Sunday, January 17, 2016

“Operation Thunderbolt” by Saul David - The Military Solution

Operation Thunderbolt by Saul David (Book cover)
While on one hand the invention of planes opened the doors for quick worldwide travel, as it happens, they also became a new (seemingly popular) target for terrorists who are looking to take some people hostage.

Many airplane-related tragedies have occurred in the past decades, yet there are few that can compare to what happened in 1976 when Flight 139 from Tel-Aviv to Paris was taken hostage by German and Arab terrorists, demanding the release of many others. The plane was diverted to Entebbe airport, under the rule of Idi Amin who had exactly zero interest in getting involved.

In Operation Thunderbolt, historian Saul David recounts the whole affair from beginning to end. We get to see what it was like on board of that plane, how the information of its capture travelled around the world, what the hostages thought and felt the whole time, how they were treated, what was happening in the heads of the terrorists, what the Israeli government was trying to accomplish the whole time... you pretty much get the whole story from A to Z.

Now of course, there comes the question as why one ought to bother with this book when so much information is already available on the topic. For one, the amount of details given here is simply unprecedented... and relevant ones too.

The author does a fantastic job at leaving the least amount of blanks possible, describing every situation in vivid and often harrowing precision, leaving no doubt as to the brutality of those events and the heart-stopping fear they spread through some people. These vivid and accurate details play a very important role in making the whole thing feel more real, and the reader more present in it.

In addition to that, Saul David wrote this historical account in the same way you would write a novel, complete with a powerful narration that makes you truly fear for what will happen next, whether or not you know about the operation already.

This way of recounting history is actually rather effective at teaching and ensuring you remember what you learn, mostly because the entertainment factor really captivates you and makes for no boring moments.

It has to be said that the climax to which the whole story leads to, the storm of the Entebbe airport, is truly something to behold, something that sets this account of the event from all other ones.

It's impossible to tear your eyes away from the pages as each second is filled with gut-wrenching intensity, the kind that will certainly leave a mark in your mind for days, weeks, or perhaps even months to come.

Operation Thunderbolt by Saul David (Book cover)
In conclusion, Operation Thunderbolt is, at the moment, the definitive account of Mossad's operation to free Flight 139, bringing meticulous research and accurate details to the table, combining that with a gripping narration that makes you feel and grasp the intensity of it all.

Definitely a book I recommend to anyone who wants to learn about this important event in airplane terrorism history.

Saul David (Author)

Saul David

Personal site

Saul David is an academic military historian and broadcaster of British nationality. His in-depth works on the Indian revolt and the Anglo-Zulu war are highly-regarded in the historical community, with some of his better-known works including The Homicidal Earl and Indian Mutiny (non-fiction books) as well as Zulu Hart and Hart of Empire (both works of fiction).

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