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A Review of Yehuda Avner’s The Prime Ministers

The Prime Ministers isn’t a comprehensive history of Israel. It’s a collection of vignettes concerning an insider’s interactions with the country’s prime ministers up through Menachem Begin. It’s a very personal account that focuses on the personalities rather than the events.

There were some slow parts. (It’s a history, so you have to expect that.) But overall, this was a fantastic book. I loved it, especially the last half that focused on Menachem Begin. If only every world leader could have the kind of character, kindness, and realistic idealism that Begin possessed. The author’s portrayal of some of the biggest characters of the latter 20th century filled them out and made them more real to me. Carter, Reagan, and Shimon Peres dropped a couple of notches in my estimation, while Kissinger, Thatcher, and Begin all rose.

I’ve been reading a lot of biographies lately, and this book underscored a commonality I’ve seen among the great men and women of history. They’re just regular people with all the same flaws and motivations as the rest of us. There are a few things that set them apart: personal discipline, a clear vision, and the drive to make that vision real. If you can put those three things together, you can make things happen.

The Prime Ministers by Yehuda Avner