The Once and Future King

David Wolpe, Newsweek’s pick for most influential U.S. rabbi in 2012, serves as rabbi of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. When approached by Yale University Press to write about an important Jewish figure, Wolpe says “the choice was easy and obvious.” He chose his Biblical namesake, the “most complex character” in the Bible. So complex is David, in fact, that Wolpe reports that in one well-known ancient text, the rabbis confessed they “were unable to make sense” of his character. Yet, that’s just what Wolpe sets out to do. The result is David: The Divided Heart, a character study of Israel’s greatest king.

The Churchill Falter

Boris Johnson, Winston Churchill /

In the introduction to The Churchill Factor, Boris Johnson notes that “there are a hundred books a year on [Churchill].” Churchill ranks with Lincoln, Napoleon, and Jesus Christ as one of the most popular biographical subjects in world history. And many of these biographies are very good. Recent entries, both titled Churchill, include Roy Jenkins’ 1,002-page tome and Paul Johnson’s (no relation to Boris) briefer romp.