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One Day in September: The Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God"

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At 4:30 a.m. on September 5, 1972, a band of Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Summer Olympics in Munich. More than 900 million viewers followed the chilling, twenty-hour event on television, as German authorities desperately negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, late in the evening, two helicopters bore the terrorists and th At 4:30 a.m. on September 5, 1972, a band of Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Summer Olympics in Munich. More than 900 million viewers followed the chilling, twenty-hour event on television, as German authorities desperately negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, late in the evening, two helicopters bore the terrorists and their surviving hostages to Munichs little-used Fürstenfeldbruck airfield, where events went tragically awry. Within minutes all of the Israeli athletes, five of the terrorists, and one German policeman were dead. Why did the rescue mission fail so miserably? And why were the reports compiled by the German authorities concealed from the public for more than two decades? Reeves takes on a catastrophe that permanently shifted the political spectrum with a fast-paced narrative that covers the events detail by detail. Based on years of exhaustive research, One Day in September is the definitive account of one of the most devastating and politically explosive tragedies of the late twentieth century, one that set the tone for nearly thirty years of renewed conflict in the Middle East.


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At 4:30 a.m. on September 5, 1972, a band of Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Summer Olympics in Munich. More than 900 million viewers followed the chilling, twenty-hour event on television, as German authorities desperately negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, late in the evening, two helicopters bore the terrorists and th At 4:30 a.m. on September 5, 1972, a band of Palestinian terrorists took eleven Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Summer Olympics in Munich. More than 900 million viewers followed the chilling, twenty-hour event on television, as German authorities desperately negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, late in the evening, two helicopters bore the terrorists and their surviving hostages to Munichs little-used Fürstenfeldbruck airfield, where events went tragically awry. Within minutes all of the Israeli athletes, five of the terrorists, and one German policeman were dead. Why did the rescue mission fail so miserably? And why were the reports compiled by the German authorities concealed from the public for more than two decades? Reeves takes on a catastrophe that permanently shifted the political spectrum with a fast-paced narrative that covers the events detail by detail. Based on years of exhaustive research, One Day in September is the definitive account of one of the most devastating and politically explosive tragedies of the late twentieth century, one that set the tone for nearly thirty years of renewed conflict in the Middle East.

30 review for One Day in September: The Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God"

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I’ve had terrorism on my mind lately. Now, I know what you’re going to say. Thanks, Matt, for giving my day that little extra something. Why don’t you go ahead and pour hot coffee on my lap? It's a hell of a thought to start a new year. Still, I can’t help it. The bombing of Metrojet 9268. The Paris attacks. The San Bernardino massacre. Every month, it seems, someone is blowing up or shooting someone else for vague political goals. The list probably grew as I finished this sentence. It’s hard to I’ve had terrorism on my mind lately. Now, I know what you’re going to say. Thanks, Matt, for giving my day that little extra something. Why don’t you go ahead and pour hot coffee on my lap? It's a hell of a thought to start a new year. Still, I can’t help it. The bombing of Metrojet 9268. The Paris attacks. The San Bernardino massacre. Every month, it seems, someone is blowing up or shooting someone else for vague political goals. The list probably grew as I finished this sentence. It’s hard to ignore unless you make a concerted effort to avoid the news – which of course is one of life’s unremarked upon luxuries. I’ll be the first to admit that the things I don’t know about the current geopolitical climate in the Middle East could fill a stadium. I do know, however, that in seeking answers it always helps to start by looking in the rear-view. This is especially true in the Middle East, where history is not history; it is not even past. That’s why I picked up Simon Reeve’s One Day in September, which tells the story of the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. This is actually the second time I’ve read it, the first time being in 2005, around the time that Steven Spielberg released Munich. I decided on a reread because I didn't remember much of the book. Having finished, it became clear why I hadn’t remembered. This is a perfectly adequate book, but it doesn’t move an inch beyond that. The Munich Massacre is an intimate, human-scaled tragedy; despite this, I never connected to Reeve’s book on any level besides the purely informational. In roughly 250 briskly-paced pages, Reeve covers not only the terrorist event itself, but the controversial and shadowy aftermath. He begins with the initial takeover, when eight members of Black September, a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, scaled a fence and snuck into the Olympic Village. Two Israeli athletes died in this initial stage; nine more were taken hostage. After this account, Reeve briefly backtracks to give a history of the Black September organization, which helps place this event in a larger geopolitical context. (The organization was named for a September 1970 incident in which King Hussein of Jordan expelled thousands of Palestinians). Reeves then takes up the story in chronological fashion once again, detailing the hostage negotiations, the attempted rescue at Fürstenfeldbruck Airport (which resulted in 5 terrorists and all nine Israeli hostages being killed), and the Israeli responses in Operation Wrath of God (in which Mossad assassination squads killed people associated with the Munich attack) and Operation Spring of Youth (the 1973 attack on PLO targets in Beirut, carried out by cross-dressing members of the IDF). If there is a theme early in the book, it is of Germany’s utter mishandling of the Black September takeover. In an attempt to avoid looking like goose-stepping Nazis, security at the Olympics was pitiful. The Germans attempted a minimalist presence with walkie-talkie wielding police officers in non-threatening light-blue uniforms. The failures only grow longer, once we're beyond the nonexistent protection of the Olympic Village. When negotiations began, it was initially handled by an untrained officer who was basically freelancing. The German government refused Israeli help, despite the fact that they did not have an counterterrorist group capable of handling a military response. Furthermore, the German military was constitutionally prohibited from lending any assistance, while the setup of their Federal Republic meant that the incident was handled as a local, Bavarian affair. It was an epic cluster that - as is pointed out several times - once again ended with dead Jews outside Munich. The best section of One Day in September is Reeve’s handling of the rescue mission at Fürstenfeldbruck. He is unsparing in his criticism of German incompetence. First, as noted above, Germany did not have a dedicated counterterrorism force. (Germany’s GSG 9 was birthed by Ulrich Wegener, who saw firsthand the botched “rescue” at Fürstenfeldbruck). Instead, they plucked ordinary Munich policemen from the ranks to act as “snipers.” These riflemen were poorly positioned, they were too few in number (somehow, the men at the airport were not informed of the number of terrorists, despite the fact that German authorities flew the terrorists to the airport via helicopter), their rifles were inadequate, and they did not have radios. Reeves also demonstrates that German police officers stationed in a nearby 727 – which the terrorists thought would fly them to safety – abandoned their posts. Thus, a central pillar of the German police response collapsed just moments before the terrorists and their hostages arrived. One Day in September is at its liveliest when Reeves is trashing the inept German response, and brushing aside German excuses as “palpable nonsense.” The rest of the book, unfortunately, is not nearly so engaging. Reeves wrote this in conjunction with a very good documentary of the same name. At times, you can tell. Portions of One Day in September feel like nothing more than a transcription of the documentary. For instance, when Reeves is introducing some of the Israeli hostages, he tells the story of Andre and Ankie Spitzer. In the documentary, Ankie is interviewed about Andre, and says “Being the person that he was, it was hard not to fall in love with him.” This works in a documentary because there is music, there are images, and you can hear the catch in Ankie’s voice. In a book, though, this quotation comes off almost glib, a trite sophism. A book requires you to go deeper, but Reeves never bothers. You get only the barest idea of who the Israelis were. He does even worse with the terrorists, introducing their names only piecemeal throughout the narrative. The documentary is emotionally effecting. Not so the book. Another thing that really bothered me were the gaps in the story. A lot of people in this book remain shadows, even 44 years later. The German police snipers, for example, are presented as “Sniper 1,” “Sniper 2,” etc. When Mossad agents kill an innocent man in Norway, their names are not given either, despite the fact that several of them were tried and convicted in courts of law. Now, I’ve watched enough Homeland to understand that the world of terror and counter-terror are cloaked in mystery. Perhaps, even all these years later, some of these names are still being protected. But if that’s the case, then I need to know. Reeves needs to say that in the book. Or else I’m going to put the book down and start Googling. If I have to do that as a reader, then you’ve lost me. (Clearly, the Germans are very reticent in revealing what they know. New information is just now coming to light. In December 2015 the New York Times reported that one of the Israeli hostages had been castrated. This corroborates contemporary mutilation claims made by the families but denied by the authorities). One Day in September was published in 2000. Therefore, it is, in some ways, sadly out of date. There is a point in which Reeves calls the Munich Massacre the most visible terrorist attack in history. It has, unfortunately, been repeatedly usurped. Reeves obviously can’t be blamed for that. I did, however, expect more from him. In his book The New Jackals, Reeves made one of the most strident pre-9/11 warnings about the danger posed by Osama Bin Laden. It was a journalistic call to action. Obliviously, One Day in September is a different kind of book, a straight history rather than a Cassandra call. Still, it rates as a minor disappointment. As history, it is curiously hollow. The Munich Massacre is an unforgettable act; this is a rather forgettable account.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Kulhawy

    Very good read. Not only on the horrific moment by moment happenings that went on during the 1972 Munich Olympics, but the follow-up, retaliatory, assassinations by the "Wrath of God Hit Squads, as well. The author does a good job giving, not only, background information on both the Israeli and Palestinians, but brings the story forward to today, with interviews of the surviving relatives of both the murdered athletes, as well as the terrorists' families. Very good read. Not only on the horrific moment by moment happenings that went on during the 1972 Munich Olympics, but the follow-up, retaliatory, assassinations by the "Wrath of God Hit Squads, as well. The author does a good job giving, not only, background information on both the Israeli and Palestinians, but brings the story forward to today, with interviews of the surviving relatives of both the murdered athletes, as well as the terrorists' families.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Karen Mitchell

    Hmmm I had high hopes for this book. The heartbreaking story of the Israeli athletes competing under the Olympic ideal and losing their lives had intrigued me enough to buy this book. I found it interesting, but lacking in humanity and detail - it was very matter of fact, but lacking the factual depth I needed. Don't get me wrong, it's a well written and well researched book about the Munich situation, and it definitely gave me an insight into the Israel/Palestine conflict that I was lacking in b Hmmm I had high hopes for this book. The heartbreaking story of the Israeli athletes competing under the Olympic ideal and losing their lives had intrigued me enough to buy this book. I found it interesting, but lacking in humanity and detail - it was very matter of fact, but lacking the factual depth I needed. Don't get me wrong, it's a well written and well researched book about the Munich situation, and it definitely gave me an insight into the Israel/Palestine conflict that I was lacking in before, but it didn't grab me. It read more like a book of facts and information, although some may enjoy it's factual dealing with the situation. If you want to know more about what happened on that day in September, it is worth a read, but don't expect a human side to the story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Keen

    4.5 Stars! “The inescapable conclusion of this extensive 30 year cover up is that German officers were unprepared to risk their lives for a group of Jews, and that senior figures in successive German and Bavarian governments have been frightened to reveal the true story for fear that Germany would once again be accused of institutionalised anti-Semitism.” Black September traces its messy origins back to the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), naming itself after an ugly conflict with Jordan, 4.5 Stars! “The inescapable conclusion of this extensive 30 year cover up is that German officers were unprepared to risk their lives for a group of Jews, and that senior figures in successive German and Bavarian governments have been frightened to reveal the true story for fear that Germany would once again be accused of institutionalised anti-Semitism.” Black September traces its messy origins back to the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), naming itself after an ugly conflict with Jordan, that the Palestinians later described as a ‘black September’. This was initially a covert branch that could operate without the baggage or responsibility of the PLO, a concept not too far away from what Mossad is to the country of Israel, a scapegoat of sorts, that tries to feign independence and take responsibility and attention away from the real people making the decisions. Many people today will be totally unaware of the fear and terror that the PLO and the Black September movement held over so many people and nations throughout the 1970s. The hijacking of commercial airlines and other atrocious acts like political assassinations, and the murdering of innocent civilians in airports or other public places. Their brand of radicalism and terror was catnip for the media and ensured that they were never too far away from the headlines. Operation Iqrit and Biri’m, was the rather clunky name given to the planned action by the movement at the Munich Olympics. It all began at the heart of the Olympic village, where the first two victims met their death, but the real drama eventually played out away from the camera, when they all transferred to Furstenfeldbruck airport, where the terrorists tried to fly out of the country, but of course so much went so wrong for so many at the violent and tragic climax. We see that naivety, incompetence and recklessness played a huge part of both sides. Zvi Zamir, an Israeli expert on counter-terrorism, who was repeatedly ignored by the German authorities, claimed that, “The Germans were useless. Useless, all the way.” Not only were the initial attempts at raiding the complex to free the hostages beamed live to millions around the globe, but the terrorists were also watching it on their TV too. A situation so ludicrous you couldn’t make it up. As Reeve shows, this was only the start of the many disastrous calamities that were to mar this doomed rescue mission. Reeve builds the tension and anxiety nicely, weighing up various sides of the saga, like the war of words between the woefully incompetent Germans and then Israeli Prime Minster, Golda Meir, who proved to be stubbornly inflexible to the demands of the hostage takers. The extent of Reeve’s research is precise and detailed, he mixes the documentation of the massacre with a mix of first-hand accounts from the terrorists, the media, drawing from the likes of then ITN reporter Gerald Seymour and ABC news caster Peter Jennings, and even documents from the Stasi files, who were watching events unfold from close by. Not only did the Munich police and the Bavarian government believe that five snipers was enough to tackle eight heavily armed, trained terrorists, but they also sent their men out without walkie talkies, (even though the unarmed security guards at the event had been issued with them). They also had no bullet-proof vests or steel helmets, no telescopic sights or infra-red technology to see in the dark. There were also tactical mistakes to compound these failings. The Munich police were warned explicitly before the games that the Palestinians might be planning an attack on the Olympics, and yet the Germans still did nothing to increase security. It is astonishing to think that the terrorists were able to fly into a major city in a major western nation during the then biggest sporting event yet to have taken place and get away with carrying ten hand grenades in their hand luggage as well as other weapons. One of the most bizarre moments in this tragedy is when some random man falsely claims that all hostages had survived and had been rescued and the global media played their part in the lie by spreading it around the world and misinforming the victims' family and friends. Did no one in the media think that they should maybe check the validity of their sources?...And of course adding insult to injury to the families the inevitable cover up, denials, contradictions and lies began to emerge. Thankfully their ability to construct a plausible alternative version of events was as doomed and incompetent as their botched rescue mission. The second part of this book is dedicated to the aftermath and the escalation of terrorism that would spill out of the Middle East and rip across continental Europe killing many innocent men, women and children along the way. We also get to hear many of the details of Meir and Israel’s series of merciless revenge attacks. If sympathy was on their side after the Munich, then it wouldn’t be for so long after they got the taste for blood. Not only did they make a series of revenge attacks in Lebanon and Syria, killing many innocent men, women and children, but then they ramped up with Operation Wrath of God. This was a further campaign across Europe, targeting various Palestinians from Cyprus to Italy, and France to Norway and beyond, they used bombs and bullets to show how seriously they were taking matters. So the situation descended into outright warfare, and as ever in such cases the biggest group of people to suffer were totally innocent bystanders, as radicals on both sides grew more obsessed in exacting revenge after revenge, blind and hardened to the fact that they were only adding to and creating more misery. These were athletes who left 32 dependants behind, including 14 children and seven widows, so surely one of the most shocking facts concerning the aftermath and legacy of the massacre is the routine maltreatment and disrespect shown to the families of the victims. Not only did the committee at Vancouver games in 1976 refuse to acknowledge the terrorists attacks with a minute’s silence, but various Olympic committees would continue to do their best to ignore the tragedy altogether. The governments of Germany and Israel were equally if not more contemptuous towards the victims and their appeals for acknowledgement. Of course Israel’s suspicious reluctance to get involved in pressing the German government for more details rightly raised many questions and suspicions of possible backroom deals for Israel to keep quiet and some believed that maybe the Germans had rewarded Israel for its silence?... “The men died in Germany a second time, when we tried to find out the truth.” said Ankie Spitzer, the widow of one of the victims. Of course the quickest and easiest way to make an unimaginably painful event even worse is to lie and deceive people about the true events, and the Germans made a long and sustained effort to do just that. It took twenty years and a TV interview played to millions of Germans in 1992 before a sympathetic source got in contact with one of the widows. After denying/lying about having any more information, the truth was they had been hiding more than 4’000 documents, reports and files relating to the Munich massacre. It was an immense government lie and cover up. Other horrors soon leaked out, such as the strong possibility that the Germans may well have killed some of the Israelis, during the chaotic and fatal shootout. So this was a fascinating, horrific, sad and yet hugely compelling piece of writing. Reeve not only gives us a satisfying overview into the historical background of a horrendously complex and messy conflict, but he also does a sound job of bringing the human cost to the fore, with the many accounts from the victim’s families. The accounts from those who were there also adds gravity and credit to the book, making this essential reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sallie Dunn

    This book is a bit dated, but it is still good overall as it gives the background and history of the world’s first international, televised while it was happening, terrorism attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. It definitely brought attention to the plight of the Palestinians who have forced from their homes when Israel declared itself a sovereign state in 1948. It is hard to understand why people can’t just seem to get along and live side by side. It is also hard to understand why This book is a bit dated, but it is still good overall as it gives the background and history of the world’s first international, televised while it was happening, terrorism attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. It definitely brought attention to the plight of the Palestinians who have forced from their homes when Israel declared itself a sovereign state in 1948. It is hard to understand why people can’t just seem to get along and live side by side. It is also hard to understand why these terrorists chose some relatively unknown athletes as their targets. They were totally innocent of any political shenanigans and died needlessly. This book also describes in great detail how thoroughly the Germans botched the safety and rescue of the kidnapped hostages. The best part of this book is the Epilogue, written in 2005. The author does a good job of covering subsequent terror events up til then, especially 9/11. And makes a case that I agree with: that retaliatory assassinations are never going to solve the current world problems. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars. (Some of the material covered is a bit dry.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael Gerald

    For people who were mature enough to understand it at the time, the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 were THE ones that defined terrorism and will forever be etched in our memories. But for an earlier generation, the most infamous terrorist attack was the one struck at the Israeli delegation to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, in what was then West Germany. "One Day in September" is a book that will grip the reader as it recalls the events of that infamous day in 1972, when Pale For people who were mature enough to understand it at the time, the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 were THE ones that defined terrorism and will forever be etched in our memories. But for an earlier generation, the most infamous terrorist attack was the one struck at the Israeli delegation to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, in what was then West Germany. "One Day in September" is a book that will grip the reader as it recalls the events of that infamous day in 1972, when Palestinian militants of the Black September group took Israeli athletes participating in the Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany as hostages, only for all the hostages and five of the eight Palestinian terrorists killed in an incompetent, chaotic, and disastrous rescue attempt by the German government. The book is divided into two parts: the first covers the attack on the Israeli quarters at the Olympic Village in the early hours of September 5, the murder of two Israeli athletes who tried to resist, the taking of the remaining nine as hostages, the attempted negotiations with the German authorities, the helicopter flight to an airfield near Munich, and the disastrous rescue operation that ensued. A total of eleven Israeli athletes, five terrorists, and one German policemen were killed in the gunfire and conflagration. The second part of the book is about the retaliation by Israel on the members and leaders of Black September years after the massacre. The Israeli government certainly practiced a punitive "eye for an eye" attitude towards the three terrorists who were eventually able to escape from Munich and the others who the Israelis thought were also responsible for the massacre. But not all the Israelis killed were guilty. In Norway, the Israeli hit squad that was supposed to take down one of the leaders of Black September turned out to be an innocent waiter. And one of the terrorists managed to elude Israeli eyes. Perhaps blinded by wrath for the terrorists they held responsible for Munich, the Israelis also committed mistakes that claimed an innocent life. "One Day in September" is one great read and, with its comprehensiveness, is probably the best book about the subject so far.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lola

    Threw this book at the wall a few times out of anger! The ineptitude of the Germans and the heartbreak of the Israelis was killing me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ben Summerour

    An absolutely spectacular account of journalism that covers the 1972 Munich Olympic hostage situation with such a keen eye towards all things that went wrong and how they could have changed to make the outcome of the crisis come out with everyone alive. In the end, it's a fascinating read and certainly worth the time. An absolutely spectacular account of journalism that covers the 1972 Munich Olympic hostage situation with such a keen eye towards all things that went wrong and how they could have changed to make the outcome of the crisis come out with everyone alive. In the end, it's a fascinating read and certainly worth the time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sage

    That was intense. An interesting book, very well researched and quite balanced argument with all those concerned. The writing style was quite engaging and well paced, given the subject matter. I'll never look at the middle eat conflict (or Germany) the same away again, and not sure how I feel about that. A worthwhile read then for sure, but clearly not a comfortable easy page turner. That was intense. An interesting book, very well researched and quite balanced argument with all those concerned. The writing style was quite engaging and well paced, given the subject matter. I'll never look at the middle eat conflict (or Germany) the same away again, and not sure how I feel about that. A worthwhile read then for sure, but clearly not a comfortable easy page turner.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This book has the most detailed research I've ever seen. No details were left untouched.Made me feel a part of the action physically and emotionally. Well written. To bad it's true. This book has the most detailed research I've ever seen. No details were left untouched.Made me feel a part of the action physically and emotionally. Well written. To bad it's true.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pirate

    Wanted to read this for ages as the images of the 1972 Games left a mark on me as a young boy with the creepy hooded terrorist on the balcony especially staying in my mind. It only took me over a decade to finally do so.....plus ca change....well worth the ahem tardiness...engrossing and enthralling -- perhaps the same thing oh well what the heck -- and extremely moving account of the darkest moment in the Olympics history.....not many are spared from criticism and rightly so for the murders of Wanted to read this for ages as the images of the 1972 Games left a mark on me as a young boy with the creepy hooded terrorist on the balcony especially staying in my mind. It only took me over a decade to finally do so.....plus ca change....well worth the ahem tardiness...engrossing and enthralling -- perhaps the same thing oh well what the heck -- and extremely moving account of the darkest moment in the Olympics history.....not many are spared from criticism and rightly so for the murders of the Israeli athletes...the Germans for their cack-handed efforts firstly at mediation then the attempted rescues, firstly in the Village called off when they realised their every move was going out livve on TV and then at the airport and the IOC whose appalling president Avery Brundage lived down to his already dreadful reputation with a callous disregard for the hostages. His successor the Irish peer Lord Killanin comes out best of the IOC for at least showing compassion and humanity. I learned new things too firstly the sick man who donned in a Games organisers uniform announced at the airport they had been rescued and were all safe and also that the Israelis largely successful, innovative and brutal attempts to avenge the murders went awry with the murder of a wholly innocent Moroccan man in Norway. The saving grace of such murderous mayhem, callousness and passing the buck is the dignity of the hostages families especially Ankie Spitzer, a remarkable lady. There is a message of hope at the end with Schlomit Romano the daughter of Yossef one of the murdered hostages wishing to meet the daugher of Jamal al Gashey, the one hostage taker who survived both the shootout and the subsequent revenge missions. Her good will extends only so far, though: "But for her father I'm not going to forgive...Never."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Extremely well researched, balanced and engaging. Also contains an excellent synopsis of the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for the somewhat unintiated reader, as I was. That was appreciated and provided excellent context. As an 11 year old boy i was riveted to the televised drama that unfolded due to the attack at Munich in 1972. It really was a watershed moment in my life; it perhaps was the first time in my rather insulated experience as a boy in suburbia U.S.A. that I was shocke Extremely well researched, balanced and engaging. Also contains an excellent synopsis of the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for the somewhat unintiated reader, as I was. That was appreciated and provided excellent context. As an 11 year old boy i was riveted to the televised drama that unfolded due to the attack at Munich in 1972. It really was a watershed moment in my life; it perhaps was the first time in my rather insulated experience as a boy in suburbia U.S.A. that I was shocked into the understanding that in the real, big world out there, horrible things occur and humanity is capable of evil. Something beautiful can end in horror. While reading of the culmination of the seige that unfolded at the airport, my heartrate increased. The effect of that day is still there. Its unfathomable to attempt to understand what it must have been like for those close to the tragedy and what they still cope with today. I found myself ruminating during the book about the senselessness of the entire conflict. So it was effective and hopeful that the writer ended the book with some uplifting thoughts from the families on the potential for peace and a better way. The book does lose some momentum about two thirds of the way into the text when detailing the endless terrorist and assassination events in the years after Munich. But then again the authors' point in that phase of the book may have been to illuminate the endlessness and futility of the violence...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    This is harrowing stuff. Reeve describes the Black September attack on Israeli athletes at the '72 Olympics, in graphic but never lurid detail. The hideously botched rescue attempt and its firestorm of death is heartbreaking, never more so than when word somehow got out -- and was proclaimed to those athletes' families -- that all had survived (when none of them had). One real strength of this book is Reeve's evenhanded approach: this attack was horrific, but also horrific were the conditions of This is harrowing stuff. Reeve describes the Black September attack on Israeli athletes at the '72 Olympics, in graphic but never lurid detail. The hideously botched rescue attempt and its firestorm of death is heartbreaking, never more so than when word somehow got out -- and was proclaimed to those athletes' families -- that all had survived (when none of them had). One real strength of this book is Reeve's evenhanded approach: this attack was horrific, but also horrific were the conditions of Palestinians. This is no cheap "what-aboutism" equating one with the other, but a true attempt at providing clarity. And isn't that the fruit of nonfiction, to give the reader as clear a picture of reality as possible, however mired it is in brutality, hope, righteousness, and rage? I was 14 years old when this happened, and remember seeing the haunting footage. It's almost unbelievable to compare today's terrorism with that of the 70s, the seemingly slack border regulations, the ease with which weapons were transported, the heyday of highjacking. (One similarity: then as now, this nightmare was broadcast live -- so "live" that one rescue plan had to be aborted because the kidnappers themselves watched snipers getting into position from the television inside their quarters.) No country emerges from this unscathed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan Witte

    Expertly researched and reported, this book chronicles the shameful disaster of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Palestinians conducted a massacre of Israeli athletes, host country Germany tried to cover up its disastrous response, and Israel embarked on a murderous revenge campaign. I was 12 years old when this happened, and naturally had some level of awareness of the events at the time, but reading this now was riveting and illuminating, not to mention horrifying. I don’t know the rest of Simo Expertly researched and reported, this book chronicles the shameful disaster of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Palestinians conducted a massacre of Israeli athletes, host country Germany tried to cover up its disastrous response, and Israel embarked on a murderous revenge campaign. I was 12 years old when this happened, and naturally had some level of awareness of the events at the time, but reading this now was riveting and illuminating, not to mention horrifying. I don’t know the rest of Simon Reeve’s work, but this is inspired and inspiring journalism, about an event that history must never forget. Sadly, the book reveals how it is already being forgotten, or denied, and to me, that’s the importance of reading it. It also doesn’t hurt that it reads like a thriller that hits the ground running.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steve Angelkov

    Very detailed account of the Israeli Olympian hostage taking and massacre at the Munich 1972 Olympics. I'm embarrassed to say that I knew very little about this historical event (in the year I was born). The writing style is akin to a thriller, constructed with constant references to sources, which puts the reader at the heart of this fascinating story. From the botched works of the German authorities, the retribution of Operations Wrath of God and Spring of Youth and the heartbreaking prolonged Very detailed account of the Israeli Olympian hostage taking and massacre at the Munich 1972 Olympics. I'm embarrassed to say that I knew very little about this historical event (in the year I was born). The writing style is akin to a thriller, constructed with constant references to sources, which puts the reader at the heart of this fascinating story. From the botched works of the German authorities, the retribution of Operations Wrath of God and Spring of Youth and the heartbreaking prolonged fight across three decades for truth by the victims families. A fascinating account of this important historical event, told in a neutral standpoint. Excellent.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Pretty good straight forward look at the hostage taking of the Israeli athlete’s during the 1972 Munich Olympics by Black September. The horrendous response and cover up of the negotiations and rescue by the German authorities. Lastly the revenge operation taken by the Israeli’s to kill the surviving terrorists and the members of Black September who plotted and supported the plot.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dipra Lahiri

    Cracking read, with the pace of a thriller. The chapter on the Israel Palestine conflict is succinct and comprehensive. The human element in the midst of all the carnage makes this book stand apart from a dry historical account.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    I was a kid in the 70s and I had no clue this kind of craziness was going on in the world. A plane was hijacked every damn week! This story is a meticulously factual account of the events that occurred at the Munich olympics in 1972, and the aftermath. Digs deep into the Germans hand in the tragedy, as well as the Israeli’s revenge. This is billed as the most successful hostage taking mission ever conducted; it brought the Palestinians and their plight into the mainstream, and ruined the Olympic I was a kid in the 70s and I had no clue this kind of craziness was going on in the world. A plane was hijacked every damn week! This story is a meticulously factual account of the events that occurred at the Munich olympics in 1972, and the aftermath. Digs deep into the Germans hand in the tragedy, as well as the Israeli’s revenge. This is billed as the most successful hostage taking mission ever conducted; it brought the Palestinians and their plight into the mainstream, and ruined the Olympic Dream.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Wai Zin

    I have high hope for this book. But I'm disappointed. The beginning of the book is very interesting, (taking Israeli athletes hostages, negotiations, rescue attempt at airport ) it got me hooked. But the later part seemed hollow and lack insights. I won't read it again. I have high hope for this book. But I'm disappointed. The beginning of the book is very interesting, (taking Israeli athletes hostages, negotiations, rescue attempt at airport ) it got me hooked. But the later part seemed hollow and lack insights. I won't read it again.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    Excellent and fascinating book on a terrible, yet also fascinating tragedy that occurred during the 1972 Olympics. Well researched and written, and a book that needs to be read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Enlightening and frightening. I wish there was an updated version to see where the story has evolved since the initial publication.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    A remarkable story that needs to be remembered.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate Smith

    Absolutely mind blowing read and very thought provoking.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Debra N

    I knew very little about what happened at the Munich Olympics in 1972. This book is an eye opener as to what happened and what went wrong in the rescue plan.

  25. 4 out of 5

    William

    Superb book. Detailed, informative and balanced. Well worth the time to read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul Winston

    An interesting read that gives fact on the Munich Olympic massacre. Then the revenge taken by Mosad.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rob Cohen

    An important book, very upsetting, sometimes nightmarish, and altogether an impressive account of the horrors of the hostage situation and the geopolitical impact.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Well researched and well written. I wanted more detail about the actual Munich events, but there was much information before and after that day that I didn’t know.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marco Morano

    On September 5th, 1972, a group of Arab terrorists sneaked into Munich's Olympic Village and took Israelisi athletes hostage in order to free Arab prisoners. Simon Reeve recounts the disaster that was the Munich Olympics Massacre, and the effects it had on the Israel/Palestine conflict. I really appreciated this book. A little while back I read another book that covers the Israel/Palestine conflict which I didn't enjoy, and I found this one better. The author gives a detailed timeline of the host On September 5th, 1972, a group of Arab terrorists sneaked into Munich's Olympic Village and took Israelisi athletes hostage in order to free Arab prisoners. Simon Reeve recounts the disaster that was the Munich Olympics Massacre, and the effects it had on the Israel/Palestine conflict. I really appreciated this book. A little while back I read another book that covers the Israel/Palestine conflict which I didn't enjoy, and I found this one better. The author gives a detailed timeline of the hostage situation which gives a lot of context. Not only that, but he goes over the Israel's questionable response to the massacre which was fascinating to learn about. This does make the writing a bit dry however, though I didn't mind since I came here for the facts. The writing does get better during the second half of the book, since the author starts to go into his own opinions how Germany failed

  30. 4 out of 5

    Riley Feldmann

    While the conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinians continues to jaunt forward in a stop-start motion, it can appear to be a fight that has dragged on for ages. And, in a sense, that is the truth reaching back centuries when the various Abrahamic contested control over the holy sites situated in the Fertile Crescent. Ever since the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 and the subsequent evictions of the Arabs living within its boundaries, this war has played out on a more g While the conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinians continues to jaunt forward in a stop-start motion, it can appear to be a fight that has dragged on for ages. And, in a sense, that is the truth reaching back centuries when the various Abrahamic contested control over the holy sites situated in the Fertile Crescent. Ever since the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 and the subsequent evictions of the Arabs living within its boundaries, this war has played out on a more global scale with the backdrop of the Cold War, continuing Jewish-Arab conflict, and the development of modern terrorism. In the 1960's and 70's, however, the fight found itself being played out in locations spanning the globe and not simply within Israel. The foundation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the extremist militant group the Black September Organization (BSO) marked a shifting of strategy of aspirant Palestinians. Instead of conventional warfare, a dual political-insurgent set of tactics would bring a spotlight on their cause and mount pressure on the Israeli government. What better event to publicize such a cause than the 1972 Olympics being held in München, Germany? On a fateful September day in the midst of the Games, eight BSO operatives would enter the Olympic Village to take hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team in a bid to gain freedom for jailed Palestinian terrorists and to bring notoriety to the Arab cause. In One Day in September, author Simon Reeve dedicates himself to the careful piece-by-piece recreation of the events of September 5th, 1972, as the German authorities desperately tried to come up with a solution to the threat, their spectacular failure resulting in the deaths of all hostages, and the shockwaves thereafter. The Good Reeve does an excellent job of pacing throughout the piece balancing the breakdown of minute-by-minute updates of the situation in Munich while providing a thorough breakdown of the origins of each actor within the story. For one who is just beginning to grasp the intricacies of each side within the Israeli-Palestinian row, getting a slight introduction to each party helped facilitate a better understanding. Not only is the background fantastic, but Reeve also constructs a narrative that feels much like any piece of solid fiction writing. Details of the situation abound, and give the reader a sense of being part of the masses of Germans who watched the drama unfold live just yards away from 31 Connoleystrasse. The final point of positive note is how concise the account is in every way. Clocking in at a quick 254 pages, it was a pleasant departure from the 600-700 page behemoths I've been used to reading for the past few months, and could conceivably be an enjoyable read for any student of history over a relaxed weekend. The Bad Really, there wasn't much to complain about in ODIS. Perhaps the alleged cover-up of the events on the part of the West German government is a bit belabored for the final 30 pages, and in its conciseness, readers only get any depth of character regarding a select few members of the hostages, terrorists, and would-be rescuers on all sides. Also, perhaps the supposed reconciliation of all involved by the end of the book in an attempt at a "storybook" ending is laid upon a bit thick, but isn't surprising given the circumstances of the book's publishing in the midst of major attempts at a Middle East peace process. Overall, the fact that I blew through this in a mere day should indicate all of the chops that made ODIS a pleasure to read, and should be a fantastic jumping off point for other readers with an event that captured the globe's attention amidst chaos in the Middle East and beyond.

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