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Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations

by Ronen Bergman

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Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations
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Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman

The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF’s targeted killing programs, from the man hailed by David Remnick as “arguably [Israel’s] best investigative reporter”

The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively. In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs—their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.

Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country’s military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world’s most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a “Mossad within the Mossad” that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism).

Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel’s most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel’s targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.

“This is an astonishing book on targeted assassination in the name of the state. Tremendous reporting and writing make Rise and Kill First the definitive work on a secret and ceaseless war.”—Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

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Product Details
ISBN-13:
9781400069712
9781400069712
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/30/2018
Pages:
784
784
Sales rank:
106,444
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.84(d)
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About the Author

About the Author

Ronen Bergman is the senior correspondent for military and intelligence affairs for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest daily paid newspaper, and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, where he reports on intelligence, national security, terrorism, and nuclear issues. Bergman is the author of five bestselling Hebrew-language nonfiction books and The Secret War with Iran, which was published in the United States by Free Press. Bergman is the recipient of the Sokolow Prize, Israel’s most esteemed award for journalism, and the B’nai B’rith International Press Award, among other honors. A member of the Israeli bar, he graduated with honors from the University of Haifa Faculty of Law and clerked in the attorney general’s office. A winner of a Chevening Scholarship from the British Foreign Office, he received a master’s in international relations from Cambridge University, where he was also awarded his PhD in history.
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Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Advance praise for Rise and Kill First

“Rise and Kill First is hands down the best book I’ve read on intelligence, Israel, and, for that matter, the Middle East. I lived many of the events Ronen Bergman recounts from the inside, but only now do I have a full picture of what really went on. Impeccably sourced and astoundingly well reported, this page-turning book is indispensable for understanding Israel’s fight for survival, with a revelation on every page.”—Robert Baer, author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism

“This is an astonishing book on targeted assassination in the name of the state. Tremendous reporting and writing make Rise and Kill First the definitive work on a secret and ceaseless war.”—Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

“Absolutely revelatory, Bergman’s history of Israel’s targeted killings leaves few secrets in the closet. Reading this book is like devouring a John le Carré spy thriller with endnotes, but Bergman also grapples with the hard questions and ultimately writes a tragic story of endless tactical victories leading to a strategic dead end. Anyone who cares about the fate of Israel and Palestine must devour this formidable history.”—Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames and director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY Graduate Center

“Rise and Kill First is the most impressive book I have seen on the subject and the first one written using real research rather than a fictional narrative. At its center is the inevitable clash between the right of a democracy to defend itself—the measures we’ve been obliged to take in order to protect citizens of the State of Israel—and other values and rights. Bergman’s ability to reach sources inside Western intelligence communities is amazing (and, I must say, also a little disturbing). With so many different participants in the events recounted here, there’s always the danger of having a Rashomon effect—each individual having his own distinct point of view—but Bergman has done some impressive reporting and cross-checking to re-create these secret historical events in the best possible way.”—Tamir Pardo, chief of the Mossad, 2011–2016

“A real-life thriller . . . In a confident and eloquent voice, Ronen Bergman gives the reader a glance through veils of secrecy into the world of international clandestine operations, where Israel has to fight for its survival, making tough choices and following through on them with decisive and sometimes deadly action.”—Ehud Barak, former prime minister, defense minister, and chief of staff of Israel

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    Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations
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    Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations
    Pub. Date: 01/30/2018
    Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
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