Nine Lives of Israel: A Nation’s His­to­ry Through the Lives of its Fore­most Leaders

Jack L. Schwartzwald
  • Review
By – June 10, 2013
Nine Lives of Israel is the sto­ry of Israel told through the biogra­phies of nine of its great­est lead­ers. 

The author weaves an over­ar­ch­ing his­tor­i­cal theme by arrang­ing the biogra­phies chrono­log­i­cal­ly and then recount­ing the sto­ry of each peri­od. The devel­op­ment of the mod­ern idea of Zion­ism is found, for exam­ple, in the biogra­phies of Theodor Her­zl, Chaim Weiz­mann, and David Ben Guri­on, and the cre­ation of the state is gleaned through the lives of Ben Guri­on and Abba Eban. 

Moshe Dayan and Gol­da Meir were the biogra­phies cho­sen by the author to tell the sto­ry of the tran­si­tion from the for­ma­tive years of the State of Israel, and Men­achem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon bring the sto­ry to mod­ern times. 

Big names and great lead­ers are oft en used as tools for teach­ing his­to­ry. In that way one teach­es not just what hap­pens, but also about the heroes who made it hap­pen. Schwartzwald points out that the great lead­ers, the founders of Israel, should be held in high esteem and even emu­lat­ed not only for what they did but for who they were and who they would have been in any his­tor­i­cal context. 

No one would argue with the selec­tion of these nine fig­ures, but how Schwarzwald was able to lim­it the num­ber to a mere nine is tru­ly impres­sive because the greater his­to­ry of Israel is full of lead­ers, each of whom had a part not only in build­ing a coun­try and cre­at­ing a state but in trans­form­ing the world. 

Nine Lives of Israel is a per­fect intro­duc­tion to the his­to­ry of Israel. It reads well and is per­fect­ly pitched to an audi­ence that wants to learn more about Israel, the mir­a­cle on the Mediterranean. 
Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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