A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion

(Author) (Translator)
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$22.00  $20.46
Picador USA
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5.4 X 8.2 X 1.5 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Tom Segev is among Israel's leading journalists and historians. His works include The Seventh Million; 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year That Transformed the Middle East; Simon Wiesenthal; and One Palestine, Complete (chosen one of ten best books of 2000 by The New York Times).

Haim Watzman is a Jerusalem-based writer, journalist, and translator. He is the author, most recently, of Necessary Stories, a collection of short fiction. His previous books are Company C: An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel (FSG, 2005) and A Crack in the Earth: A Journey Up Israel's Rift Valley (FSG, 2007).


"Segev . . . has spent four decades exploring Ben-Gurion's impact on Israel, in a body of work that has no equal either for the brilliance of his storytelling or the ironies of his analysis. He is neither a sentimental apologist for Ben-Gurion nor a crusading dethroner in the style of the New Historians with whom he has often been grouped. He is, rather, a student of power, and is at once fascinated and horrified by what he sees." --Adam Shatz, London Review of Books

"[A] deeply researched, engrossing and, in some respects, controversial biography . . . Segev is best when probing the human side of the complex leader. Often brusque in manner, outwardly self-assured and iron-willed, Ben-Gurion poured his innermost emotions into his diaries and letters . . . Through the drama of his life, and despite his failings--both personal and political--Ben-Gurion emerges in Segev's book as a man of vision and integrity." --Francine Klagsbrun, The New York Times Book Review

"The Israeli historian Tom Segev paints a conflicting portrait of Israel's founder in his monumental A State at Any Cost . . . Unlike Ben-Gurion's previous biographers, even the best of whom found it impossible not to stray at times in to hagiography, Segev is unsparing in his depiction of the less appealing sides of his private and political personalities. He also convincingly and meticulously builds the case for Ben-Gurion as a visionary leader, efficient organiser and persuasive advocate without whose efforts Israel, as an independent and sovereign state, may never have come into being." --Anshel Pfeffer, The Times (London)

"[A] fascinating biography . . . a masterly portrait of a titanic yet unfulfilled man . . . this is a gripping study of power, and the loneliness of power." --The Economist

"Deploying exhaustive research, which included access to previously unavailable archival material, Segev unearths a man of contradictions . . . what Segev's deft unfolding of the trajectory of Ben-Gurion's life makes clear is that his legacy is Israel itself." --Diane Cole, The Washington Post

"A magisterial work, sure to take its place as a standard reference . . . those who know Segev's tours-de-force One Palestine, Complete, 1967, and The Seventh Million know that it is impossible for him to write an uninteresting sentence. There is nobody like Segev for knowing how to spin a yarn--and what a yarn this one is --and for developing a historical context for a narrative." --Jerome A. Chanes, The New York Jewish Week

"Writing without fear or favor, Tom Segev has authority . . . [A State at Any Cost] is also an oblique but illuminating history of the making of Israel." --David Pryce-Jones, The New Criterion

"[Segev] brings togeth-er an extra-or-di-nary num-ber of both auto-bi-o-graph-i-cal and bio-graph-i-cal mate-ri-als to pro-duce a beau-ti-ful por-trait of a chal-lenged and chal-leng-ing leader, whose Zion-ist dream was achieved through a dis-parate mix of a bold vision and a tire-less march through the intri-ca-cies of statecraft . . . Segev brings Ben-Gurion's char-ac-ter to life and makes his efforts on behalf of Israel and the Jew-ish peo-ple deeply per-son-al and poignant . . . A State at Any Cost is an engag-ing, enter-tain-ing, and at times a sur-pris-ing por-trait." --Jonathan Fass, Jewish Book Council

"To say that Segev has written another history of David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) would be an understatement . . . [A State at Any Cost is] a definitive biography of Israel's former prime minister . . . Scholars and devoted readers of political history, notably of the Middle East, will turn to Segev's majestic analysis of this pivotal leader for decades to come." --Library Journal

"Eminent Israeli journalist and historian [Tom Segev] chronicles the life of a driven leader who galvanized others to the exhausting, relentless pursuit of a state of Israel . . . A fair portrait of a difficult, hard-nosed character." --Kirkus

"Tom Segev's meticulously researched and most elegantly written new biography of David Ben-Gurion is a must for anybody interested in both the glorious and the dark pages of the history of Zionism and Israel, as reflected throughout the life and times of the Jewish State's most important founding father." --Saul Friedländer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Nazi Germany and the Jews and Where Memory Leads

"[A] carefully researched and nonjudgemental biography . . . Tom Segev's A State at Any Cost aptly summarizes the lodestar of Ben-Gurion's life." --Avraham Avi-hai, The Jerusalem Post

"In the course of six years of research, Segev . . . discovered a leader fraught with dramatic contrasts . . . the author has come up with significant historical revelations." --Ofer Aderet, Haaretz

"Tom Segev has completed a monumental task. The work includes the research of a true detective." --Avner Cohen, author of Israel and the Bomb