Gerald Seymour









One Day in September

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In the early hours of 5 September 1972 the perimeter fence surrounding the Olympic Village in Munich was scaled by members of the ultra-violent Palestinian terrorist faction Black September. Their target was the temporary home of the Israeli Olympic team. Within 24 hours eleven Israelis, five terrorists, and a German policeman were dead.
Based largely on exhaustive investigation for the Oscar-winning documentary, One Day in September is the definitive account of the tragedy. Simon Reeve has gathered extraordinary information from a number of sources, including recently released Stasi files and interviews with key figures, including the families of the hostages, politicians, policemen, advisors, fellow athletes, media figures and even the lone surviving member of the group that carried out the attack. Reeve's control over his material is admirable. He vividly paints images of the individuals involved, humanising a narrative that cracks and buzzes with the compact tension of those 24 hours. At the same time, he provides the background to the attack, filling in vital historical context from the distant and recent past, such as the Arab-Jewish dispute which produced this and other terrorist actions and their responses. He conveys the public horror of Jews being incarcerated on German soil which lead the German authorities to make crucial judgements with tragic results. Fatal errors were made which can only be fully understood through the underlying dynamics of not only of Middle East history, but also post-war European politics, individual and institutional arrogance, inexperience, and political pressure-including from the International Olympic Committee. Reeve follows up the events of that day by exposing the full extent of the Israeli revenge mission, which over the next 20 years hunted down and killed those responsible for the attack. He has not only written a compelling book, but provided a considerable service in allowing readers to understand the forces of hatred and history which conspired towards inevitable, but no less tragic human consequences.

Those who were a part of the huge live media audience who watched helplessly as events unfolded will undoubtedly experience again the sense of dread at recalling those traumatised shackled figures led out from the Olympic Village to their fate on a German airfield. Those who make the mistake of thinking the dark days of international terrorism are history will read One Day in September and remember that those underlying tensions still cast shadows over our present and future. --Fiona Buckland

The definitive account of the 1972 Munich Olympics, when 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists - or inept German snipers. It covers the seige and massacre, the ensuing recriminations, and the launch of one of the most clinical revenge operations of the century.

The publisher, Faber and Faber , 8 June, 2000
Daily Mail "This astonishing record of the massacre at the Munich Olympics should be compulsory reading - for the generation for whom that event is now a hazy memory, and for their children. I read in one sitting the gripping narrative of the events of that day in 1972 when Palestinian Black September terrorists kidnapped members of the Israeli team. Eleven of the team died, along with five terrorists, but the author's detailed reconstruction implicates the German authorities in a tragically inept rescue operation."

The Sunday Herald A "Brilliant investigation into the Olympics' darkest day" "This book, which brilliantly recaptures the tension of the day as well as the human cost of the botched police operation, is a masterclass in investigative journalism."

The Birmingham Post "Written with all the pace of a thriller, this is also a genuinely moving account of one of the most tragic, and shameful, episodes of recent history."

The publisher, Faber & Faber , 5 May, 2000
Publishers Weekly April 24, 2000 Advance Starred Review

"a splendid, disturbing and gripping account"

"stands among the best of its kind"

"Reeve...has written a splendid, disturbing and gripping account of these events and the world's reactions. He has interviewed (or caused to be interviewed) all surviving participants, from Israeli officers and athletes to the one surviving Black September gunman, Jamal Al-Gashey: a spate of quotes lets Reeve reconstruct, day by day and sometimes minute by minute, decisions and reactions on all sides, from the terrorists' initial planning to the German authorities' alleged coverups and the families' later grief. The film of the same title, based on the same set of interviews, took this year's Oscar for Best Documentary. Reeve's narrative also stands among the best of its kind." ____________________________________________________________________

The bloodiest sports day on record: Black September's terrorist action at the 1972 Munich Olympics still reverberates.

Simon Garfield is gripped

Financial Times 22-Apr-2000

ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER: The Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre by Simon Reeve

"very moving testimony"

"...Simon Reeve, a journalist who specialises in the history of terrorism, was just a few months old in September 1972, but achieves the considerable feat of retelling the details of the massacre and its aftermath as if he were a witness."

"His account is rounded and frequently gripping."

"Like the film, Reeve plays the massacre like a thriller, and delights in atmospheric details. The sniper steeled himself as bullets whizzed around his head, we learn at the decisive shoot-out at the Furstenfeldbruk Luftwaffe base; the Games didn't just resume after the killings, but limped to their close on a cold, dark night."

"Reeve has the best of both worlds - access to the film's key interviews combined with the ability to add well-weighed information from cuttings and other research. His book benefits from the first-ever interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, the sole surviving terrorist involved, and it is unnerving to learn that the gunmen were bunked-up over the perimeter fence into the Olympic Village by American athletes returning early in the morning after a party."

"Unexpectedly, there are occasional flashes of black humour. Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak admits to leading a revenge mission into Beirut when he commanded his country's equivalent of the British SAS: a perilous journey, and one in which he disguised himself as a woman, with make-up, and hand-grenades concealed in his bra. His only regret is that he wore trousers. The skirts then were a little short and narrow, he explained later."

"Reeve is especially good on the covert deal struck between the German government and Black September seven weeks after the massacre, when the three terrorists who survived the shoot-out were exchanged for the 13 passengers on a hijacked Lufthansa Boeing. The whole affair was a set-up: keen to rid themselves of the terrorists, and fearful of further murderous acts, the Germans hatched a plan with the Palestinians that would benefit them both."

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