doesn’t stop it from being captivating. If you want to get a good and complete introduction to David Ben-Gurion’s character, this is a must read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Manikandan VR

    The right man at the right time at the right place Very rarely in history has the above combination happened. Very few would have the guts and foresight to take apparently unpopular but decisions for the greatness and security of the nation and its people. I came across a saying that Israel is an article of faith so it is bound to survive and achieve greatness. We can modify it to Israel is an article of Faith and Ben Gurion. For the story of Ben Gurion is the story of the modern state of Israel.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trọng Tùng

    Great book i ever read in my life

  8. 5 out of 5

    daniel dirnfeld

    Good book Is pretty interesting everything Israel has to go through to where is today.Even though I prefer begin politics Ben Gurion commuted a crime with the Yemenite Jews

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edwin Ortiz

    Excellent very readable biography.. The author delves into the first prime minister David Ben-gurion and his life . a tale told briskly with many interesting facts .

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Very interesting. Bar-Zohar is obviously a huge admirer of Ben-Gurion. While the vast majority of the book is almost fawning in its devotion to B-G, the epilogue is shockingly critical. I'm not sure of the significance, but the shift from devotion into criticism felt a little jarring. Very interesting. Bar-Zohar is obviously a huge admirer of Ben-Gurion. While the vast majority of the book is almost fawning in its devotion to B-G, the epilogue is shockingly critical. I'm not sure of the significance, but the shift from devotion into criticism felt a little jarring.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daled

    Interesting in background of Ben-Gurion--tied to birth of Israel, and parallels between then and now.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    Outstanding. Well written, and from a fascinating perspective. The only shortcoming, IMHO, is that there was very little information on his personal & family life. But, a very worthwhile read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mauro V. Mendlowicz

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

  15. 5 out of 5

    Бахром Магзумов

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zil Brill

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rani Cohen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leo Backus

  19. 4 out of 5

    cheryl abramson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason Helfstein

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan wasserberg

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kumar

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tâm Hoàng

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ann Nachbar

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Melton

  26. 5 out of 5

    Giang Pham

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandra B Reinhold

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lsimon0629

  29. 5 out of 5

    Boris Brodsky

  30. 5 out of 5

    HARVEY G. BIERMAN

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