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Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team Paperback – December 1, 2005
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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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After having watched the excellent movie by Stephen Spielberg which was based on this book ("Munich") I just had to read the book as well (hoping to get more background... Read morePublished 3 months ago by C. Mathieu
George Jonas was a successful writer and journalist who was presented by his publishers with the most intriguing of secret sources - the man behind the Israeli counter-terrorism... Read morePublished 3 months ago by keetmom
Reading it as we speak! Lived through it and remember it like it was yesterday! Very good book!Published 6 months ago by A Fan
This is a wonderful revelation of the execution of Israel's to neutralize the Black September terrorists after the Munich Olympics. Read morePublished 6 months ago by yuritx
I guess the leadership of the Israeli black ops is not as idealist as I imagined.Published 16 months ago by Julia Malakoff