David Ben-Gurion

In losing Peres, a lesson in leadership

We stood in a hallway of a Tel Aviv hotel, and an official said, "He is coming now." I straightened up. From the middle of an approaching group stepped a gray-haired man with his hand extended. The president of Israel.

He smiled like a grandfather.

"But you are so young!" said Shimon Peres.

And I felt it. Chronologically, I was past 50, so Peres was just being kind. (He had read some books I'd written and thought I was older.) Nonetheless, I felt like a child because, within minutes of sitting down to lunch, I realized I was in the presence of not just a historical figure, but history itself.

We spent a small chunk of time together. He was...