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Vladimir Jabotinsky Preview
May 27, 2014
1 P., 5.5" x 8.25"
9780300136623

Jabotinsky: A Life

by Hillel Halkin

Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880–1940) was a man of huge paradoxes and contradictions and has been the most misunderstood of all Zionist politicians--a first-rate novelist, a celebrated Russian journalist, and the founder of the branch of Zionism now headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. This biography, the first in English in more than two decades, undertakes to answer central questions about Jabotinsky as a writer, a political thinker, and a leader. Hillel Halkin sets aside the stereotypes to which Jabotinsky has been reduced by his would-be followers and detractors alike.


Halkin explains the importance of Odessa, Jabotinsky’s native city, in molding his character and outlook; discusses his novels and short stories, showing the sometimes hidden connections between them and Jabotinsky’s political thought, and studies a political career that ended in tragic failure. Halkin also addresses Jabotinsky’s position, unique among the great figures of Zionist history, as both a territorial maximalist and a principled believer in democracy. The author inquires why Jabotinsky was often accused of fascist tendencies though he abhorred authoritarian and totalitarian politics, and investigates the many opposed aspects of his personality and conduct while asking whether or not they had an ultimate coherence. Few figures in twentieth-century Jewish life were quite so admired and loathed, and Halkin’s splendid, subtle book explores him with empathy and lucidity.


To catch a glimpse of Jabotinsky or see the whole (9 minutes) video of Jabotinsky speaking in Yiddish (with Hebrew subtitles) about problems with the British Mandate for Palestine, CLICK HERE

Feature Review: 

In his engaging and intelligent biography, Hillel Halkin...lluminates Jabotinsky's multifaceted nature..."--Douglas Feith, Wall Street Journal

"A beautifully written short biography of an exceedingly interesting man: a novelist, translator, poet, playwright, journalist, polemicist, and probably the most remarkable public speaker in modern Jewish life. Halkin’s account of him is credible and vivid."--Avishai Margalit, New York Review of Books

In his engaging and intelligent biography, Hillel Halkin, himself a brilliant Zionist man of letters—translator, novelist and essayist—illuminates Jabotinsky's multifaceted nature as a littérateur and polemicist, political thinker and activist, family man and frustrated politician."--Douglas Feith, Wall Street Journal

"An intellectually deep book which is insightful and historic – and worthwhile reading for anyone interested in Zionist history and the life of a great Jewish hero. Every Jewish library needs a copy of Jabotinsky: A Life By Hillel Halkin."--San Diego Jewish World

"A revelatory exploration of Vladimir Jabotinsky."--Jewish Chronicle

"Halkin’s exquisite translation strikingly reveals the personal side of a man so often vilified in the press for his uncompromising political stands. In a similar way, Halkin’s literary criticism offers unparalleled insights into little known aspects of Jabotinsky’s career, and his discussion of the Jabotinsky’s novel, The Five...is probably the best analysis of the novel to date."--Times of Israel

"Remarkable...Deftly traces and provides new insight into Jabotinsky's journey from Odessa childhood to Italian University dandy to renowned journalist to Zionist icon. Reading Halkin's book confirms Jabotinsky’s place as the 20th century’s most prescient Jewish political thinker."--Jewish Week Well-Versed Blog

"With his characteristic broad intellectual sweep and gifted pen, Hillel Halkin brings us not only an insightful biography of one of Zionism’s most important figures, but a grand rendering of the cultural and political landscapes in which Jabotinsky grew, wrote and toiled. Our understanding of not only Jabotinsky, but of all of Zionism, cannot but be deeply enriched by this memorable volume.”--Daniel Gordis, author of Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul

"Jabotinsky: A Life” presents the lone wolf’s contradictions, his stormy personality and personal warmth, his dreams and his failures with clarity and verve".--Adam Rovner, The Forward

"For many, [this book] will open up a man and his ideas whose influence is still felt today and who had an important role in the ideological struggles that shaped the Zionist movement and the modern Jewish state."--Chicago Jewish Star

"Halkin writes an intellectually deep book which is insightful and historic – and worthwhile reading for anyone interested in Zionist history and the life of a great Jewish hero. Every Jewish library needs a copy of Jabotinsky: A Life by Hillel Halkin."--Ronn Torossian, San Diego Jewish World

"These memories came rolling back as I recently read Hillel Halkin's remarkable new biography, “Jabotinsky: A Life,” which deftly traces and provides new insight into Jabotinsky's journey from Odessa childhood to Italian University dandy to renowned journalist to Zionist icon. Reading Halkin's book confirms Jabotinsky’s place as the 20th century’s most prescient Jewish political thinker."--Barry Lichtenberg, The Jewish Week

"[An] excellent biography...Halkin, an award-winning writer, critic, and translator, sets Jabotinsky, who was born in 1880, in the context of his time."--Jacob Heilbrunn, Washington Monthly

" In this sympa­thetic and accessible biography of Jabotinsky, Hillel Halkin, an American-Israeli writer, traces the twisting course of Jabotinsky’s life, explor­ing the contradictions and consistencies that make Jabotinsky, decades after his death, a politically and intellectually interesting figure."
--Maron L. Waxman, Jewish Book Council

Hillel Halkin

Hillel Halkin

Hillel Halkin is a writer, critic, and translator. He is the author of Across the Sabbath River and Yehuda Halevi, both of which won the National Jewish Book Award. His most recent book is Melisande! What Are Dreams? He lives in Israel.

To hear an interview with Halkin discussing his biography of Jabotinsky, CLICK HERE

To see the video of the June 2, 2014 YIVO event "Re-thinking Jabotinsky" with Hillel Halkin, Rebecca Kobrin, and Ed Rothstein, CLICK HERE

To catch a glimpse of Jabotinsky or see the whole (9 minutes) video of Jabotinsky speaking in Yiddish (with Hebrew subtitles) about problems with the British Mandate for Palestine, CLICK HERE