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GOLDA
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Elinor Burkett has worked as a newspaper reporter, university professor, and magazine writer. A Pulitzer Prize--nominated journalist and the author of eight previous books, she divides her time between the Catskill Mountains of New York and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

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As Israel's prime minister from 1969 to 1974, Golda Meir (1898-1978) was recognized by her wrinkled face and gray bun. But, Burkett (Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School) says in this sympathetic but balanced biography, the young Meir was so strikingly attractive that detractors grumbled she had slept her way up the political hierarchy. The rise of the Russian-born, Milwaukee-bred Golda Mabovitz, however, was due to her enormous popularity in the U.S. as a fund-raiser for a struggling Jewish settlement in pre-statehood Palestine. Meir was politicized by memories of poverty and anti-Semitism in czarist Russia and by a feisty, older sister who introduced her to socialist Zionism. A Zionist pioneer, Meir secretly negotiated with Jordan's King Abdullah before the U.N. vote to partition Palestine; became a fervent supporter of Soviet Jewry after her reluctant stint as Israel's first ambassador to Moscow; and hesitantly approved the assassination of Palestinian terrorists responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Burkett says the price of Meir's nonstop political life was rocky relationships with her children and estranged husband. This is a solidly researched, highly readable portrait of a mesmerizing but, according to Burkett, ultimately lonely woman, though much of the material is familiar. 8 pages of b&w photos. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

To coincide with the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding, journalist Burkett (So Many Enemies, So Little Time) offers a fascinating examination of Golda Meir's public and private selves and her devotion to the creation and defense of the Jewish state. She also assesses Golda's hard-nosed leadership style. Though most of Israel's heavyweights, including David Ben-Gurion, respected Meir, many felt that she was not the right choice to be Israel's prime minister. But she had a load of self-confidence, was a brilliant orator, and proved to be conscientious, determined, dependable, and more than capable. Burkett maintains that the complex and formidable Golda saw the world only in black and white, cajoling friends and foes into agreeing with what she thought was right for the welfare of Israel. For over 50 years, about 30 of them as prime minister, she nearly always prevailed. As Burkett shows, her personal life was another story. She cast her husband and two children into secondary positions, paying them little attention and causing her marriage to wither away. An eye-opening account of a legendary world leader that academic and public libraries will want to buy.-Lisa Nussbaum, Buffalo, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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