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Menachem Begin

by Avi Shilon Danielle Zilberberg Yoram Sharett

Menachem Begin, father of Israel's right wing and sixth prime minister of the nation, was known for his unflinchingly hawkish ideology. And yet, in 1979 he signed a groundbreaking peace treaty with Egypt for which he and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Such a contradiction was typical in Begin's life: no other Israeli played as many different, sometimes conflicting, roles as Begin, and no other figure inspired such sharply opposing responses. Begin was belittled and beloved, revered and despised, and his career was punctuated by exhilarating highs on the one hand, despair and ostracism on the other. This riveting biography is the first to provide a satisfactory answer to the question, Who was Begin? Based on wide-ranging research among archival documents and on testimonials and interviews with Begin's closest advisers, the book presents a detailed new portrait of the founding leader. Among the many topics the book holds up to new light are Begin's antagonistic relationship with David Ben-Gurion, his controversial role in the 1982 Lebanon War, his unique leadership style, the changes in his ideology over the years, and the mystery behind the total silence he maintained at the end of his career. Through Begin's remarkable life, the book also recounts the history of the right-wing segment of Israeli society, a story essential to understanding the Israel of today.

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