Author of over 80 different works, the Right Honorable Sir Martin Gilbert is best known in the Jewish world for his numerous volumes on Jewish history.

Born in London on October 25, 1936, Gilbert was one of thousands of children evacuated to Canada during the war. He returned to England in a transport arranged by Sir Winston Churchill, a fact that made Gilbert greatly admire Churchill and had a tremendous influence on his life.

After spending two years in Britain’s intelligence corps as part of his national service, Gilbert studied history at Oxford. He received his BA in 1960 and continued on as a research fellow. In 1962, he was chosen by Randolph Churchill to join the team working on the biography of his father, Winston. When Randolph Churchill passed away in 1968, with only two volumes published, it was decided that Gilbert would take over the project. Over the next 20 years, he wrote six more volumes to complete Churchill’s biography as well as several related volumes such as Churchill and the Jews.

At least 20 of Gilbert’s books have focused on Jewish life. Having visited concentration camps in the late 1950s, he felt it particularly important to record this history. In the 1980s, he took particular interest in the movement to free Soviet Jews. Throughout his life, he was an active member of the Jewish community and regularly attended Shabbat services.

Gilbert had an acclaimed career and was close with numerous national leaders, both in Britain and in Israel. In 1990, he was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and he was knighted, in 1995, for services to British history and international relations. In 2009, he was appointed a member of the Privy Council so that he could sit on the Chilcot Committee inquiring into the Iraq war.

Gilbert’s last book, In Ishmael’s House: A History of the Jews in Muslim Lands, was published in 2010. He passed away on February 3, 2015.

Copyright © 2017 NJOP. All rights reserved.