IsraelCast Episode 177

Matti Friedman


At the height of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was at its lowest, famed poet and singer Leonard Cohen visited the country and did a series of performances that raised the spirits of a nation. Almost 50 years later, journalist and author Matti Friedman took a deep dive into Cohen’s impromptu tour with Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai, which chronicles Cohen’s encounters with soldiers during the Yom Kippur War and also delves into Cohen’s spiritual and professional crisis and reawakening. Host Steven Shalowitz sits down with Friedman once again to discuss his research on Leonard Cohen, Israel’s attitude during the Yom Kippur War, and the importance of Cohen’s appearance in boosting soldiers’ morale.

Matti Friedman is an award-winning journalist and author. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Tablet, Smithsonian. Friedman’s last book, Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel, won the 2019 Natan Prize and the Canadian Jewish Book Award. Another of his books, Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War, was chosen in 2016 as a New York Times Notable Book and one of Amazon’s ten best books of the year.


His most recent book, Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai, came out in the U.S. and Canada in March 2022.

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