Moshe Dayan Israel's Controversial Hero Mordechai Bar-On

Jewish Lives
Publication date:
17 Jul 2012
Yale University Press
264 pages: 210 x 140 x 24mm
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Instantly recognizable with his iconic eye patch, Moshe Dayan (1915-1981) was a powerful yet controversial figure in Israel from the 1950s through 70s. A fearless warrior and a strong-headed, charismatic politician, he was admired for his leadership as Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces during the victorious 1956 Sinai War and the Six Day War of 1967, but blamed for the debacle of the October War, 1973, while he was Minister of Defence.

This arresting biography provides an intimate view of Dayan's private life, his public career, and the political controversies of his time. Mordechai Bar-On, Dayan's assistant during the Sinai War and an eminent historian of Israel, offers the most authoritative account yet of Dayan's life, motives, and world view. Drawing on a wealth of Israeli archives, writings by Dayan and members of his circle, and on first-hand experiences working with Dayan, "Bar-On" focuses the main part of the book on his subject's role in Israel's public life and his highly original view of the political environment in which he was operating.

The book reveals Dayan as a man unwavering in his devotion to the Zionist project and the land of Israel, and it makes a unique contribution to the history of Israel's early years and the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict in those times.

Mordechai Bar-On is senior research fellow, Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem. He served in the Israel Defense Forces as General Moshe Dayan's bureau chief during the Sinai Campaign, and in 1984 was elected to the Knesset, Israel's parliament. He lives in Jerusalem.

"[A] revealing and engrossing account of the life of an often admirable but frustratingly enigmatic man."--Jay Freeman, "Booklist"--Jay Freeman, Booklist