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Bibi

Written by: Anshel Pfeffer
Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
Length: 18 hrs and 46 mins

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Publisher's Summary

A deeply reported biography of the scandal-plagued Israeli prime minister, showing that we cannot understand Israel - its history, present, and future - without first understanding the life and worldview of the man who leads it 

Benjamin Netanyahu is embroiled in numerous scandals, all of his own making, and may soon be ousted from the office he has held longer than any prior Israeli prime minister outside of David Ben Gurion. But Bibi, as he is known by friend and foe alike, is no stranger to controversy. For many in Israel and elsewhere, he is an embarrassment, a threat to democracy, even a precursor to Donald Trump. He nevertheless continues to dominate Israeli public life - and he may yet survive his current crises, the most challenging of his career. How can we explain Netanyahu's rise, his hold on Israeli politics, and his outsized role on the world's stage?  

In Bibi, the Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer argues that we must view Netanyahu as representing the triumph of the underdogs in the Zionist enterprise. Born in 1949, one year after the state of Israel itself, Netanyahu came of age in a nation dominated by liberal, secular Zionists. Yet Netanyahu's grandfather and father bequeathed to him a brand of Zionism integrating Jewish nationalism and religious traditionalism, and he identified with the groups at the margins of Israeli society: right-wing Revisionists, orthodox, Mizrahi Jews and small-time professionals living in the new towns and cities dotting the Israeli landscape. Netanyahu cultivated each faction individually and then fused them into a coalition that has frequently proven unstoppable in Israeli politics.  

Netanyahu is also a child of America, where he spent many years as a young man and where he learned the techniques of modern political campaigns as well as the necessity of controlling the media cycle. The product of the affluent East Coast Jewish community and the Reagan era, Netanyahu's politics and worldview were formed as much by American Cold War conservatism as by his family's hard-line right-wing Zionism.  

As Pfeffer demonstrates in this penetrating biography, Netanyahu's influence will endure even if his career soon comes to an end. The Israel he has helped make is a hybrid of ancient phobia and high-tech hope, tribalism, and globalism - just like the man himself.
 

©2018 Anshel Pfeffer (P)2018 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"In a career that could yet make him the longest serving Prime Minister in Israel's history, Benjamin Netanyahu turned out to be much more than the temporary speed bump in Israeli politics his critics once imagined. In this lively and trenchant biography, Anshel Pfeffer explains why and how Bibi came to dominate and embody the changing face of the remarkable and divided nation he still leads." (Aaron David Miller, vice- pesident and Middle East program director at the Woodrow Wilson Center)

"A perceptive history of a beleaguered nation and one deeply flawed leader." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Certain to elicit both consternation and praise, Anshel Pfeffer's Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu is a fascinating exploration of the complex ideological and familial foundations that continue to shape the thinking and governing of the man who may soon become Israel's longest serving Prime Minster. This is a book that will lead both Bibi's friends as well as his foes to see him a new - and infinitely more nuanced - light." (Daniel Gordis, author of Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn)

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  • Paul
  • 25-04-19

good read very informative but

I really enjoyed reading this book A lot it kept my attention the whole time and was presented very well. at the very end monologue it was apparent how much the author really didn't like Netanyahu. so I guess that has to slant the content of the book due to his views.

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  • Peter
  • 12-02-19

Compulsory reading on contemporary Israel

Anshel Pfeffer, in an all inclusive, in depth, and valuable timely biography of Benjamin Netanyahu. Pfeffer shares the lifespan, events and incidents that influenced Israels internationally controversial leader, that has been elected and lead by the majority of Israelis over the last 10 years.
If you want to understand Israel, this book is compulsory reading.

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  • Alex
  • 11-04-19

Very interesting biography but end part is lacking

This was described as a 'Netanyahu-critical biography'. But especially in the first part of the book, the author manages very well to deal fairly with his subject. Most of the focus is on Netanyahu's early life. His recent 10-year stint as prime minister receive comparatively little attention, seeing that it is the high-point of his career. This is also where the story beings to get off the rails a bit, so it might be for the better. We also hear more about Pfeffer's personal views about Netanyahu's politics, which includes accusing him of using racism for political purposes - though the evidence for this was very weak. Overall, this was much more objective than I had expected though.

A small issue is that this book gives only the bare amount of information about matters that do not directly involve Bibi. It's good enough to be able to follow the narrative, but I think it is intended for people who are already very familiar with Israeli history. I would have liked to know much more about surrounding events.

The narration is good. But pronunciation of Hebrew names is done in a Hebrew manner, which can take time to get used to. The narrator also pronounces Arabic names in the Hebrew manner, with Hamas being pronounced as 'Khamas'.