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


This book is like the T.V. series "24" only in real-life. If you like action and history, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. Buy it and listen.

Ronan Bergmen tells the history of Israel's elite intelligence and special forces agencies. He does it through first hand accounts of people who have been there, from redacted documents and anonymous sources. He disguises the names and identities of many of them, making some of the fact-checking difficult. But I have no reason to believe he is lying. His overall narrative is in keeping with what I've read and heard about the subject matter from several other sources.

That being said, I found this book to be incredibly educational. The author did a great job in placing the actions of his subjects within the context of history; these were a people fighting for survival and willing to anything necessary to ensure their, and their fellow citizens remained alive. There were many things about the history of Israel's founding, it's intelligence services as well defense forces that I didn't know.

It was incredibly interesting to see these events unfold through the stories of the people who partook in real-life events; especially when these events unfold like an action movie. I sometimes found myself forgetting that he was talking about real-world history. I was almost shell-shocked when I came back to reality and remembered this wasn't a fictional narrative. The author regularly reminded the consequences of many of these actions were. 

It was (and still is) hard for me to discern whether or not the authors views were balanced; especially as someone who is very partial towards Israel. I tried to keep an open mind. However, it was still painful for me to listen to the author criticizing Israel's actions; especially after presenting the country as having to fight for survival in the midst of enemies that want to destroy it. I also didn't appreciate the implication that many of Israel's problems were of it's own making, or those of it's leaders. There was definitely a liberal, almost naive, undertone that implied Israel would have achieved the same results if it were less hawkish; an idea that I'm not sure I agree with. 

However, to be fair the author was also clearly critical of the actions of foreign countries, terrorist groups and the Palestinian Authority; although the latter can arguably be called a terrorist organization itself. Though I felt, this criticism was not to the same degree as that of Israel. It may be because Israel's intelligence agencies, and not others, were the focus of the book. It may also be because of my political, intellectual and emotional leanings. However, I'm usually pretty good at setting those aside. I still felt the bias was there.

In any case, you should most certainly find out and judge for yourself.  This book is well-written, well read and worth the price.