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Operation Thunderbolt

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781444762525

Price: £10.99

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*By the historical consultant to the major motion picture Entebbe*

‘The definitive work on the subject….This is the achievement of a masterly, first-rate historian’ New York Times Book Review

‘It’s a brilliantly orchestrated book, wonderfully rich in detail, but at the same time roaring along at a heart-thumping pace…’ Mail on Sunday

‘A brilliant, breathless account that reads like the plot of an action movie.’ Sunday Telegraph

This edition is updated with new material on recent discoveries.

On 3 July 1976 Israeli Special Forces carried out a daring raid to free more than a hundred Israeli, French and US hostages held by German and Palestinian terrorists at Entebbe Airport, Uganda. The legacy of this mission is still felt today in the way Western governments respond to terrorist blackmail.

Codenamed Thunderbolt, the operation carried huge risks. The flight was a challenge: 2,000 miles with total radio silence over hostile territory to land in darkness at Entebbe Airport in Idi Amin’s Uganda. On the ground, the Israeli commandos had just three minutes to carry out their mission. They had to evade a cordon of élite Ugandan paratroopers, storm the terminal and free more than a hundred hostages. So much could have gone wrong: the death of the hostages if the terrorists got wind of the assault; or the capture of Israel’s finest soldiers if their Hercules planes could not take off. Both would have been a human and a PR catastrophe.

Now, with the mission largely forgotten or even unknown to many, Saul David gives the first comprehensive account of Operation Thunderbolt using classified documents from archives in four countries and interviews with key participants, including Israeli soldiers and politicians, hostages, a member of the Kenyan government and a former terrorist.

Both a thrilling page-turner and a major piece of historical detective work, Operation Thunderbolt shows how the outcome of Israel’s most famous military operation depended on secret diplomacy, courage and luck-and was in the balance right up to the very last moment.


Better than fiction can ever hope to be and true to Saul David's characteristically authentic style, this breathtakingly tense and incredibly moving account of history's most audacious Special Forces operation is one of the best true stories I've ever read. Gritty, visceral and edge-of-the-seat dramatic, Operation Thunderbolt ticks all the boxes and is destined to be one of the military history classics of the decade.
Major Chris Hunter, author of Eight Lives Down
Long fuse. Slow burn. Big bang. A Krakatoa of a tale.
Damien Lewis, author of Operation Certain Death
Totally thrilling, totally poignant. Bringing the greatest special forces operation of modern times blazingly to life, David's book, full of new revelations, written with the excitement of an action-movie, the authority of a historian, is great drama, superb storytelling - and yet tells us much about the Middle East today.
Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem
Well-researched and highly readable.
Times Literary Supplement
A ripping read and a meticulously researched work of history.
Evening Standard
Combining exceptional research with gripping storytelling, Saul David's Operation Thunderbolt is an unputdownable account of perhaps the most extraordinary Special Forces mission in history. I loved it.
Rowland White, author of 'Vulcan 607'
It's a brilliantly orchestrated book, wonderfully rich in detail, but at the same time roaring along at a heart-thumping pace... I embarked on this book as someone not particularly interested in the Middle East, or in adventure tales of soldiers in action; I finished it in a state of high tension, buzzing through the pages in the need to know what happened next.
Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday
Told with the style and pace of TV thrillers such as 24.
The Times
Gripping... As the hours tick down to the threatened bloody denouement, tension mounts and the atmosphere thickens... A page-turner, with its single clear mission, cast of distinct personalities and very filmic scenes.
The Spectator
Gripping... will introduce a whole new generation of readers to an extraordinary story... The climax of the rescue itself is brilliantly told; nearly 40 years on, you still heave a sigh of relief when the last when the last Hercules lifts off from the Entebbe runway and lumbers off into the night and a new daw for the hostages - and for Israel.
Jewish Chronicle
A brilliant, breathless account that reads like the plot of an action movie
Sunday Telegraph
A meticulously researched, skilfully constructed, carefully balanced and absorbing book.
The Observer
Combines phenomenal research with the paciness of a thriller.
Economist Intelligent Life
For the first time in my reading life I felt physically thrilled by a book... Wonderful.
Jonathan Mirsky, Literary Review
This is a minute-by-minute narrative of that week by a scrupulous and thorough historian, who has written what will most likely be the definitive work on the subject and produced a tense and riveting account of what has come to be known as the Entebbe raid. By means of extraordinarily deep research, David essentially lets the characters speak for themselves...This is the achievement of a masterly, first-rate historian.
The New York Times Book Review