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Raid on the Sun: Inside Israel's Secret Campaign that Denied Saddam the Bomb [Kindle Edition]

Rodger Claire
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The first authorized inside account of one of the most daring—and successful—military operations in recent history

From the earliest days of his dictatorship, Saddam Hussein had vowed to destroy Israel. So when France sold Iraq a top-of-the-line nuclear reactor in 1975, the Israelis were justifiably concerned—especially when they discovered that Iraqi scientists had already formulated a secret program to extract weapons-grade plutonium from the reactor, a first critical step in creating an atomic bomb. The reactor formed the heart of a huge nuclear plant situated twelve miles from Baghdad, 1,100 kilometers from Tel Aviv. By 1981, the reactor was on the verge of becoming “hot,” and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin knew he would have to confront its deadly potential. He turned to Israeli Air Force commander General David Ivry to secretly plan a daring surgical strike on the reactor—a never-before-contemplated mission that would prove to be one of the most remarkable military operations of all time.

Written with the full and exclusive cooperation of the Israeli Air Force high command, General Ivry (ret.), and all of the eight mission pilots (including Ilan Ramon, who become Israel’s first astronaut and perished tragically in the shuttle Columbia disaster), Raid on the Sun tells the extraordinary story of how Israel plotted the unthinkable: defying its U.S. and European allies to eliminate Iraq’s nuclear threat. In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, journalist Rodger Claire re-creates a gripping tale of personal sacrifice and survival, of young pilots who trained in the United States on the then-new, radically sophisticated F-16 fighter bombers, then faced a nearly insurmountable challenge: how to fly the 1,000-plus-kilometer mission to Baghdad and back on one tank of fuel. He recounts Israeli intelligence’s incredible “black ops” to sabotage construction on the French reactor and eliminate Iraqi nuclear scientists, and he gives the reader a pilot’s-eye view of the action on June 7, 1981, when the planes roared off a runway on the Sinai Peninsula for the first successful destruction of a nuclear reactor in history.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This gripping account of Operation Babylon, the Israelis' 1981 raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, is the first to draw on planners' and pilots' own memories. The raid was planned to follow a long campaign of espionage, sabotage and outright assassination by the Mossad, which had failed to prevent the French-built reactor from being about ready to produce weapons-grade plutonium in the summer of 1981. Then the Israeli air force, taking its new F-16s on their first combat mission and one far beyond their designed performance, struck, obliterating the reactor with no losses, few misses and only one civilian casualty. Tactics, technology and weapons are all presented in a clear manner that does not slow the pace. L.A.-based journalist Claire's group portrait of the eight superlatively skilled and trained pilots includes Zeev Raz, the squadron leader and now a general; the ace, Iftach Spector, who missed his target because he suffered a blackout induced by the flu; and Ilan Ramon, who became Israel's first astronaut and was lost on the Columbia.The final result reads like a techno-thriller that is difficult to put down once the mission gets airborne.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

From interviews the Israeli government allowed the author to conduct with the pilots who destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, journalist Claire dramatically reconstructs the origin and execution of the attack. Structurally splicing scenes of the pilots' preparations on the day of the attack with flashbacks to the espionage and intelligence activity that preceded it, Claire relates how carefully the Israelis watched the French sale and shipment of the reactor during the 1970s. Sabotage, most likely by the Israelis, failed to stop the project--obviously intended to produce plutonium for a nuclear bomb, not electricity, as Saddam Hussein proclaimed. Vowing never to allow a second Holocaust, Menachem Begin ordered the raid. The operation-- which is the heart of Claire's account-- faced an obstacle when it was determined that the distance to the target exceeded the range of the F-16 warplane. When that problem is ultimately solved, Claire proceeds to render the actual flight and attack in true pulse-pounding detail. An intense read that will carry military-affairs readers from cover to cover. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 676 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1G9M
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,252 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get a lot of the details right... January 17, 2006
By Fixer
When I saw Rodger Claire's Raid On The Sun I was excited to read it. As an F-16 pilot since the 80s, the raid on the Iraqi nuke plant had long been a subject of legend in the F-16 community and I was eager to get the real story and Mr. Claire had access to the pilots and senior leaders to get all the facts strait. It was a good read, and any fan of recent military history will enjoy it. I enjoyed getting filled in on the many details surrounding the establishment of Iraq's nuclear program, the planning involved in the raid, and of course the actual play-by-play of the mission itself.

However, I can't give it a high rating because of problems I had with Mr. Claire's details involving the F-16, which I obviously paid close attention to, and which were so often just plain wrong. They were all minor and wouldn't make a difference to the average reader, but to me they cast a shadow on the rest of the book. Things like "threw on the afterburners" (there's only one) the "thrusters" (nozzle?) hearing sounds of AAA and radio chatter of the gunners on the ground in their cockpit video recorders (what?!) saying the F-16 canopy is glass (it's plastic) "shoved the stick into afterburner" (the afterburner is controlled with the throttle) the reasons for flying in tactical formation (completely wrong), saying the HUD was newly-invented for the F-16 (not), American F-16s used "Stingers" (a surface to air missile) and so much more.... I kept thinking, if he can't get this easy stuff right, what about the important details? Why didn't the author have an actual F-16 pilot proofread his work before publication? Goodness knows there are enough of us out there and most would probably have done it for free!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tightly Written Tale With Relevant Overtones August 16, 2004
The precision of this operation's execution and the Israeli government's seemingly cavalier attitude in ordering such a strike have long interested me. Additionally, I'm a sucker for books showing how a seemingly flawless event was actually composed of missteps and near catastrophes which were overcome with hard work and strong leadership. Given all these qualities, it's no surprise that I had high hopes for Raid On The Sun. Fortunately, I was glad to find that the book met the expectations I had set for it.

Claire does an excellent job of laying out the reasons why the Israelis felt the need to perform this mission, the physical and tactical issues which made this attack almost impossible, the struggles to successfully complete it, and the operation's political ramifications. My only complaint is that the various elements don't get explored in more depth than what is presented. For instance, I would have preferred to have found out more about the reasons why some high ranking members of the Israeli military opposed the operation. While it didn't go into the all the depth I would have liked, Claire details the mission in an easy to read manner that more than adequately conveys its magnitude.

Given the current situation in Iraq, Raid On The Sun seems to be an exceptionally relevant book. But, regardless of whether or not one sees in this story an analogy with the current situation, Raid On The Sun is worth reading because it gives appropriate recognition to an extraordinarily dangerous military action.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story - Needs Technical and Professional Edit December 26, 2005
The good - A great story of politics, planning and airmanship. One can wonder where we would have been in 1991 had the raid not occurred. Claire does a good job of providing the background for the raid. Remarkably similar to what is happening today in Iran and North Korea.

The bad - Unforgivably poor editing, a little overdose of hero worship and a lot of technical stuff that appears questionable, as others have noted. Sadly most of these problems could have been eliminated through a review by a couple of individuals with knowledge of nuclear engineering and tactical flying. The dialogue between the pilots and their leaders seems a little overdone. It seems illogical that if the pilots are truly fuel critical as they came off the target that a few pages later they would be Mach 1+ across the desert given the rate at which an F-16 converts fuel into sound at sonic speeds. Perhaps there were some of the escorts, but the clarification needed to be made.

With the "bad" noted the book remains highly recommended . Perhaps the author will edit the next edition with a little greater care.

My guess is that some young pilots of several nationalities are looking at this book as the year 2006 begins, not for the thrills but to see if there are applicable lessons to be learned. Certainly the Iranians and N Koreans learned some critical lessons which lead them to build multiple facilities deep underground and as far inland as possible, while at the same time adding weapons designed to keep US carriers as far offshore as possible.

The book also serves as a reminder of the volatility of the world as more dictatorships , and perhaps non-national groups, obtain nuclear weapons, either through internal development or exchange with other rogue nations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful incredible story of courage and daring
Superb telling of Israel taking out Saddam's heavily fortified nuclear reactor in 1981 which saved the lives of thousands of American GI lives during Desert Storm. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jon Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars or just bad ass stories should read
Anyone interested in Israel, military strategy/planning, or just bad ass stories should read this
Published 3 months ago by Noah Negrin
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling.
A very quick read, well researched and hard to put down!
Published 4 months ago by Nick
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating look at the lengths used to prevent Iraq from becoming a...
I expected when I read this book that I was only going to get an account of the air strike that hit the reactor. I would have been pleased with that and that alone. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jonathan Mattson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best ever mission by Israel's defense services. Very well planned and executed.
Published 5 months ago by J Rodrigues
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
This a typical Israel secret operation, very good
Published 9 months ago by Armandop1
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All about the strike
Published 10 months ago by robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Most interesting read, the world would have been really different if this hadn't happened
Published 10 months ago by Thomas R Little
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Good
This is a good read, even 10 years later. I was interested in the background and development of the Iraqi's nuclear reactor and the Israeli's planning to destroy it. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Lawrence Harris
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