1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $25.19

Buy for $25.19

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

"An expedition into the troubled soul of one of the world’s greatest songwriters."—Haaretz

"Not only is a hidden side of Cohen revealed but so too a hidden side of Israel."—David Bezmozgis

The little-known story of Leonard Cohen’s concert tour to the front lines of the Yom Kippur War, including never-before-seen selections from an unfinished manuscript by Cohen and rare photographs

In October 1973, the poet and singer Leonard Cohen—thirty-nine years old, famous, unhappy, and at a creative dead end—traveled from his home on the Greek island of Hydra to the chaos and bloodshed of the Sinai desert when Egypt attacked Israel on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur. Moving around the front with a guitar and a group of local musicians, Cohen met hundreds of young soldiers, men and women at the worst moment of their lives. Those who survived never forgot the experience. And the war transformed Cohen. He had announced that he was abandoning his music career, but he instead returned to Hydra and to his family, had a second child, and released one of the best albums of his career.

In Who by Fire, journalist Matti Friedman gives us a riveting account of those weeks in the Sinai, drawing on Cohen’s previously unpublished writing and original reporting to create a kaleidoscopic depiction of a harrowing, formative moment for both a young country at war and a singer at a crossroads.

Featuring a full-length rendition of the song “Who by Fire” performed by Leonard Cohen.

©2022 Matti Friedman (P)2022 Spiegel & Grau by OrangeSky Audio

Critic Reviews

"WHO BY FIRE is a stunning resurrection of a moment in the life of Leonard Cohen and the history of Israel. It’s the story of a young artist in crisis and a young country at war, and the powerful resonance of the chord struck between them. A beautiful, haunting book."—Nicole Krauss

"With remarkable insight, discipline, heart, scope, stunning reporting, and sometimes quite beautiful writing, Friedman has recreated those days of war and music, regeneration and humility, that freed Cohen to create some of his greatest works of art."—Mother Jones

"Compelling… [Friedman] beautifully ties together ideas about the author’s craft, identity, and connection to Israel…. A brief, audacious, thorough book turning … a dream world unconventionally and surprisingly real."—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

More from the same

What listeners say about Who by Fire

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    29
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A gem of a book

I heard about this book on Bari Weiss’s podcast, Honestly (April 6, 2022). Both podcast and book are well worth a listen, whether you’re a Leonard Cohan fan, interested in history, or just want to get away from the clickbait of current events. The narration is excellent (and I don’t always say that about a book read by the author!) My only complaint is that even while I admire the way Friedman balances all the elements in his narrative, the book felt too short; I needed to listen to it all over again, just to let the experience sink in

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Highly recommended

Wonderfully conceived, crafted, and delivered. An inspiring and moving reflection on a great artist and on a painful turning point in one nation’s history.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant account of Leonard Cohen's time at war.

Told mainly through Cohen's own words and interviews with fellow musicians and soldiers at the concerts, this is a brilliant gem of investigative reporting. An easy and fascinating read.