Ariel Sharon on the outskirts of Mevessert Zion, west of Jerusalem, overlooking a part of the controversial Israeli barrier between him and Har Adar, November 8, 2005.
Jim Hollander / Courtesy Reuters

He started out as a private in Israel’s 1948 war for independence -- and ended up as his country’s prime minister. He was a real hawk who voted against the 1978 peace agreement with Egypt -- but ended his public career by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. He was a man among men, with a strong body, an iron will, and steely nerves that did not desert him even under the most intensive fire; but he spent the last seven years of his life unconscious, helplessly kept alive by machines.

Ariel Sharon, originally Ariel Scheinermann, was born in 1928, the son

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