Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan

Israel's Controversial Hero

By Mordechai Bar-On

Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300149418, 247pp.

Publication Date: July 17, 2012


Instantly recognizable with his iconic eye patch, Moshe Dayan (1915-1981) was one of Israel's most charismatic--and controversial--personalities. As a youth he earned the reputation of a fearless warrior, and in later years as a leading military tactician, admired by peers and enemies alike. As chief of staff during the 1956 Sinai Campaign and as minister of defense during the 1967 Six Day War, Dayan led the Israel Defense Forces to stunning military victories. But in the aftermath of the bungled 1973 Yom Kippur War, he shared the blame for operational mistakes and retired from the government. He later proved himself a principled and talented diplomat, playing an integral role in peace negotiations with Egypt.

In this memorable biography, Mordechai Bar-On, Dayan's IDF bureau chief, offers an intimate view of Dayan's private life, public career, and political controversies, set against an original analysis of Israel's political environment from pre-Mandate Palestine through the early 1980s. Drawing on a wealth of Israeli archives, accounts by Dayan and members of his circle, and firsthand experiences, Bar-On reveals Dayan as a man unwavering in his devotion to Zionism and the Land of Israel. "Moshe Dayan" makes a unique contribution to the history of Israel and the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

About the Author
Mordechai Bar-On served as Moshe Dayan's bureau chief in the 1950's, chief education officer of the Israeli Defense Forces in the 1960's, a leader of the World Zionist Organization in the 1970's, and a member of the Knesset and Peace Now activist in the 1980's. He received his doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in 1992-93.

Praise For Moshe Dayan

"This well-written and absorbing book offers an authoritative account of the life of Moshe Dayan and places him in the context of larger events. Doing justice to the complex and intriguing persona of Dayan, Bar-On writes for a wide audience, both general readers and students of Israel and the Middle East. I read it with great interest and profit."—Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and author of Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs, 1948–2003
-Itamar Rabinovich