The Life of Ariel Sharon
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About the author
DAVID LANDAU immigrated to Israel from the United Kingdom as a young man. His career in journalism began in 1972 at The Jerusalem Post, and he joined Haaretz in 1993 as news editor. He was the founder and editor in chief of the Haaretz's English edition from 1997 to 2004, and is currently the Israel correspondent for The Economist. Landau collaborated with Israel's president, Shimon Peres, on his memoir, Battling for Peace (Random House, 1995). He published, with President Peres, Ben-Gurion, A Political Biography (Nextbook/Schocken, 2012). He is the author of Piety and Power (1993), an account of the increasingly significant role the ultra-orthodox ("haredi") play in Israel, the United States, and Europe. Landau graduated in law from University College, London and studied in leading yeshivas in Israel. Landau is married with children and grandchildren and currently lives in Jerusalem.
From the former editor in chief of Haaretz, the first in-depth comprehensive biography of Ariel Sharon, the most important 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, and played decisive roles in the 1956 Suez War and the six day War of 1967, and most dramatically is largely credited with the shift in the outcome of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. After returning from the army in 1982, Sharon became a political leader and served in numerous governments, most prominently as the defense minister during the 1983 Lebanon War in which he bore "personal responsibility" according to the Kahan Commission for massacres of Palestinian civilians by Lebanese militia, and he championed the construction of Israeli settlements in the 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 and analyzes his surprising about-face. Sharon suffered a stroke in January 2006 and remains in a persistent vegetative state. Considered by many to be Israel's greatest military leader and political statesman, this biography recounts his life and shows how this leadership transformed Israel, and how Sharon's views were shaped by the changing nature of Israeli society.
In the press
“A thorough, extremely candid description and assessment of the military and political lives of the controversial Sharon, who has been in a vegetative state since a massive stroke in 2006. The author...displays a deep familiarity with the details and contexts of Sharon’s career....[and] is also adept in the descriptions of the labyrinthine political world of Israel during Sharon’s era. Splendid reporting, comprehensive research and probing analysis inform this unblinking view of a complicated man and a sanguinary geography.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“[Landau’s] thorough, balanced, and scrupulously fair biography makes clear why Sharon was capable of winning respect and admiration, even from his staunch political opponents….This is an outstanding, warts-and-all portrait of an arguably great, if not a particularly likable, Israeli leader.” —Jay Freeman, Booklist (starred review)
“Sharon lived a life saturated with controversy. Mr. Landau's biography 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.” —Karl Wolff, New York Journal of Books
“‘Arik’ is a big biography worthy of its subject, an outsized figure in the history of Israel. Sharon led a long, controversial public life that began before Israel became a state and didn't end until he suffered a stroke in 2006. He had an extensive military career before going into politics and becoming defense minister and later prime minister. Every step was marked by controversy, and Landau's book covers all of it and then some.” —Jeff Baker, Portland Oregonian
“As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in his moving eulogy, Ariel Sharon’s life mirrored the trajectory of Israel’s. David Landau’s colorful, insightful, and deftly written biography does justice to the historic sweep….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, and who, in so doing, morphed from the bête noire of Landau’s own center-left milieu to the standard bearer they believed would have the strength to bear peace….In Landau’s view, the two-state battle is not yet over, and Sharon could yet emerge the winner.” —Leslie Susser, The Jerusalem Report
“Compiling the life of a man who was a commander, officer, and major general in the Israeli Army in addition to a statesman, party leader, and prime minister in the Israeli government is an intimidating undertaking, particularly when that man, now at age 85, is struggling to stay alive while in the comatose state he’s been in since 2006. However, journalist Landau, who previously collaborated with Israeli president Shimon Peres on his memoir, succeeds dutifully in bringing this multifaceted life to the page. 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
“Compelling....Others have written about Sharon, including journalist Uri Dan, a confidante of Sharon ("Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait," 2006); his son Gilad ("Sharon: The Life of a Leader," 2011); and Sharon himself penned a memoir ("Warrior," 1989). But Landau's is the most objective and nuanced book assessing the life." —Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week
“Having interviewed a wide range of people who knew Sharon and offer their opinions of his actions, military and political, Landau presents a veritable Who’s Who of Israel over the last several decades. He succeeds in giving the reader a truly human portrait of one of Israel’s greatest and most controversial leaders….Very much of interest to anyone concerned with the past, present, and future of modern Israel.” —Joel Neuberg, Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.