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Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics…
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Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly…

by Aaron J. Klein

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There is a great story buried in this book, about Israel's response to the escalation of Palestinian terrorism in the 1970s, but the narrative structure defeats it: vignettes are not only told completely out of order, but the outcome of every episode is told before the details of the plot are revealed. For example, one chapter describes the Mossad's plans to covertly assassinate a high-level PLO terrorist in a European country; the dramatic tension of this mission is lessened by the chapter's title, which tells you that the plan will fail. This book is well worth reading for anyone interested in modern history of terrorism and special ops because it's full of relevant information gleaned directly from insiders. I'm just not sure why the author went out of his way to confuse the narrative. ( )
  EdKupfer | Apr 4, 2013 |
I picked this book up because I'd come across a similar title and was reading reviews and all of them pointed to this book as the one book on the Munich Olympic massacre that people should read. I'd watched the movie Munich and a few short documentaries on the massacre, but my knowledge of the events was limited to popular culture. But after reading Aaron Klein's book, I feel as though I've discovered the truth.

Striking Back was published in 2006, so Klein is able to look at the events from a post 9/11 point of view, which I found to be extremely important. He was given unprecedented access to materials that remained hidden from public view until he asked.

What makes this book so good is not just limited to Klein's access to documents and people. It's the way he gives us an inside look at everything. We're not just talking about the athletes -- their families, the Israel Olympic Committee, the Israeli government, Mossad, the German government, as well as the terrorists themselves. But even then, Klein takes us on another journal.

It would be all too easy to write a biased book, focused on just the events of Munich, glossing over blame and Israel's response through rose colored glasses. Klein does not fall into the trap. Not only does he leave no one untouched, he explains the failings of both countries and then goes on to talk about Israel's response. While Munich takes a fictional view of realistic events, Striking Back fills in all the holes. Klein writes of the assassinations -- of the guilty, the supposed guilty and the accidental assassination of innocents.

Klein's writing is strong, he doesn't cushion the truth nor shy away from it when it's less than flattering. I found it to be a chilly story, even moreso because in some ways this feels like the beginning of something we've become used to -- non-state sponsored terrorism ending in a war that no one can win ad that is still going on. ( )
  callmecayce | Dec 2, 2008 |
This book highlights the danger of releasing a security agency to kill those responsible for an attack. Without directly addressing the subject, it calls into question the idea of a "War against Terror." Once someone may be sentenced to death without the ability of a defense counsel or being able to face the accusers, political and personal witch hunting becomes a standard operating procedure and innocent people are killed for without improving national security . Unasked and unanswered is the question can a society governed by the rule of law defend itself from stateless aggression (i.e. terrorist)? ( )
  Charliemac | Dec 24, 2007 |
The first sign that this was going to be an irritating read was the profusion of short paragraphs used by the author. Sadly, this was not a style choice to hook the reader at the outset, but rather, continued throughout the book, disrupting its flow and making it feel like a magazine article.

The second red flag was the extremely strong language used about Germany's response to security at the Games and their aftermath. The author used words like 'negligent', without providing any reasoned argument to support such a position, and in the end came off as sounding biased.

Finally, for a book purporting to reveal inside secrets of the Mossad, the author does not list a single source in a bibliography. Not one. The author thanks certain individuals, but it's impossible to know what documentary sources he consulted for his historical research, or what new information he gleaned from recently released files.

While I have found some journalists to be great writers of history, this is not one of those authors. Avoid this book if you can, and save yourself the three hours of your life that you'll never get back again if you read it. ( )
  Meggo | Jun 29, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812974638, Paperback)

“This is a thriller, a page-turner, a probing look into the inner workings of the assassination squads that Israel mobilized after the Munich massacre.”
–David K. Shipler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Arab and Jew

“Gratitude is due to Mr. Klein for his painstaking . . . book, the best one could possibly hope for.”
–Walter Lacquer, The Wall Street Journal

Award-winning journalist Aaron J. Klein tells, for the first time, the complete story of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and the Israeli counterterrorism operation it spawned. With unprecedented access to Mossad agents and an unparalleled knowledge of Israeli intelligence, Klein peels back the layers of myth and misinformation that have permeated previous books, films, and magazine articles about the “shadow war” against Black September and other related terrorist groups. In this riveting account, long-held secrets are finally revealed, including who was killed and who was not, how it was done, which targets were hit and which were missed. In the end, Klein shows that the Israeli response to Munich was not simply about revenge, as is popularly believed. By illuminating the tactical and strategic purposes of the Israeli operation, Striking Back allows us to draw profoundly relevant lessons from one of the most important counterterrorism campaigns in history.

“[Klein] makes it clear why [the Munich attacks were] a pivotal event in the evolution of global terrorism.”
–Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A drama-filled look at the murders and Israeli reprisals.”
–Billy Heller, New York Post (“Required Reading”)

“A real thriller that will unnerve as much as it captivates.”
–Laurence Washington, Rocky Mountain News

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The first full account, based on access to key players who have never before spoken, of the Munich Massacre and the Israeli response--a lethal, top secret, thirty-year-long antiterrorism campaign to track down the killers.. As Palestinian members of the Black September group murder eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, millions watch the crisis unfold on television, witnessing a tragedy that inaugurates the modern age of terror. Back in Israel, Prime Minister Golda Meir vows to track down those responsible. A secret Mossad unit is mobilized, a list of targets drawn up. The Mossad has never spoken about this operation--until now. Journalist Klein's account tells the full story for the first time, peeling back the layers of myth and misinformation about the "shadow war" against terrorist groups, illuminating the tactical and strategic purposes of the Israeli operation, and showing that the Israeli response to Munich was not simply about revenge.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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