A Life for Israel Critical Context - Essay

Arnold Dobrin

Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

A Life for Israel was important at the time of its publication, largely for being the first biography of Golda Meir for this age group. The book appeared shortly after Meir’s retirement in 1974, when the world’s attention was focused on her and when the United States was coming to respect the contributions women have made to national and international history. The book became immediately popular as a tool for helping explain to young people the incendiary politics of the Middle East and for celebrating the contributions of intelligent and strong women. More than two decades later, as schools acted on a new call for multicultural studies, a book such as this one that offers Jewish history and culture and a strong female central character found renewed demand.

Although A Life for Israel is no longer in print, it remains on the shelves of many public and school libraries. Its approach seems old-fashioned to some, but Arnold Dobrin’s scholarship remains unquestionable. Although A Life for Israel may have been replaced in some classrooms by the more objectively toned (and somewhat easier to read) Our Golda: The Story of Golda Meir (1984), by David A. Adler, the passion of this work, the index and bibliography, and the irreplaceable photographs make it invaluable for students and teachers alike who seek a jumping-off place for further study.