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

MacFarland  2012

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.

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