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From the former editor in chief of Haaretz, the first in-depth, comprehensive biography of Ariel Sharon, the most dramatic and imposing Israeli political and military leader of the last forty years.
The life of Ariel Sharon spans much of modern Israel’s history. A commander in the Israeli Army from its inception in 1948, Sharon participated in the 1948 War of Independence, played decisive roles in the 1956 Suez War and the Six-Day War of 1967, and is credited here with the shift in the outcome of the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
After leaving the professional army, Sharon became a political leader and served in numerous governments, most prominently as the defense minister during the 1982 Lebanon War in which he bore “personal responsibility,” according to the state’s commission of inquiry, for massacres of Palestinian civilians by Lebanese militia. As a general and as a politician, he championed the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. But as prime minister, he performed a dramatic reversal: orchestrating Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
Landau brilliantly chronicles Sharon’s surprising about-face, combining the immediacy of firsthand reportage with the analysis and independent insight of a historian’s perspective. Sharon suffered a stroke in January 2006 and remains in a persistent vegetative state. This biography recounts the life of the man who is considered by many to be Israel’s greatest military leader and political statesman, illustrating how Sharon’s leadership transformed Israel, and how his views were shaped by the changing nature of Israeli society.
“Comprehensive and readable. . . . [Arik] chronicles Sharon’s epic military and political battles, serving as a kind of national history.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[An] expertly written biography . . . that unpicks many of the controversies around Sharon’s record, and promises to become the definitive account of his career. . . . This is no panegyric. . . . [Landau] is an elegant writer and a superb journalist, making this book an engrossing read.” —Financial Times
“Landau captures the combativeness and contradictions of one of the major figures in Israel’s history. Sharon played a role in nearly every stage of the nation’s development since its independence.” —The Washington Post
“Landau does an excellent job in presenting a fair portrait of a man who strove to do what he thought was best for his people, to the alternating consternation of both the Left and the Right.” —The Daily Beast
“A big biography worthy of its subject, an outsized figure in the history of Israel. Sharon led a long, controversial public life. . . . Landau’s book covers all of it and then some.” —The Oregonian
“Landau is an elegant writer. . . . The heart of this exceptional biography is the transformation of Sharon from a loose cannon—as menacing to his allies as to his enemies—into a respected statesman, the hope of a nation.” —Haaretz
“Nuanced, insightful. . . . It will be regarded, in the years to come, as the definitive work on the eleventh prime minister’s life.” —The Times of Israel
“Important and extremely readable. . . . Those wanting to draw their own conclusions [about Sharon] will find a great deal to work with in David Landau’s Arik. . . . Sharon’s radical change from virulent hawk to moderate peace seeker is one of the more interesting political changes in recent times. Landau skillfully and engagingly chronicles the how and why of that change and other fascinating details of a life well lived.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“[Landau] is perfectly placed to write the biography of one of Israel’s seminal, and at times most controversial, leaders. . . . What the reader comes away from Arik with is that Sharon was not easily pigeonholed into one political camp. . . . [He] took the ideas of others and made them into reality.” —The Jerusalem Post
“[Landau] has done a superb job here in attempting to chisel away the myths that surround Sharon and to isolate his essence without theatrics or ideological fanfare. . . . A complex and compelling portrait of Sharon that forces the reader to reevaluate his or her preconceived notions.” —Jewish Journal
“Landau’s background as a journalist gives the biography a raw immediacy. . . . [Arik] paints a comprehensive picture of Ariel Sharon, a man easy to hate, but harder to understand. Mr. Landau does what good biographers should do, explain the life of his subject, but questioning his subject’s motivations every step of the way.” —New York Journal of Books
Compelling. . . . Landau’s is the most objective and nuanced book assessing the life [of Ariel Sharon].” —The Jewish Week
“With great research and noticeable interest, Landau depicts Ariel Sharon as a man who is more complex than any one of his multitude of titles and the subsequent criticism he endured as a public servant.” —Publishers Weekly
“Splendid reporting, comprehensive research and probing analysis inform this unblinking view of a complicated man and a sanguinary geography. . . . A thorough, extremely candid description and assessment.” —Kirkus (starred)
“[A] colorful, insightful, and deftly written biography. . . . Landau brings considerable analytic gifts to bear in explaining the contradictions and vicissitudes of the complex man who evolved from brilliantly unorthodox but unruly solider, radiating controversy, recalcitrance and naked aggression, to become Israel’s sober and grandfatherly 11th prime minister.” —The Jerusalem Report