Personal witness: Israel through my eyes

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Putnam, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 671 pages
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Personal Witness, as its title indicates, is the passionate account of Israel's first five decades, written by one of its founding fathers, and it is both an objective and a subjective assessment of those history-making years. It is also the subject of a five-part PBS series to be broadcast in the United States and many other countries. Personal Witness is a political and social history of the highest level, presented without fear or favor - a glaringly candid testament written at a time when Eban is not restrained by the formalities of office or diplomatic niceties. Here you may meet Abba Eban, the man behind the statesman, writer, orator and historian - the man who said, "Men and nations sometimes behave wisely, once they have exhausted all the other alternatives". In the style that has won him renown, Eban traces Israel through all the fluctuations of its fortunes to which he was a witness and a participant: from its embattled beginnings and first struggle for international recognition, when "Israel held the joy of birth and the fear of death in a single taste"; through the successive wars and diplomatic crises, in which he was frequently a central spokesman and policymaker; to the dreams and often bitter conflicts of today. Along the way come splendid sidelights - reactions not only to events but to people, the men and women who strove to create Israel, and the international leaders who helped or hindered them. In intimate, often surprising vignettes, Eban depicts the world leaders he has encountered over more than four decades, offering frank comments on every American president from Truman ("If there was such a thing as an 'imperial presidency, ' no one seemed to have broken thenews to Harry S. Truman") to Bush; on leaders from Churchill, de Gaulle and Kohl to Sadat and King Hussein; and on the Jewish and Israeli gallery, from Ben-Gurion and Meir to Begin, Rabin and Shamir. In 1984, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, Eban's enormously successful account of the history of the Jewish people up to 1948, appeared as a nine-part television series on public television and a colorful and evocative companion book of the same name. Now, in a shifting of gears, comes Personal Witness, and Eban on Israel is an extraordinary pairing of writer and subject - pointed, knowledgeable, alive with drama and humor, and above all, intensely personal. Throughout, Eban's eye is clear, his perspective humane, his voice rich and dramatic, and his vision sweeping. Indispensable as history, irresistible as memoir, it is a book for anyone who cares about the destiny of Israel and the Middle East.

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PERSONAL WITNESS: Israel Through My Eyes

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Further adventures, memories, and opinions of Israel's long- flying, silver-tongued dove. After his Abba Eban: An Autobiography (1977) and five other works of historical interest, there are few ... Read full review

Personal witness: Israel through my eyes

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Eban, who has been at the center of Israeli history and world events for nearly half a century, is a keen observer of Zionist and international affairs. His latest book traces the confluence of ... Read full review


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About the author (1992)

Abba Eban in addition to his diplomatic and political roles in the Israeli government, Abba Eban was narrator of the nine-hour television series Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, which he turned into a best-selling book. His latest television film, The Brink of Peace, is a survey of the Middle Eastern peace process. He is also the author of numerous other books, including My People, The New Diplomacy, and Personal Witness: Israel through My Eyes.

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