The Israeli historian Tom Segev paints a conflicting portrait of Israel’s founder in his monumental A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion. Originally published in Hebrew, Haim Watzman’s translation is excellent. Unlike Ben-Gurion’s previous biographers, even the best of whom found it impossible not to stray at times in to hagiography, Segev is unsparing in his depiction of the less appealing sides of his private and political personalities. He also convincingly and meticulously builds the case for Ben-Gurion as a visionary leader, efficient organiser and persuasive advocate without whose efforts Israel, as an independent and sovereign state, may never have come into being... A State at Any Cost deserves to be the definitive biography of Ben-Gurion. It is the story of a hard-headed, pragmatic and ruthless politician, told without sentimentality or nostalgia. It also serves as a key to understanding today’s Israel, which is still very much Ben-Gurion’s creation.