Anwar Sadat, a man of spectacular achievements and failures, idolized by many but a champion at making enemies, a patriot and martyr scarcely mourned in his own country, is a fascinating subject for biographers. This portrait by an Israeli scholar is inquiring, candid and fair. On the early years he has some interesting items gleaned from Sadat's relatives and friends. As for the period of political activity, he lets Sadat's speeches, writings and published interviews tell most of the story, and so for the decade of the 1970s the book becomes a retelling of the course of Egypt's domestic policies and international diplomacy as seen from the top. The author does try, however, with some license but plausibly, to probe Sadat's motives and to explain the psychological factors bearing on his conduct and decisions. All in all, he succeeds in his modest aim of illuminating some aspects of a complex personality.