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This book offers a reappraisal of David Ben-Gurion’s role in Jewish-Israeli history from the perspective of the twenty-first century, in the larger context of the Zionist “renaissance,” of which he was a major and unique exponent. Some have described Ben-Gurion’s Zionism as a dream that has gone sour, or a utopia doomed to be unfulfilled. Now – after the dust surrounding Israel’s founding father has settled, archives have been opened, and perspective has been gained since Ben-Gurion’s downfall – this book presents a fresh look at this statesman-intellectual and his success and tragic failures during a unique period of time that he and his peers described as the “Jewish renaissance.” The resulting reappraisal offers a new analysis of Ben-Gurion’s actual role as a major player in Israeli, Middle Eastern, and global politics.Read more
- Sets Ben-Gurion and his peers within the historical-cultural context of their time and age - the 'Jewish Renaissance'
- Fascinating discussion of intellectual history missing in the previous publications on Israel's history and birth, including in-depth discussion of the Holocaust and its impact on Ben-Gurion and Israeli society
- The story of the birth of the Israeli Army based on heretofore unpublished sources, the road to the 1956 Suez-Sinai Campaign, and the acquisition by Israel of its nuclear infrastructure
Reviews & endorsements
“Understanding Ben-Gurion, Israel’s preeminent founding father, is essential to exploring the emergence and shaping of Israel itself. Ben-Gurion’s centrality has made him a lighting-rod for the celebration and criticism of the Zionist experience. In a unique and extraordinarily productive approach, Aronson plumbs the relationship between Ben-Gurion’s pragmatic political leadership and his deep and sometimes eccentric intellectual commitments. In leading us through a reconsideration of major issues and events that engaged Ben-Gurion and shaped Israeli history and its polity, Aronson puts forth an illuminating and brilliant portrait that challenges the recent litany of attacks that have become standard fare in the strident negativism of Israel. This rehabilitation of Ben-Gurion is thereby a sophisticated and compelling refutation of Israel's detractors.”
—Ilan Troen, Brandeis UniversitySee more reviews
“A compelling tour de force, Aronson’s thought-provoking reassessment of Israel’s founding father David Ben Gurion is a huge contribution to a needed reconsideration of Ben Gurion’s statesmanlike role in Israeli and Jewish history. While “the old man” is pilloried in recent post-Zionist scholarship as a Jewish tyrant and ruthless politico, his actions interpreted as the seed of many contemporary Israeli evils – the lack of a written American-type constitution, the extraordinary place of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Aronson offers a more persuasive and better informed view. He places Ben Gurion’s pragmatic left-Zionist leadership in the larger historical contexts of the crisis of modern Jewish society, the ‘trap’ of global politics culminating in the Nazi Holocaust, and the critical post-war juncture during which statehood was achieved and built despite multiple challenges.”
—Kenneth Waltzer, Michigan State University
“We have here a thoughtful and detailed analysis of the origins, development, and application in practice of the concepts that guided a key figure in the creation and history of Israel. On the basis of vast archival research, command of the literature, and personal interviews and experiences, Aronson brings the towering figure of Ben-Gurion to life as a statesman of ideas in a challenging world.”
—Gerhard L. Weinberg, Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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- Date Published: July 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107425200
- length: 478 pages
- dimensions: 234 x 156 x 27 mm
- weight: 0.73kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The intellectual origins of Ben-Gurion's Zionism
2. The Holocaust and its lessons
3. Ben-Gurion between left and right
4. Ben-Gurion and the Israel Defense Forces - from its formation to the Suez-Sinai campaign of 1956
5. From the 1956 war to the 'Lavon Affair'
6. From 'the Affair' to the Six-Day War
Conclusion: the waning of an age and its leader.
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