A State at Any Cost by Tom Segev [ 7/10]

I’m no expert on the history of Israel or the life story of its founder (self-declared and, in truth, actual) founder, David Ben-Gurion, but I found “A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion” to be comprehensive, sophisticated, and in line with the facts I knew. Using scads of archival material presumably never before available, Tom Segev, a leading, and at times controversial, historian/journalist, takes the enigma of Ben-Gurion and adds plenty of flesh to it. Ben-Gurion could be wild and woolly, almost insane, or he could be the most conscientious diplomat. His personality veered all over the spectrum. I was fascinated to discover that core elements endured through his life: his passion for politics and its power bases; the concept of a Jewish state, come what may, whatever was required; a love of reading; tempestuous relationships; and a deep hankering for his place in the panoply of history. Segev retains superb control over his material, and writes vigorously and methodically. Although this is the only bio of the icon I have fully read, any competitor for historical authority must surely be quite remarkable. I commend “A State at Any Cost” to both the keen modern history buff and the explorer of Israel’s genesis.

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