Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel (Hardcover)
Well-researched, well-presented, and easily read, Lioness places Golda Meir at the center of the causes to which she devoted her entire adult life. Born in Ukraine and raised in Milwaukee, Golda emigrated to British-mandated Palestine in 1921 at the age of 23. A fervent supporter of working class rights, she believed firmly in socialism as the best means for establishing and maintaining a Jewish community and, eventually, a Jewish state in Palestine, and she devoted her energy almost exclusively to that end. Not very well educated, always seeing things as black or white, known for her stubbornness, she was also a tireless worker, a charismatic speaker, and a valuable link between Jews in Israel and Jews (and their money and political pull) in the United States.
The author does an excellent job of not only giving us an intimate look at Meir, but also describing international politics, diplomatic machinations, and Israel's internal political struggles (in 700 pages and with a cast of thousands!). It's clear that she was a large part of Israel's exciting history, and this biography is also an excellent look at nearly a century of the history of Palestine. For me, it was refreshing to read a history of the area that was not written from the European or American perspective. Now I want to read some equally even-handed biographies of the Arab leaders with whom she was involved.— Alice
The definitive biography of the iron-willed leader, chain-smoking political operative, and tea-and-cake-serving grandmother who became the fourth prime minister of Israel Golda Meir was a world figure unlike any other. Born in tsarist Russia in 1898, she immigrated to America in 1906 and grew up in Milwaukee, where from her earliest years she displayed the political consciousness and organizational skills that would eventually catapult her into the inner circles of Israel's founding generation. Moving to mandatory Palestine in 1921 with her husband, the passionate socialist joined a kibbutz but soon left and was hired at a public works office by the man who would become the great love of her life. A series of public service jobs brought her to the attention of David Ben-Gurion, and her political career took off. Fund-raising in America in 1948, secretly meeting in Amman with King Abdullah right before Israel's declaration of independence, mobbed by thousands of Jews in a Moscow synagogue in 1948 as Israel's first representative to the USSR, serving as minister of labor and foreign minister in the 1950s and 1960s, Golda brought fiery oratory, plainspoken appeals, and shrewd deal-making to the cause to which she had dedicated her life--the welfare and security of the State of Israel and its inhabitants.
As prime minister, Golda negotiated arms agreements with Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger and had dozens of clandestine meetings with Jordan's King Hussein in the unsuccessful pursuit of a land-for-peace agreement with Israel's neighbors. But her time in office ended in tragedy, when Israel was caught off guard by Egypt and Syria's surprise attack on Yom Kippur in 1973. Analyzing newly available documents from Israeli government archives, Francine Klagsbrun looks into whether Golda could have prevented that war and whether in its darkest days she contemplated using nuclear force. Resigning in the war's aftermath, she spent her final years keeping a hand in national affairs and bemusedly enjoying international acclaim. Klagsbrun's superbly researched and masterly recounted story of Israel's founding mother gives us a Golda for the ages.
About the Author
FRANCINE KLAGSBRUN is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day and Married People: Staying Together in the Age of Divorce. Lioness received the 2017 National Jewish Book Award/Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year. Klagsbrun was also the editor of the best-selling Free to Be . . . You and Me and is a regular columnist for The Jewish Week, a contributing editor to Lilith, and on the editorial board of Hadassah magazine. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, and Ms. Magazine. She lives in New York City.