Many people claim Ariel Sharon´s life is the State of Israel´s life. He was a moshavnick, then a soldier, then an officer, then a general, then Defense Minister, then Prime Minister, then very unfortunately, and to the detriment of not only the State of Israel but all Jews around the world, he died in 2014. He was an extremely controversial figure, a very strong and determined man, a great battlefield general and a skillful politician.
Sharon had a deep sense of patriotism and high moral standards. He used to fight, both literally and figuratively, to achieve what he believed was best for the country and the Jews. It´s easy to acknowledge those traits throughout his whole history, his decisions were always clear-cut and strong as rock, and he would go miles to achieve the end result in mind. It´s important to understand all the confidence and tenacity came from his guts, his beliefs of right and wrong and the will to improve the State and protect its citizens. This self-assurance and determination sometimes collided head to head with other loud opinions, causing all the controversies we hear until today. Sharon´s actions and incredible feats during his lifetime were the illustration of those beliefs, both in the battlefield and in the political spectrum. That´s why Sharon was called the Bulldozer by some, but Hero by all.
There are several biographies written about him. I have read two of them so far: Warrior written by Ariel Sharon himself, and Arik written by the journalist David Landau, released the same year Sharon died. If you sympathized with Ariel Sharon you will prefer Warrior, if not, Arik.
Warrior, obviously, is Ariel Sharon´s version of his life events. The book is very poignant at times; you can feel Ariel´s emotions when he is talking about events such as his fighting experience in the Independence War, his love for the land, his anger towards the IDF leadership during the Yom Kippur War, or the sadness and emptiness he felt when his son died.
In my opinion Sharon really was a Hero; one of the great, if not the greatest, general in the history of the State of Israel, and Warrior portrays it so more than Arik. I know you will think it´s not fair, since the book was written by Sharon himself, how could it be otherwise? I cannot say Sharon is humble since he does like to display his battle skills in contrast to other generals, but it´s easy to observe he is always more concerned about the welfare of the State and the Jews.
When reading Warrior, you must know you are reading Sharon´s biased views on the events, but still, it´s one the best biographies I have read so far. The book is very strong, and it describes Arik´s life in synergy with the History of Israel. At the same time, is filled with Sharon´s opinions, which aren´t light at all, and many anecdotes. Personally, I was always curious about his relationships with other personalities, like Moshe Dayan or Menachem Begin. The only thing I was not happy about, is that the book ends in the mid 1980´s and you don´t get any of the stories after that.
Arik by Landau looks more like a biography we are used to reading. It´s denser and it tries to fill in the blanks with many more details. Unlike Warrior, it is more complete, showing the different points of view of the events, being very critical of the man and his actions on several issues. Arik does go through all of Sharon´s life up to his stroke and death in 2014, but at the same time, it doesn´t have the same feeling or effect on you.
Although I am a huge fan and admirer of Ariel Sharon, I can´t say Landau is wrong to portray all the doubts and controversies that are left open in Sharon´s life journey. Those controversies did happen and they had huge consequences for the State of Israel. If you really want to know the events that shaped Ariel Sharon´s life, you have to know both sides of the story, such as the Sabra and Shatila massacre, his movement to dislocate the Sinai settlers, the construction of a security wall to separate West Bank from Israel or the war in Gaza. Landau´s book will give you that.
If you are looking for facts and pure history choose Landau´s. If you want a first person perspective, with all that it entails, choose Warrior. You should not read one without the other. They complement each other. This is my politically correct suggestion.
As for my politically incorrect suggestion, choose Warrior for sure. Sharon deserves much more than facts. He was a force to be recognised and admired. He was a general of the highest caliber. Thus, if you’re not feeling it, you’re simply not getting the full picture. A pity that would be.
As a side note and last thought, I keep wondering how else Sharon could´ve shaped Israel´s history was he still alive today.