Book Review: “Bibi - My Story” by Benjamin Netanyahu
How did I get this book?
I bought it from Barnes & Noble on Tyrone Blvd with some Christmas money. The reason I bought it was because I listened to the interview that Jordan Peterson did with the author and found it fascinating.
If you’re looking for a glimpse of what’s in the book, that interview would be well worth your time.
What is is about?
It’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s autobiography. It starts with his early childhood in Jerusalem, the second of three brothers. Their father was a famous historian in Israel. He spent a few years of his childhood in America and describes what that was like, learning English, going to schools here and so forth.
Then back to Israel, he spends quite a bit of the book talking about his time in the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) and leading a special forces unit. A huge part of Bibi’s story is wrapped up in the shadow of his older brother “Yoni” who was killed in action. Those pages and Yoni’s story also loom large in Israeli culture, as his letters were compiled and released as a book.
Bibi goes back to America, gets an excellent education, is married and divorced twice and works for a couple of years with the Boston Consulting Group. He’s eventually picked up by the Ambassador’s to America’s office. This is what introduces him to the world of politics.
Because he’s been the longest serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history, the majority of the book gives the behind the scenes account of many of the news stories we’ve read. It culminates with the brief pause in 2022 where he’s the leader of the opposition and getting things organized to be elected Prime Minister for a third time.
The theme that unites the book is his passion to see Israel become strong and prosperous and therefore safe and secure.
What did I think?
This book is so inspiring. I’ve always enjoyed this genre. But, this is in another category because he’s lived an incredible life and isn’t done yet! Telling the story of his brother, Yoni, is a book in itself. Telling the story of his time in the IDF and “the Unit” would be a book in itself. And, then, of course, as a leader of Israel for decades is a book in itself. Maybe that’s why it’s 650 pages.
I had trouble putting it down. I devoured it. I’m so impressed with his parents, the education he received, and the easy way he relates the twists and turns of his life. He disperses little pearls as he goes. Books that affected him. Conversations that changed his thinking. And, bits of wisdom as a leader that guided his decisions. He is freely sharing lots of hard earned insights.
At one point, he asks his father, what would be the most important quality for a Prime Minister of Israel to have? The common answer is vision, determination, character and focus. His father says, this is true of any leader of any organization. But, what’s needed for the Prime Minister of Israel above those things is “education.” He needs to know a lot about a lot of things so that he can navigate the decisions that are brought to him without having to default to the “experts.” What a pearl of wisdom!
His time as finance minister and revolutionizing the Israeli economy was another story dripping with wisdom for anyone willing to read. Those principles were played out for their whole society, but they are true of any family and personal finances.
This is a remarkable book. I’m amazed he wrote it in longhand in the back of a car, in the back of the Knesset, and in spare rooms of houses of friends.
I really enjoyed it.