Shimon Peres wrote his own monument. Not the one over his Mount Herzl grave, mind you, but a monument in the form of a book, a sort of final epilogue recounting the ninth president's decades-long impressive work, running parallels to most of Israel's existence.
And as someone who has boasted throughout the years of his rather close relations with reality, and especially with the younger the generation, Peres delivered a book that's contemporary through and through, written in today's language: short, to the point, slender and saccharine.
Each successful (figurative) chapter in the life of the deceased leader received only a scant number of pages. Short and to the point. "Veni, vidi, vici."
At times, it seemed Peres sat at his desk to write this memoir, and decided to use a multilayered filter, removing everything you don't need to know from the finished book. And if you did know about it, it's probably best you forget.
Indeed, No Room for Small Dreams leaves out the despicable, small-minded politicking aspects of his esteemed career. It won't be telling you about his rivalry-cum-enmity with Yitzhak Rabin, for instance, nor would it be sharing the former prime minister's resounding electoral defeats.
Even Peres's exoduses from Mapai, and then from the Labor Party, weren't deemed worthy of mention, perhaps because in his twilight years Peres did not consider them worth boasting over.
Ever the artist of words and phrasing, the master of clever wordplay, Peres left in only a laundry list of success: the Dimona reactor, the Aerospace Industries, Operation Entebbe, the economic recuperation and killing off inflation, the non dream, the Lavi, the start-up nation and, naturally, peace with Jordan and the Palestinians.
Peres provides the whole shebang, ladies and gentlemen, in only 200 pages, neatly packaged in small, cholesterol-free portions. Not just cholesterol-free, in fact, but also failure- and disappointment-free.
Peres leaves behind a spotless, shining monument inscribed with insights engraved in marble. If you've ever seen or read a Peres interview, you'll be able to recite these in your sleep. I, for instance, am exactly that sort of person.
There's therefore nothing earth-shattering, or even mildly surprising about this book. Most Israelis over 20 have seen it all before in some comprehensive piece or other. The rest of Israel, however, with their heads firmly in their smartphones, have not. Peres wrote this book with them in mind.
Still, reading the book is a joy. Peres—even in his later days—was lucid, sharp and erudite. His stories are riveting, and his vision enviable. His image, even seen from the mirror he himself has placed, is inspiring. His leadership makes one envious of the historical opportunities afforded Peres, a man who didn't know when—or how—to stop.
Peres was a giant by any definition of the word, even when he was diminutive for a moment due to politics or embitterment at something someone once wrote about him. In the end, his greatness surpassed his shortcomings, and his rare, elegant figure will not be lost to us.
Or, as Peres himself would say, who cares about small, gossipy details such as political infighting? The bigger things are what matters, and what persists.
Another historical giant, Oscar Wilde, perhaps said it best: "The truth about the life of a man is not what he does, but the legend which he creates around himself."