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Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team Paperback – December 1, 2005

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About the Author

George Jonas was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1935. Following the Hungarian uprising of 1956, he emigrated to Canada. In addition to fourteen books, three of which have become national and international bestsellers, Jonas has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Sun-Times, and other publications. In 1978, he won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best True Crime.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (December 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743291646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743291644
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 88 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Devlin on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. It was well paced throughout. After reading quite a few "non-fiction" spy books, to me Vengeance has the ring of truth to it, reminding me more of the Falcon and the Snowman than Vise's The Bureau and the Mole.

I had the luxury of reading Vengeance when it first came out, and reread it after viewing the movie Munich, of which this book was the primary source.

Our "hero" Anver, was a Mossad agent who was asked to leave the agency by Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel, to lead a team of men. This team was to attempt to take the lives of 11 men who were responsible for the Black September terrorist group's act of killing Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

The book follows the freelance team during their strong, early times, and their weak moments, both personal and professional. We meet not only the team, but also their sources, who are also personalized.

Although the author had to rely on a single source for some sections of the book, he is honest about this. When there are questions about his interpretation, he explains the different theories in the footnotes.

I bumped my review from 4 stars to 5 because of the "Notes on a Controversy" and footnotes that follow the main text in this volume. Questions raised about the author's perspective and sources are answered well in these two sections. I found Jonas to be honest about relying on his source. He also debates articles that attacked his book with his perspective without name calling.
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159 of 180 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that leaves you wondering, on several levels, about its contents. I don't think this is bad: actually, since it gets you thinking about the issues involved, I think it's a good thing. Vengeance purports to recount the efforts of a group of Israelis sent by the Mossad to Europe to kill various PLO figures who had aided, supported, planned, or otherwise enabled the 1972 Munich massacre of the Israeli Olympic team. The whole book apparently, at the time, raised a considerable controversy: many of the events in the story are uncorroborated, and of course this would lead to some readers being skeptical.

On the other hand, this book represents the sort of thing you'd expect would happen. We know the Israelis at least tried such operations: the killing of a Morrocan waiter in Lillehammer Norway was certainly an attempt to kill one of the PLO's top guys, and some of the supporting Mossad operatives were caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to jail for their part in the plot. The whole thing sounds believable, down to the team having specialists for various aspects of operations in Europe, to their using small pistols because of the lack of loud noise (.22s with reduced powder for even less noise), the bombs that don't work exactly as planned, and the lack of exact information as to who was behind the retaliation once it began.

This book reads as a spy novel, and perhaps should be read at least partially as if it is one. After all, does anyone think that the writings of John Le Carre are completely fictional. He was, for a short time anyway, in the intelligence community, as were Graham Greene and Frederick Forsyth. You have to think that those authors include things from their own experience, and from the experiences of acquaintances, in their writings.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By P. Willson on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Glad it's being re-printed. I read the hard-cover original book about 7-8 months ago, and it was an enthralling, yet disturbing and ultimately very sad story -- a book I didn't want to put down. Being re-released due to Spielberg's movie "Munich" - try to read the book first.

While presenting the intrigue and excitement of a good espionage thriller, it simultaneously chronicles the growing personal and ethical conflicts of the young Israeli Mossad agent chosen to lead a Kidon squad sent to hunt down and assassinate the Black September terrorist masterminds behind the 1972 Munich Olympics murders of 11 Israeli athletes.

In hindsight, and by comparison with other,later semi-official accounts, there are some careful but obvious fabrications to protect the way Mossad actually operated in Europe - but the bulk of the story appears to be pretty accurate, and you will easily recognize the real episodes that emerged in fictionalized form in novels by Daniel Silva, Steven Hartov, and others.

There is an abstractness and detached matter-of-factness about "Vengeance" that I suspect reflects the lead character's subsequent emotional dissociation - but that aloof coolness permeates the whole enterprise. The assassin 'officially' can not be an agent of Israel or Mossad and thus is immediately isolated from his support system and from any idealistic moral compass that persuaded him to take the job. We watch his dawning cynicism, grief, and guilt - but not remorse - as he realizes how equally expendable he is to his handlers, and in the end, he and his team are as hunted as their targets had been.

The book sticks with you afterwards -- I have found myself wondering how the lead character in this story has fared over the years - I hope he found some degree of safety and peace.
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