As a man and scholar, Amos Perlmutter (1931-2001) stood out for his intellectual honesty, although rectitude in this case was wedded to a jovial personality and an unfailing wit. Having emigrated as a child alongside his parents and sister from Europe to Israel, Amos served his adopted country as a military officer. By all accounts, he had served in three Arab- Israeli wars, though he treated his military experiences in an offhanded way, without dwelling on the risks to life he had incurred. He came to the United States to complete his education, receiving a doctorate in political science at Harvard and subsequently teaching there and at American University. Among his 16 books and multitudinous articles are studies on authoritarian government and on the building of the Israeli armed forces, a biography of Menachem Begin, and an exploration of the troubled relations between FDR and Stalin (published in 1994 by the University of Missouri Press).

In all of his major work, Amos was never shy about expressing unfashionable views. In accordance with his stated reverence for George C. Patton, he displayed a martial disregard for the social implications of what he said and published. Despite his longtime association with the right in both Israel and the United States, Amos published a highly critical study of Israeli Premier Begin, whom he showed to be a whiny, inept successor of the earlier right-wing Jewish nationalist Zeev Jabotinsky. Having been commissioned by Policy Review to discuss what some thought to be a flattering biography, I saw my piece killed when I discovered that Amos had not produced the desired puffery. When I asked why he had written such a biography given his likely markets, he explained quite simply: “That’s where the research took me!” (To my misfortune, Amos wrote a professional recommendation for me that stressed our shared quality of speaking our minds, which, he went on to observe, were explosively conservative.)

His death in June came as unexpected news. Although we had seen little of each other since I left suburban Washington, I continued to read Amos’s publications and looked forward to meeting him at professional gatherings. His distaste for p.c. moralizing was vocal and widely known; it was pure delight to watch him lash out in anger after listening to some annoying windbag who had cornered him at a meeting or lecture. (Feminists were his special bêtes noires.) A few days before his death from intestinal cancer (a condition he had kept hidden from his friends), Amos did an unforgettable kindness, faxing to my prospective publisher a letter full of high (and perhaps excessive) praise for a book that is now at press. It pains me to think of the discomfort to a very sick man caused by this act, but it is gratifying nonetheless to recall this final kindness from a generous and honorable spirit.