Yehuda Avner was advisor, speech writer and note taken for Israeli Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin. This is a fascinating account of each and provides a essential insight into Israeli politics and diplomacy. As he took the notes of many a decisive meeting, Avnev is able to use actual dialogue without being challenged on its accuracy. Thus he has Jimmy Carter speaking during the Camp David accords or Ronald Reagan actual words to Begin.
Of the Prime Ministers he served Avner has the highest regard for Begin and there can be no doubt that like him or not Begin was a remarkable man. As leader of the Irgun, the terrorist group that did much to make British military life uncomfortable in the last days of the mandate a £10000 reward was put on his head. Ostracised from mainstream Israeli politics which was dominated by the Labour Party for his hawkish views he was the last man you would have thought to deliver peace but this he did with Anwar Sadat. Not only did he attend Sadat’s funeral but as it was during the sabbath walked to it which must have been a nightmare for the security. He was a lawyer by training, a formidable orator and deep knowledge of world history. Thus when he was criticised by Reagan over the invasion of Lebanon he reminded him that in forcing the Mexican army out of Texas the American army chased then all the way into Mexico which they were happy to occupy to guarantee security.
Many political biographies are self serving and egocentric. Avner is happy to take a ringside seat without becoming a participant. There is little about him though he became the Israeli ambassador in London. This makes his account all the more attractive and readable