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Golda by Elinor Burkett

Golda Meir was the first female head of state in the Western world and one of the most influential women in modern history. A blend of Emma Goldman and Martin Luther King Jr. in the guise of a cookie-serving grandmother, her uncompromising devotion to shaping and defending a Jewish homeland against dogged enemies and skittish allies stunned political contemporaries and transformed Middle Eastern politics for decades to follow. She outmaneuvered Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger at their own game of Realpolitik, and led Israel through a bloody war even as she eloquently pleaded for peace, carrying her nation through its most perilous hours while she herself battled cancer.

In this masterful biography, critically acclaimed author Elinor Burkett paints a vivid portrait of a legendary woman defined by contradictions: an iron resolve coupled with magnetic charm, a kindly demeanor that disguised a stunning hard-heartedness, and a complete dedication to her country that often overwhelmed her personal relationships.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060786663
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/30/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 565,190
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Elinor Burkett has worked as a newspaper reporter, university professor, and magazine writer. A Pulitzer Prize—nominated journalist and the author of eight previous books, she divides her time between the Catskill Mountains of New York and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

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Chapter One

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.

By the time the bells of Kishinev's churches tolled noon on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1903, the 50,000 Jews of the Bessarabian capital had been huddled in terror for more than six hours. For them, it was the ninth day of Nisan, 5663, the seventh day of Passover, and they should have been celebrating the exquisite memory of freedom and deliverance from Pharaonic enslavement. The year before, they'd barely escaped the threats and bloodlust set off by the ancient calumny that Jews use the blood of young Christians in the ritual preparation of matzo. But this year, they feared they might not be so lucky.

In early February, the battered body of a Gentile boy had been discovered in a Kishinev neighborhood, and then a Christian girl committed suicide in the Jewish hospital. Suddenly, the city was awash in sinister rumors about Jewish plots. Bessarabetz, the city's only newspaper, stoked the fire with tales of Jews exploiting the toils of hapless Christians, of Jewish plots to undermine the power of the tsar, and of the international Jewish conspiracy to seize and rule the whole world.

Finally, in late March, an anonymous handbill circulated in the city's taverns and tea-houses. "Brothers, in the name of our Savoir, who shed his blood for us; in the name of our Father the Czar, who cares for his people and grants them alleviating manifests, let us exclaim in the forthcoming great day: Down with Zjids! Beat these mean degenerates, blood suckers drunk with Russian blood!"

The leaders of the panic-stricken communityhadpleaded with Governor Von Raben to arrange police protection, to no avail. So on Noch Velikoi Soobboty, the Night of the Great Saturday in the Russian Orthodox calendar, Christians chalked prominent crosses on their homes and stores, and the Jews of Kishinev boarded up their houses, nailed their shutters closed, and hunkered down for the inevitable.

It was a strange phenomenon, the majority petrified of the minority. But in that odd corner of Eastern Europe called the Pale of Settlement, Christians had been tormenting Jews ever since Catherine the Great set her mind on protecting the masses from "evil influences" by banishing Russia's Jews to the farthest and least economically significant reaches of her empire, to pieces of Russian Poland and the Ukraine, to Lithuania, Belorussia, the Crimea, and Bessarabia, until 94 percent of Russia's Jews were confined to the Pale.

There, the Jews coped by insulating themselves in their own world. Signs in Yiddish advertised Jewish-owned groceries and factories, barbers expertly twisted Hasidic side curls, and tinsmiths refurbished dented tea samovars and cooking pots for a population so poor that most Jewish communities were nothing more than warrens of hovels leaning together in dank courtyards.

They lived girded against outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence that felt like natural phenomena, as unpredictable and unavoidable as the eruption of sleeping volcanoes. For more than two decades, the fury had ignited almost regularly—in 30 Ukrainian towns in 1881, on Christmas day that same year in Warsaw, in a total of 166 towns and villages from one end of the Pale to the other. Then again, in 1882 and 1893.

That EasterSunday in Kishinev, the violence began innocuously enough: just a knot of teenage boys heckling and shoving the few Jews who dared cross Chuflinskii Square. Then the adults came, men who'd been celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with vodka or tuica, the local plum brandy, and fixed on capping it off with the first pogrom of the twentieth century.

By mid-afternoon, more than two dozen mini-gangs of two to three dozen men had fanned out along the winding alleys of the old Jewish quarter, smashing windows, kicking in doors, raiding small shops. Gradually, the crowd—the same sort of crowd that would soon turn on the tsar himself—was joined by a new and more lethal wave of rioters. Hearing a rumor that Tsar Nicolas II had given permission for a three-day orgy of Jew-beating, students and seminarians streamed out of the Royal School and area religious colleges wielding iron bars and axes.

At 13 Asiasky Street, two families trembled inside a low-roofed out-house as the rampage swept into their courtyard. They thought they'd found safety. But the crowd found them, stabbing one man, a glazier, in his neck. When he still showed signs of life, they beat him to death with sticks and truncheons. Panicked, the others in the out-house made a rush for a small attic, but the crowd spotted and followed them. So they tore their way through the roof, seeking protection in the sunlight and the gaze of a policeman, a Russian priest and scores of neighbors below. Five minutes later, their battered bodies became part of the dross of the morning's bloody frenzy.

In New Bazaar, 150 Jews organized in self-defense—but they were arrested. A grocer, blind in one eye,offered his attackers all his money, the not-so-princely sum of 50 rubles, for his life and livelihood. They took the cash, then destroyed his shop and gouged out his other eye with a sharpened stick, yelling, "You will never again look upon a Christian child."

Joseph Shainovitch's head was bashed in by a gang of drunks who then diverted themselves by driving nails through his mother-in-law's eyes. A two-year-old boy's tongue was cut out while he was still alive. Bodies were hacked in half or gutted and stuffed with chicken feathers as the city's bourgeoisie sauntered the streets in calm indifference.

For two days, the murderers, looters, and rapists ran free in the streets. When the frenzy finally died down, pages of scripture floated in the wind, and everywhere blood mixed with brick and glass, mortar and mud. The toll was 49 dead, 587 injured. More than seven hundred houses and 588 shops were destroyed. Two thousand families were left homeless.

Golda. Copyright ? by Elinor Burkett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Golda 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is both fascinating biography of Golda and thorough history of Israel. Rather than marvelling at her super human contributions, the conclusion emphasizes Golda's flaws. I would read it again regardless.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read first chapter at coming storm first result!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prologue- "RRROOOWWWWRRR!" A shriek tears through the camp. The apprentices leap from their nests, forcing their way from the den. "BADGERS!" Shrieks Lavenderpaw. Badgers tear through the camp barrier, rumbling. "Run, Cinderpaw! Take the kits and run!" Yewbranch yells at her daughter. Cinderkit obeys, grabbing Fawnkit's scruff. Runningpaw picks up Skykit. The other apprentice join them. "What about Mossykit?" Asks Fawnkit. Lavenderpaw comes over with the kit. The group bolts through the opening in the barrier. Badgers slash at them, roaring, but the young cats press on. They run through the trees, gasping and terrified. "Stop!" Leopardpaw yowls. "Stop." Her spotted gold fur is bristling. "We need rest. Is this all the kits and apprentices? Mossykit?" "Here." The little brown tom squeaks. "Fawnkit and Skykit?" "H-here." Peeps Skykit. "Littlekit?" "He's here." Woodpaw mews. "Cinderpaw? Graypaw? Lavenderpaw? Woodpaw, Runningpaw? Thistlepaw? Fleetpaw? Flickerpaw? And Jaypaw?" "All here." Graypaw mews, her blue eyes flicking to the darkening sky. "Okay, good. It looks like rain. We should keep going until the rain starts, just to get as far from camp as possible." Leopardpaw explains. "What about Mommy?" Whimpers Fawnkit. "I-I'm sorry, Fawnkit. Heronflight couldn't make it." Leopardpaw tells the light brown shekit sadly, her voice shaking. "No one but us could." She adds softly, her words hanging in the air. ~Moonchaser
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Prolouge: "Nooooo!" wailed Serinaclaw as the rain fell upon her unexpectedly. "Serinaclaw!" yowled Viservine, as Serinaclaws pelt began to hiss and the fur started to melt away. "I can bearly move!" Serinaclaw yowled back as she slowly moved torward a sheltering tree. Almost all her fur was gone. "Try!" called Mathsun. When she was almost to the tree, Serinaclaw melted away.