Paul Mendes-Flohr, a distinguished scholar of German-Jewish intellectual life, has written a scrupulously researched, perceptive biography of Buber that evinces an authoritative command of all the contexts through which Buber moved. Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent is perhaps less a biography than an intellectual history of Buber, although the essential facts of his life are duly reported ... [Buber] was an inspiring figure who in often poetic prose erected elegant bridges between Judaism and general philosophy and theology, but there were unbridgeable contradictions at the heart of his enterprise, as the subtitle of this fine biography suggests.
...engrossing ... Attentive to what he calls the 'autobiographical murmurs' in Buber’s writing, Mr. Mendes-Flohr lends narrative fullness to Buber’s two lives, one German, the other Israeli. He also proves a worthy heir to Kaufmann. Earlier biographies—notably those by Hans Kohn and Maurice Friedman—tended toward veneration. To put Buber into dialogue with a new generation of readers, Mr. Mendes-Flohr prefers a more critical and detached approach. Still, the reader of this book cannot help adopting the view of T.S. Eliot. After meeting Buber, the poet recalled 'the strong impression that I was in the company of a great man.'
Mendes-Flohr...showcases his expertise in this definitive but dense and jargon-filled biography ... While Mendes-Flohr’s telling of Buber’s life is comprehensive, his prose is often difficult to follow...and will be a barrier for any lay reader, even those with some familiarity with Buber’s thinking. While the detail will be intimidating to the nonacademic, Mendes-Flohr’s biography nicely maps out Buber’s legacy for researchers to ponder.