The World: Begin: A Courtly Spartan

Shortly after he was felled by a massive heart attack last March, Menachem Begin, 64, motioned his private secretary to his hospital bedside. She feared it might be his final message. Begin whispered: "Your new haircut suits you much better than the old one."

Kind words and an old-fashioned European courtliness are both part of the Begin style. So is a certain autocratic manner. There is no mistaking who runs Israel's Cabinet sessions; smoking is forbidden, aides are barred, ministers are provided with top-secret information on a need-to-know basis—and heaven help anyone who leaks to the press.

A man of spartan tastes, Begin...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!