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A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195391824
ISBN-10: 0195391829
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Editorial Reviews


"A great introduction to Israeli counterterrorism."--Thomas E. Ricks, Foreign Policy

"Meticulously researched...a fascinating account of Israel's techniques for recruiting informants in hostile territory and its evolving efforts to make its interrogation practices conform to the strictures of international law."--Wall Street Journal

"An admirably even-handed book."--The Economist

"A definitive work on Israel's war against Palestinian terrorism. Packed with statistics and excellent documentation, it will certainly be an important reference for years to come."--Moment

"For a democracy, some ways of defeating terrorism can be a Pyrrhic victory. Byman shows us what Israel did against terrorists that failed, what worked, and what was counter-productive. We can learn from Israel's experience. We do not have to repeat their mistakes... if we know what they were."--Richard A. Clarke, author of Against All Enemies and Cyber War

"Daniel Byman has produced a vitally important, invaluable history and analysis of Israeli counterterrorism policy and practice. His research and judgments are balanced, nuanced, grounded in evidence and highly credible. He shatters the easy myths about Israeli brilliance and bungling against its terrorist adversaries and leads us to an understanding of why it remains so important for Israel to discover a path forward that will integrate its counterterrorism tactics into a wider strategy that can produce, as the author puts it, 'peace within its borders and with its neighbors.'" --Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens

"On a topic that excites great passion, Dan Byman has written a cool, lucid, and balanced work. This is, and for years to come will remain, the best book explaining the Israeli experience, its successes and its failures, to all democracies facing terrorist threats."--Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, SAIS, Johns Hopkins

"Israel has been fighting terrorism from its first days as a state more than six decades ago. In this first in-depth, comprehensive history and analysis of Israel's counter-terrorism strategy Dan Byman has done an extraordinary job of marshalling the facts and presenting a compelling critique. Anyone with an interest in combating the scourge of terrorism or understanding Israel's unique approach to the challenge will find this book an insightful, thought-provoking guide and a fascinating read."--Martin Indyk, Vice President and Director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel

"Byman has produced a meticulously researched and well-written book that both informs and engages the reader. The hope is that his painstaking and clear-eyed historical analysis of the theory and practice of Israeli counterterrorism, illuminating unnecessary setbacks as well as improbable successes, will help open space for a more efficacious and salutary integration of counterterrorism and policy."--Survival

"[A] comprehensive account of the effectiveness of Israel's counterterrorism campaigns since the country became independent.... This book is enriched by [Byman's] research visits to Israel and meetings with leading Israeli security officials cited throughout the volume." --ashington Times

"Recommended not only as an introductory text to readers new to the subject, but also as a reference book for experts. The quality of the research makes it a valuable research." --Army History

About the Author

Daniel Byman is Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He has served on the 9/11 Commission staff and as an analyst with the U.S. government.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195391829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195391824
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.4 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith A. Comess VINE VOICE on June 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Despite the narrow scope implied by the subtitle ("The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism"), Daniel Byman's "A High Price" defines a new benchmark in terms of presenting a lucid, objective, comprehensive, brilliantly analytical exposition of the terror and counter-terror campaign waged in the Middle East involving the State of Israel. Byman's history is organized in 4 sections: "The Early Years", "From Oslo Through the Second Intifada", "The Lebanese Hizballah", "Jewish Terrorism" and, "Findings and Conclusions". In my estimation, it is the best book on the subject amongst the dozens I've read, including the previous reference-standard, "Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services" by Ian Black and Benny Morris (1991). Any supporter or critic of Israel, its adversaries and, indeed of U.S. actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and now Libya (some of which mimic Israeli initiatives) would be well advised to read Byman's far-reaching analysis before rendering judgment.

Byman's recurring theme is that the components of the Israeli Intelligence Community, (Aman, the military intelligence of the IDF; Mossad, responsible for overseas intelligence work; Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service) are superb practitioners of tactics, but that overall strategy, as set by the Israeli Government, is essentially non-existent. In Byman's words, "In over sixty years of fighting terrorism Israel has at times empowered radicals at the expense of moderates, tarnished its diplomatic image, allowed terrorists to use propaganda to turn defeat into victory and otherwise failed at a strategic level. Such failures are in part due to the difficulty of the challenge Israel has faced and continues to face.
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Format: Hardcover
Daniel Byman has produced an unusually fine work, which is sure to elevate the reader's blood pressure-as it has mine.

The author ruthlessly, but fairly, lays bare the brutality and savagery of the Palestinians, Israelis and their respective allies in the region.

*A High Price* is far more than a compendium of Israel's counter-terrorism efforts. Byman breathes life into the principals by adding a very thoughtful social and political analysis of them.

Byman makes clear that the primary objective of the Israeli government is to protect its citizens. Virtually all of Israel's actions, whether ill-advised or not, follow from this duty.

The motivation of Palestinians is vastly different. Interestingly, Byman only addresses their goals briefly at two or three places in his book. The primary objective of the Palestinians is to wholly occupy what is now the state of Israel.

When Byman discusses the various political factions among Palestinians, it is reminiscent of the deadly rivalry between the SS and SA during the 1930s in Germany. The Palestinian objective is unchanged.

Byman does finally offer the reader-the obligatory and vague-hope for the region's future. However, he is a realist and acknowledges that the most Israel can achieve is to be less hated.

This conflict is a Tragedy which would mesmerize an audience in ancient Greece.
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Format: Hardcover
The reader reviews already listed are great and thorough, and I cannot add to them. I can just add a snippet on what I enjoyed, and a Table of Contents to give you a glimpse of how the book is organized.

Byman's book opens in 1954. Palestinians attack and kill a busload of Jewish Israeli vacationers at Scorpion's Pass. The killers escape. Some say that Israelis and Israel got what it deserves. The Israeli opposition leaders and others call for retaliation against the government that is shielding the Palestinian terrorists. The Labor ruling party worries about the consequences of any unilateral action. No retaliation occurs; more attacks happen. This was 1954, but it could be the scenario from the attacks over the next five decades.

Byman tells how the 1976 Entebbe raid provided the myth of Israeli brilliance and execution, and the mistakes reinforced the myth of Israeli bungling. Byman systematically cuts through all the myths to show the reality of Israel's successes and its failures, the brilliance, and the lack of a focused planned long term strategy. The land of milk and honey is a land of triumphs and errors and missed opportunities for propaganda and public relations.

The errors led to increased radicalization, hurt delicate alliances, and allowed the military and political leaderships to pursue opposite goals. I enjoyed his blunt analyses. He backs his opinions with solid political theory (such as Max Weber's "logic of responsibility") and he provides inside stories (for example, Sharon and Y.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Middle East conflict has always been a staple of nightly news, but leave it to the talking heads on TV to leave out the details of events to serve more airtime to faux celebrities. This book highlights interesting details that surrounds the issue of Israel's continued threatened existence and Palestine's morbid "resistance" against the "occupiers". Missed opportunities of lasting peace, assassinations, and foreign meddling of talks - it somehow makes me feel depressed after reading each chapter, it made me believe peace shall never be attained in Israel/Palestine in my lifetime or the next two generations.
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