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In 1977, after serving as a spokesperson for democracy and the movement for free emigration in the Soviet Union, Natan Sharansky was arrested. He spent nine years as a political prisoner, convicted of treason against the state. In fact, Sharansky was fighting for individual freedom in the face of overt tyranny, a struggle that would come to define the rest of his life.
In Never Alone, Natan Sharansky and historian Gil Troy show how Sharansky’s years in prison, many spent in harsh solitary confinement, prepared him for a very public life after his internationally celebrated release. As an Israeli politician and the head of the Jewish Agency, Sharansky brought extraordinary moral clarity and uncompromising and often uncomfortable honesty. Never a follower of tradition for tradition’s sake, or someone who placed expediency or convenience ahead of consistent values, Sharansky was an often awkward political colleague but always visionary in his appreciation of where the real threats to freedom lay. Never Alone is suffused with reflections from his time as a political prisoner, as a witness to historic moments in Israel and the Middle East, along with his missionary efforts to unite the Jewish diaspora.
Having written a book for our times, explaining how you can be in isolation for nine years, but know, thanks to the Jewish people, that you are Never Alone, Sharansky and Troy nevertheless resist some of the trends of our times. Amid today’s cancel culture, they call for dialogue. Despite all the bleak predictions of an Israel-Diaspora split, they show how to bridge the gap. In a partisan age that even makes the fight against anti-Semitism a left-right flashpoint, they demand consistency while seeking unity. And, while watching so many thinkers today bash Israel, repudiate Zionism, dismiss democracy, abhor nationalism, and defend Socialism, they defend Israel, embrace Zionism, champion democracy, justify liberal nationalism, and argue against all forms of totalitarianism. In so doing, they also demonstrate to the next generation, their deep commitment to having a proud Jewish identity while fighting for freedom, rejecting the false choices between universalism and particularism the modern media tries foisting on us.
Written with frankness, affection, and humor, the book offers us profound insights from a man who embraced the essential human struggle: to find his own voice when it was denied him, his own faith and the people to whom he could belong.