Michel Bar-Zohar

Shimon Peres The Secret History of Israel Publication date : March 6, 2008

Michael Bar-Zohar, an Israeli politician and historian, is the author of about thirty books. He was formerly a professor at Haifa University and at Emory University, in Atlanta.

Twice Israel’s prime minister and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Shimon Peres is one of the great statesmen of recent decades. He is also a complex, fascinating man — a brilliant intellectual who is entirely at home in the corridors of power, a man of convictions who is not averse to compromise, an individual revered by the world and yet highly controversial in his own country, at once a hero and a figure of tragedy.

Drawing on a long association with Peres, as well as on the full cooperation of the leader’s family, friends, supporters and political rivals, Michael Bar-Zohar has crafted a vibrant, richly textured portrait of a man whose life and career span the entire history of Israel.

Peres was born in Poland in 1923 and immigrated to Palestine at the age of twelve. After joining a kibbutz, and while still a teenager, he became the leader of a major youth movement. When the struggle for Israeli independence broke out, the future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion asked him to join his inner circle. As director general of the Defense Ministry under Ben-Gurion, Peres was a major player in turning Israel into a military power, and it was Peres who forged a secret alliance with France that enabled Israel to obtain nuclear weapons.

When he became prime minister in 1984, Peres brought new hope. Finally, in 1993, Peres and his longtime rival Yitzhak Rabin together signed the Oslo Accords, which won them and Yasser Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a half-century of leadership, Peres has worked beside Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, through wars and crises.

“The story of Peres is that of Israel,” wrote Haaretz about this book.

The author recounts here the major events in the history of Israel, from the 1950s to the recent period, through the actions of one of Israel’s greatest political figures and one of the last surviving members of the nation’s founding generation.
This book casts a new light on Franco-Israeli relations, particularly on such matters as the Suez crisis and Israel’s acquisition of the atom bomb. In addition, it explains the “Peres enigma”. Should Peres be regarded as a visionary — or simply as a skilled tactician? A historian, who was also Peres’ close collaborator, tries to answer these questions.