Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Israel after studying the major conflicts such as the Yom Kippur War and the 6 Day War in History at school, a small country surrounded on three sides by countries that have tried and failed to destroy it. I also had a slight hero worship of Moshe Dayan after reading about the Raid On Entebbe when even younger. This was clearly before I became more politically aware and started to understand not only the insurrection against the British that led to the formation of the Israeli state but also the complex political issues of the region.
I have to say I'm not a great fan of autobiographies but when I spotted a copy of Ariel Sharon's book Warrior lying around at work, I jumped at the chance to read it and get his take on prominent events in Israeli history. What I wasn't expecting was such a great read and a lot of detail regarding military history and tactics as well as the political.
There is some detail on his childhood working on his father's farm, but the bulk of the work describes Arik's rise in the military from his humble beginnings to high-ranking officer; his service with the Jewish Settlement Police through his formation of the paratroops to his long service as senior commander with the Israeli Defence Force. Sharon covers all the major campaigns and battles that he was part of, recalling a lot of detail, particularly about the men he fought alongside and lost on the way. He also does not mince his words regarding his struggle to get military decisions approved and his bitter disappointment when things didn't go his way and the inevitable failure or defeat was forced upon the IDF. Obviously we only have Sharon's word about most of this but it's on public record and his writing style make the book an informative detailed and easy read.
Whilst the vast bulk is made up of his military service, the latter part is focused on his political career up to 1983. What I hadn't realised was how dominant the Labor movement was within Israeli politics and how crucial Sharon was, still a military man at the time, to breaking the electoral stranglehold that would finally allow a coalition of sorts to finally rule in Israel.
It's clear from his writings that Sharon has some respect for his Arab neighbours, both militarily and politically, even though most of the decisions and opinions he expresses are clearly focussed on what is best for his home country. It's also clear that Sharon believes that the interference of the US stopped an overdue peace process from occuring in the late 70's/early 80's. Whether he is right or not is open to debate.
A cracking read, but maybe not for everyone...