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Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal & American Foreign Policy Paperback – January 4, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hersh's investigation into Israel's nuclear capabilities sparked a series of controversies when it appeared in hardcover, and spent three weeks on PW 's bestseller list.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ever since the early 1950s, Israel has had one military eye firmly fixed on atomic weapons as a means of salvation, using them primarily as a military threat for both offensive and defensive purposes. Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner, expounds on the steady but quiet growth of an Israeli nuclear industry that proved so successful that Israel was able to coerce several U.S. administrations into doing its bidding. He also explores in depth Israeli access to U.S. intelligence satellite technologies that resulted from inattention by Washington leaders as well as from the four years of insider spying by Jonathan Jay Pollard. He reveals that the Soviet Union has been targeted by Israeli nuclear warheads since the mid-1980s. Unlike several other recent expos es of Israeli intelligence apparatus (Ian Black and Benny Morris's Israel's Secret Wars , LJ 8/91, and Andrew and Leslie Cockburn's Dangerous Liaison , LJ 6/15/91), Hersh follows the threads of a specific intelligence focus while highlighting U.S. policies that ultimately ignore the very real presence of the Israeli nuclear arsenal. This incredibly well-written book should be in every collection.
- David Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 4, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743316
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As is necessary for a subject as shrouded in secrecy, the author must do a considerable amount of detective work in order to arrive at a deep understanding. "The Samson Option" is exemplary in this style of book. Written like a detective story and with not a page lacking suspense, this book rivals any of the best Sherlock Holmes or the best modern-day thrillers. Yet, this is no fiction! It is apparent from the thorough notes that the author hasn't spared an ounce of meticulous research about such an important topic as nuclear weaponry. In it we learn about espionage tales, about cold war alliances, and about nuclear blackmail. Does Israel have nuclear weapons? If so how did they obtain them? What is the United States position on this, and why does it matter? Who funded the Israeli bomb? "The Samson Option" answers all these questions and many more, but in the process generates many more questions and mysteries that remain to be solved. Truly thought-provoking and enjoyable reading!
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Format: Paperback
This book proved to be very interesting when I started reading it.It gives you a very good inside look of how Israel was able to obtain the atomic.Seymour Hersh shows how Israel dealt with the United States,South Africa,and Iran to obtain the technology
and materials to become a nuclear power. You are shown the spy activities that were used by Israel to make this a sucessful effort.This book leaves little to the imagination.This is a good history of the nuclear movement in Israel.Read this book,you
will enjoy it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Samson Option" is a detailed investigation into how Israel acquired nuclear weapons technology and ultimately, nuclear weapons.
The Israeli partnership with the French and later on South Africa on development of those weapons are examined along with some of the scientists involved.

The Pollard spy case is the subject of one chapter in the book.

The relationship with Israel from an American foreign policy standpoint of administrations stretching from Eisenhower to Bush Sr. is examined. Not all U.S presidents had the same view of Israel's nuclear pursuit. None were willing to admit knowledge of the program or address it publicly. It was considered better to be insulated from the issue or at least ignorant of it.

The Israeli lobby and it's financial contributions to presidents from Truman on was discussed. LBJ was definitely not adverse to accepting private,personal cash contributions from anyone.

Mr. Hersh mentions a subject that very few authors or pundits will mention-the Israeli Air Force attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967.

Another interesting subject in "The Samson Option" is the people who privately financed the operation.
There is also a description of Israel's version of Los Alamos- they call it Dimona.

Seymour Hersh has provided yet another well-documented exercise in investigative journalism. The subject is one that is just as relevant to foreign policy today as it was when the author wrote this book. Whether you think Israel should have nuclear weapons or not, this book is THE BOOK to read on the subject!
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Format: Hardcover
There is no more timely topic in international nuclear proliferation today (May 2005) than the capability of North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and India to produce nuclear weapons. How did we get here? Seymour Hersh has written to blue print for how the nuclear powers - US, USSR, England, France and China - looked the other way while a nation "went nuclear". That nation was Israel. When Hersh published "The Samson Option" in 1991, he had tied together 30 years of speculation, leaked intelligence and flawed policy statements and positions into a cogent and understandable treatise on Israel's nuclear capabilities.

This book is also an eye-opener in how American presidents, from John Kennedy to George Herbert Walker Bush, decided to see only what they wanted to see with Israel's nuclear weaponization. The ultimate example of American politicians' hypocritical, double-dealing and deceitful treatment of Israel's capabilities resided in Lyndon Johnson. While assuring the US of doing everything to stop nuclear proliferation he was taking political donations and dispensing favors to the major Jewish supporters in the US of Israel's weapons facilities. The sad truth, is that like the Irish Republican Army, the greatest private donors to the development of Israel's nuclear bombs were private American citizens.

This book is as fresh and enlightening today as it was when first published in 1991. Find a copy and read it if you want to get an idea of how we may be dealing with India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea today.
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Format: Hardcover
This book tells how Israel became a secret nuclear power during the cold-war with the help of the U.S. "It also tells how that secret was shared sanction and at times, willfully ignored by the top political and military officials of the U.S since the Eisenhower years" (author's note). Hypocrisy aside, the author recalls the events that shaped the Israeli program, though he never strays far from U.S. interests and involvement. In his opinion, the Israli nuclear program could not have existed without the continuous aid of the U.S. He also pays attention to the political climate between the two allies, and how different presidents could effect the balance of information flowing between Israel and the U.S.
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