The Life and Though of A.D. Gordon: Pioneer, Philosopher and Prophet of Modern Israel, by Hebert H. Rose, was written in 1964 to chronicle A.D. Gordon,an early Zionist figure who left a unique mark on the movement. He was, in many ways, the paradigm of the New Jew being created in Palestine in early twentieth century. He was an intellectual, but he advocated the sanctity of physical work. He was from the middle class, but wished to create a land of laboring Hebrews. He was a Socialist who coordinated Zionist nationalism with collective ideals.
It is easy to mythologize Gordon. In a modern Israel that is very far from its ideological roots, and is split into many secular and religious factions, Gordon looks back to an early era of rough and ready idealism; a time when Zionism had yet to bloody its nose on too many intractable facts on the ground. Gordon’s status is a myth, but at this point in the history of Israel I find it a pleasing one, uncluttered by too many conflicting details.
Unfortunately, Rose buries Gordon under the weight of contextualization. There is some straight biography, but he is far more interested in showing the readers Gordon’s intellectual influence and precursors. So in the end, the reader gets only a small taste of A.D. Gordon. The man is buried in the thing he tried to escape --- crippling abstract thought.