Major Farran's Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State

Overview

In May 1947 a sixteen-year-old Jewish activist named Alexander Rubowitz was abducted in broad daylight from the streets of Jerusalem. At the abduction scene, a gray hat was found, purportedly belonging to Major Roy Farran, a decorated World War II officer who was in charge of British counterterrorism in Palestine. As evidence mounted against Farran, the Zionist underground swore vengeance. The episode precipitated a series of nail-biting twists and turns that had far-reaching ...

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Major Farran's Hat: The Untold Story of the Struggle to Establish the Jewish State

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Overview

In May 1947 a sixteen-year-old Jewish activist named Alexander Rubowitz was abducted in broad daylight from the streets of Jerusalem. At the abduction scene, a gray hat was found, purportedly belonging to Major Roy Farran, a decorated World War II officer who was in charge of British counterterrorism in Palestine. As evidence mounted against Farran, the Zionist underground swore vengeance. The episode precipitated a series of nail-biting twists and turns that had far-reaching consequences.

An engaging mix of true crime and polemical narrative history, peopled by a cast of luminaries including Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Menachem Begin, and Golda Meir, Major Farran’s Hat investigates shady violence, scandaluos cover-ups, and political expediency. It also explores why Britain lost Palestine, as well as how its counterinsurgency and diplomatic strategies collided so disastrously. By exposing Britain’s legacy in the Middle East, this historical thriller echoes today’s war on terror and pointedly illustrates the circumstances surrounding the birth of the State of Israel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, 7/1/09
“A pointedly argued account of the relentless violence by both British and Jewish groups that brought about the end of the British rule in Palestine. In this…cogent work, the author demonstrates how the British ‘special squads’ descended into criminality-and were matched in their militancy by Jewish groups such as the Irgun. Sound, sober, historical documentation.”

Booklist
“This is a necessary reminder about the underside of empire and the creation of nations.”

Washington Times
“A soundly researched history of an event worth remembering…A book worth having and referring to when contemplating the critical postwar years of the Palestine Mandate.”

Forbes.com
“Riveting and dramatic”

Washington Jewish Post
“Cesarani resurrects a long-forgotten murder of a young Jewish boy in Jerusalem that may have lessons for us today.”

The Jerusalem Post
“A wonderful book…riveting, persuasive”

New York Post, 9/13
“Cesarani dons his thriller cap to tell how Britain’s use of violent and extralegal activities helped hasten losing its mandate in Palestine.”

Jewish Book World, Spring 2010
“A gripping, suspenseful account of a government’s intentional perversion of justice. Treating the Rubowitz case as a microcosm of the struggle for a Jewish state sheds new light on these world-historical events as well as on the case itself.”

Multicultural Review, Spring 2010
“A highly recommended and fascinating book…Readers interested in British or Jewish history and crime will find this book very intriguing… [with] important lessons for Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Kirkus Reviews
A British historian presents a pointedly argued account of the relentless violence by both British and Jewish groups that brought about the end of British rule in Palestine. Using the example of the abduction and murder of 16-year-old activist Alexander Rubowitz on May 6, 1947, Cesarani (History/Royal Holloway, Univ. of London; Becoming Eichmann, 2006, etc.) shows how British counterinsurgency measures not only failed to gain control of Jewish terrorist groups in Palestine in the mid-1940s, but essentially provoked such a violent backlash that the British recognized the game was up. Rubowitz, who was hanging posters in a neighborhood of Jerusalem for the terrorist group LEHI (aka the Stern Gang), was bundled into a car by men in civilian clothes, one of whom dropped a hat. When Rubowitz did not return home, the family broadcast his disappearance, and the hat was traced to former World War II war hero, now deputy superintendent of police, Major Roy Farran. There ensued feeble attempts at obfuscation and cover-up on the part of the British Army, who were apprised by Farran's account and others involved that Rubowitz had been tortured to death and his body vanished. Although Farran was clearly implicated, he was allowed to elude justice even after his court martial, and he was later celebrated in England. Cesarani combs through the bloody history of the British in the region, the early Zionist movement and push for Jewish migration and the Jewish retaliation against British resistance to increased migration after WWII. In this dense but cogent work, the author demonstrates how the British "special squads" descended into criminality-and were matched in their militancy by Jewish groups such asthe Irgun. Sound, sober historical documentation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306818455
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/11/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Cesarani, one of Britain’s leading historians, is Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, London University, and author of the award-winning Becoming Eichmann. He has published widely on Jewish history and the history of Zionism. He lives in London.

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