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Visionary Who Dared by Joseph Finklestone - Egyptian President Anwar Sadat

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This biography written by, Joseph Finklestone, a revolutionary Israeli journalist provides a telling testimony of just how difficult it has been even for a civilized educated Israeli nation to understand the pros and the cons of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's admirable passion for peace. The failures of this book arises from the author's evident limited knowledge of Egyptian history and his distorted sense of the social world through which his advocacy transpires, resulting in a biographical method anchored in cognitive speculation. These very failures explain the huge abyss that continues to separate even favorable Israelis from Arabs who wish to revolutionize the Arab-Israeli relationship. In this bitter sense, though not for this reason alone, Joseph Finklestone has written a biographical piece of the "visionary who dared."

His scoop interview with the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, the first ever given to a Jewish journalist, won him the David Holden Award in 1991, a special category within the British Press Awards, honoring the Sunday Times correspondent murdered in Cairo the previous year. He approaches this biographical piece with an account of his inspiration of the character of this book, Anwar Sadat. He was called personally to the Presidents home in Alexandria and given an interview to express his concern and passion for peace in the Israeli-Arab conflict. This seemed to drive the author to inquire more of Sadat and starts the biography was his childhood days and his inspirations.

President Sadat as an envoy for peace, as this account makes clear, was not very transparent to his counterparts. None of the major historical currents that have shaped modern Egyptian history emerge in recognizable form in this biography. Some of those missing pieces were:

* The great contradiction of President Gamal Abdel Nasser's anti-Western campaign which in effect actually furthered the Westernization of Egypt and concluded in the 'Infitah' policy to private investment.

* The unconscionable physical and emotional assault of the British colonial dispute. All of these currents left their mark on the life of Sadat, yet not a trace of them is to be found in Finklestone's account.

If Finkelstein had written about these currents, Israelis, favorable to Sadat's personal story, might have learned more about

* The experienced bottom line of colonizing power,

* The hopes aroused by a flailing nationalist revolution and even about

* The powerful pull of the call to Muslim basics in an age of corruption and downfall.

Instead, Finklestone's Sadat marches grandly above these historical aspects; he is presented here as driven instead by personal qualities, things like "his strong sense of justice, fairness, and pride, which he learned from his grandmother".

The grace of Sadat's demeanor, and

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