“An autobiography that makes compelling reading... Eban’s words and deeds derive from his commitment to the principle of partition [of ancient Palestine]... Eban’s testament is not only elegant, but timely.” — James Chace, The New York Times
“A ‘compelling’ and well-written autobiography by the former foreign minister of Israel that ‘dramatizes the debates within the Zionist movement that has characterized the modern history of Israel.’” — The New York Times
“This personal story is an informal and informative history of Israel's diplomacy since before the birth of the state and also includes a mixture of philosophic reflection and views on personalities and politics, all presented in Eban's well-known felicitous style.” — John C. Campbell, Foreign Affairs
“Eban's engrossing autobiography tells us a great deal about both the author and his political activities on behalf of Israel in the world arena... Impeccably written... Eban's autobiography is an important political document and personal testimonial.” — Kirkus Reviews
Abba Eban (1915-2002) was born to Lithuanian Jews in Cape Town, South Africa and named Aubrey Solomon. His father died when he was seven month old and his mother Alida Sacks moved to Britain where she remarried. In 1938, Eban graduated with honors from Queens’ College, Cambridge and began teaching Arabic, Persian and Hebrew literature at the university. During World War II, Eban worked in Cairo as a translator and censor for the British army. There he met Shoshana (Suzy) Ambache, the daughter of a Jewish businessman from Palestine, whom he married. The couple settled in Palestine where Eban worked for the British until he joined the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
At 33, he became Israel’s first permanent representative at the UN and then Israel’s ambassador to the US. He served as a Labor member of the Knesset, and as Israel’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister. A prolific lecturer and author, he wrote several books, including My people: the story of the Jews, My country: the story of modern Israel, Heritage: civilization and the Jews, Abba Eban: An Autobiography andThe new diplomacy: international affairs in the modern age.
“The Ambassador sounds a note of fierce and joyous pride in the achievements of Israel... The texts show Mr. Eban’s equal facility with the majestic phrase, the mild word and the blunt rejoinder... It need not be insisted that Mr. Eban is the oratorical equal of the incomparable Sir Winston [Churchill].” — Hal Lehrman, The New York Times
“For almost two generations, Abba Eban was Israel's voice — its messenger to the high and mighty among the nations as well as to the Jewish people all over the world. Since he first appeared at the side of Dr. Chaim Weizmann in the late 1940’s during the struggle for Jewish statehood and sovereignty, few people could articulate the Zionist and later the Israeli case with comparable eloquence and conviction.
With his Churchillian prose and almost Shakespearean cadences, his mellifluous phrases and sonorous voice carried for decades a message of hope from a people that could have lost all hope and trust in humanity after the horrors of World War II. As Ambassador to the United States and the UN, and later as Foreign Minister, he represented an Israel with which the world's liberal imagination could identify.
Larger and more powerful nations were envious of so powerful a spokesman, and his speeches became textbook models for statesmen and diplomats in distant lands. His books — which he found time to write despite the hectic demands of diplomacy — were a unique combination of enormous erudition and crystalline clarity. His scholarly training and rhetorical gifts supplemented each other in a rare fashion. Rarely has a small country been represented by a statesman of such world stature: only Thomas Masaryk and Jan Smuts come to mind to compare with him.
He was a true patriot, in the old-fashioned sense of the word: proud of his people, but never ethno-centric; a man of the world, but deeply embedded in Jewish cultural heritage; focused on the plights and tribulations of the Jewish people, but never losing the universal horizon of mankind. In short, he was a modern Jew in the best sense of the word.” — Shlomo Avineri
"This book tells what should have been known and isn't—that Israel's hidden force is as formidable as its recognized physical strength."
— Israeli President Shimon Peres