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 Jewish Lives Biography / Book on Moshe Dayan; Israeli Military Leader Preview
June 26, 2012
264 P., 5.5" x 6.25"

Moshe Dayan: Israel's Controversial Hero

by Mordechai Bar-On

Raised in the first cooperative Zionist settlement in Palestine, Moshe Dayan was a powerful yet controversial personality in Israeli politics and defense during the nation's first decades; Israelis saw him as both a fearless warrior and strong-headed, charismatic politician. In his early career, Dayan was admired for his military leadership—as the IDF chief of staff during the 1956 Sinai War and as minister of defense during the 1967 Seven Day War—yet he was blamed for the catastrophic Yom Kippur War of 1973. In this interpretive biography, Mordechai Bar-On, Dayan’s assistant during the Sinai War and eminent historian of Israel, offers an intimate view of Dayan’s private life, public career, and political controversies, set against a highly perceptive and original analysis of Israel’s political environment from pre-Mandate Palestine through the 1980s. In this intimate biography, Bar-On combines his personal knowledge of Dayan and other Israeli public figures with a wealth of archival documents, interviews with Dayan’s family members and entourage, and Dayan’s own writings, to create a vivid portrait of Dayan as a commander, statesman, and citizen.

Feature Review: 

"Refreshing...Bridging the gaps of a complex personality is the great achievement of this brief but highly thoughtful book."-- Jerusalem Report

"Refreshing...Bridging the gaps of a complex personality is the great achievement of this brief but highly thoughtful book."--Jason Warshof, Jerusalem Report

"Briefly and elegantly conveys the life of a man who played an important role in Israeli history." --Historian

"This brief, incisive, elegantly written book is full of up-close and personal glimpses of and insights into the many pivotal roles Dayan played in his nation’s military and political affairs."--Martin Rubin, Washington Times

"This well-written and absorbing book offers an authoritative account of the life of Moshe Dayan and places him in the context of larger events. Doing justice to the complex and intriguing persona of Dayan, Bar-On writes for a wide audience, both general readers and students of Israel and the Middle East. I read it with great interest and profit."— Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and author of Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs, 1948–2003

"[A] revealing and engrossing account of the life of an often admirable but frustratingly enigmatic man."—Jay Freeman, Booklist

"Mordechai Bar-On, Dayan’s bureau chief during the mid-1950s as the latter was Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, brings a welcome addition to the canon of Dayan, weaving first-person observations as he amends the historical record."—Neil Rubin, Baltimore Jewish Times

Mordechai Bar-On

Mordechai Bar-On is a historian at the Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. He served as Moshe Dayan's bureau chief in the 1950s. He was elected to the Knesset in 1984. A fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Bar-On is the author of The Gates of Gaza and In Pursuit of Peace.

An interview with Moshe Dayan