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October 22 , 2008

Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky (Book One)


Shmuel Katz’s detailed and comprehensive biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880–1940) is an unabashedly partisan defense of one of the most complex Zionists of the early 20th century. Jabotinsky was a Russian poet, playwright, journalist, and novelist as well as the founder of Revisionist Zionism and of Betar. His oratory in many languages was legendary. Katz first heard him speak in South Africa in the early part of the 20th century and was so impressed that he dropped out of university to work for Revisionist Zionism.

Katz recounts Jabotinsky’s efforts to create the Jewish Legion during World War I, traces the history of Jewish relations with the British during the time of the Palestine Mandate, describes Jabotinsky’s role in the defense of the Jewish Yishuv and in organizing the Af-Al-Pi “illegal” Jewish immigration to Palestine before World War II. He paints a vivid mural of competing Jewish personalities, factions and ideologies in the decades before the establishment of Israel.

“Shmuel Katz has written an intelligent, journalistic account of Jabotinsky’s life […] and was able to use a substantial amount of previously unavailable material, particularly British archival documents. Although Katz clearly has tremendous respect and affection for Jabotinsky, he does not hesitate to criticize him, for example, for his ineffectiveness as a fundraiser [...] Lone Wolf’s greatest strength is its comprehensive breadth. Every major event and many minor incidents are extensively covered. Furthermore, Katz has taken the rather unorthodox move of including verbatim large sections of Jabotinsky’s original speeches and writings.” — Paul Radensky, H-Net

“[S]cholarly and yet totally gripping... we must be everlastingly grateful [...] to Shmuel Katz for so masterfully giving [Jabotinsky’s] memory fresh life... this [book] — quiet, calm, and, while certainly partisan, without a single shrill note — may one day help to direct the course of Israel’s seemingly endless argument with itself.” — Midge Decter, Commentary Magazine

“Dr. Katz's monumental and superb biography is a balanced, detailed story of a lion and not a wolf. (Ze'ev in Hebrew means a wolf and this is the reason why the title isLone Wolf)” — Jewish Post

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