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Washington Post: Diane Cole Reviews Matti Friedman's "Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen In The Sinai"

Photograph of Leonard Cohen in Toronto by Aaron Harris/AP

Writing in The Washington Post, Diane Cole reviews Matti Friedman's new book Who by Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai, which examines the famed singer-songwriter's decision to leave his wife and family and place himself in the Sinai desert during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Privately, he lashed out at Suzanne, declared that he felt trapped by fatherhood and railed against his own failings with savage self-loathing. In the brutally candid pages from an unpublished manuscript that Friedman was given permission to excerpt here, Cohen described himself as “gritting my teeth from looking at the wreck of beauty and living inside of hatred and keeping to my side of the bed and always screaming no this can’t be my life inside my head.”

He also wrote that as he listened, in October 1973, to reports of the outbreak of war between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria, “I wanted to go fight and die.” Enraged and distraught, he decided on an impulse — was it a suicidal one? — to catch the next flight to Tel Aviv.

Full review here.