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Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai

Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai

by Matti Friedman
Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai

Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai

by Matti Friedman


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"An expedition into the troubled soul of one of the world’s greatest songwriters."Haaretz 

"Not only is a hidden side of Cohen revealed but so too a hidden side of Israel."David Bezmozgis

The little-known story of Leonard Cohen’s concert tour to the front lines of the Yom Kippur War, including never-before-seen selections from an unfinished manuscript by Cohen and rare photographs

In October 1973, the poet and singer Leonard Cohen—thirty-nine years old, famous, unhappy, and at a creative dead end—traveled from his home on the Greek island of Hydra to the chaos and bloodshed of the Sinai desert when Egypt attacked Israel on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur. Moving around the front with a guitar and a group of local musicians, Cohen met hundreds of young soldiers, men and women at the worst moment of their lives. Those who survived never forgot the experience. And the war transformed Cohen. He had announced that he was abandoning his music career, but he instead returned to Hydra and to his family, had a second child, and released one of the best albums of his career. In Who by Fire, journalist Matti Friedman gives us a riveting account of those weeks in the Sinai, drawing on Cohen’s previously unpublished writing and original reporting to create a kaleidoscopic depiction of a harrowing, formative moment for both a young country at war and a singer at a crossroads.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781954118072
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Publication date: 04/05/2022
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 40,035
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

MATTI FRIEDMAN is an award-winning journalist and author. Born in Toronto and based in Jerusalem, his work has appeared regularly in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Tablet, and elsewhere. Friedman’s last book, Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel, won the 2019 Natan Prize and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history. Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War was chosen in 2016 as a New York Times Notable Book and one of Amazon’s 10 best books of the year. His first book, The Aleppo Codex, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize and the ALA’s Sophie Brody Medal.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Radar Station 528, Sharm el-Sheikh 11

2 The Gate of Heaven 23

3 Egypt's Bullet: From Cohen's Lost Manuscript 29

4 According to Whose Plan? 37

5 A Wound in the Jewish War: From Cohen's Lost Manuscript 43

6 Myth Home 50

7 Beginning Again 56

8 Who by Water 62

9 A Shield Against the Enemy 69

10 Brothers 78

11 In the Desert 84

12 Tea and Oranges 88

13 No Words 91

14 Already Wet 98

15 Psychology 106

16 Respite 110

17 The Story of Isaac 111

18 Yukon 116

19 Africa 123

20 Blood on Your Hands 135

21 Radar Station 528, Sharm el-Sheikh 146

22 Bathsheba 150

23 Let It Be 156

24 War Is a Dream 165

25 Who by Fire 173

26 A Blessing 180

Notes on Sources 189

Photo Credits 203

Acknowledgments 205

About the Author 207

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