During his brief period out of office last fall, Israel’s current prime minister published an English-language memoir. Andrew Roberts writes in his review:
Most politicians’ autobiographies are turgid affairs. They tend to be written for the historical record, or for votes in the next election, or to prove that the author was always right about everything—three reliable avenues to literary failure. Because very often the authors’ successes were won as the result of negotiation and compromises in anonymous committee rooms and dingy back offices, their memoirs struggle to convey drama: long speeches are reproduced; debates over long-dead issues are reheated; readers yawn.
Then there is Benjamin Netanyahu’s autobiography, Bibi: My Story, which, as I realized around page 200, is not a politician’s autobiography at all, but an adventure story dressed up as one. It is a Tom Clancy novel written for a Tom Cruise movie adaptation, posing as a normal politician’s memoir. Yes, it has the photo of the author on the front cover and the requisite subtitle and the necessary width of a political memoir, but inside it is entirely different. Besides being a blood-and-guts page-turner more reminiscent of a film script than of the memoirs of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, it also deserves a place as one of history’s great Zionist texts.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to work out the essential truth about what drives Netanyahu: despite his achievements and longevity in office in the infamously tough bearpit of Israeli politics, he considers himself to be only the third most impressive member of his immediate family. For here is a man who is acutely conscious of having constantly to live up to the extremely high expectations of his father, Benzion, and brother Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu. Since both are dead, they cannot tell him whether he has succeeded or not. . . . The last time that I have encountered such filial piety in a book was in Winston Churchill’s two-volume biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who arguably did not deserve it, having been a beast to his son.