• Rise and Kill First

  • The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations
  • By: Ronen Bergman
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 25 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Middle East
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (2,081 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller. The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF’s targeted killing programs, hailed by The New York Times as "an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject."

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in History.

Named one of the 10 best books of the year by Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times.

Named one of the best books of the year by The Economist, The New York Times Book Review, BBC History Magazine, Mother Jones, and Kirkus Reviews

The Talmud says: "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first." This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel's DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively.

In this pause-resisting, eye-opening audiobook, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman - praised by David Remnick as "arguably [Israel's] best investigative reporter" - offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.

Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country's military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world's most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a "Mossad within the Mossad" that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism).

Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel’s most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel’s targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.

©2018 Ronen Bergman (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Ronen Bergman has set out in incontestable detail the history and scale of Israel’s use of extrajudicial killing as an instrument of defense and foreign policy. His material is stark and sensational, but he steers a steady course through it, even pausing along the way to debate the effectiveness and morality of his subject. The result is a compelling read whatever your point of view.” (John le Carré)  

“This remarkable account of Israel’s targeted-killing programs is the product of nearly eight years of research into what is arguably the most secretive and impenetrable intelligence community in the world. Bergman, an investigative reporter and military analyst, interviewed hundreds of insiders, including assassins, and obtained thousands of classified documents.” (The New Yorker)

“America’s difficult relationship with targeted killing and the dilemmas we may face in the future are beautifully illuminated by the longer story of Israel’s experiences with assassination in its own endless war against terrorism.... Americans now have a terrific new introduction to that story with publication of Ronen Bergman’s Rise and Kill First.... It moves at a torrid pace and tells stories that would make Jason Bourne sit up and say ‘Wow!’ It is smart, thoughtful and balanced, and the English translation is superb. It deserves all of the plaudits it has already received.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Blending history and investigative reporting, Bergman never loses sight of the ethical questions that arise when a state, founded as a refuge for a stateless people who were targets of a genocide, decides it needs to kill in order to survive.... This book is full of shocking moments, surprising disturbances in a narrative full of fateful twists and unintended consequences.” (The New York Times)

What listeners say about Rise and Kill First

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Eye Opening

This book has had a profound effect on the way I perceive evens in the past,
and the dynamics of current events.
The books was extremely hard to stop listening to. Never felt board or wanting the author to move on with it.
Narration was appeasing to the ears and had a good use of voice inflection.
Would recommend to anyone who wants to step into another angle of Israel’s history past and present. From my understanding the Author only published what could be verified so I feel these accounts are valid.

29 people found this helpful

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Outstanding History!

This was definitely one of the best non-fiction works I have ever read. The research effort was remarkable, considering the secrecy surrounding most of the episodes. It fleshed out the details of countless incidents which I had heard about for decades, wondering what the real story was. Each episode was superbly written as an un-putdonwnable spy thriller, and the narration by Rob Shapiro was excellent.

13 people found this helpful

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Terrific book. Timely topic. Well documented and told

This is an utterly fantastic historical account of Israel’s defense services and their tactics and strategies. It is in believable how folks like Tom Clancy could write fiction when this stuff was real. Bergen is an excellent story teller. With such amazing content to choose from, I’m amazed TBE book was not longer! Well done.

From an audiobook POV, the narrator does an excellent job as well.

11 people found this helpful

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Expand your knowledge due to underreporting

This book jumps around a bit but provides a fuller understanding of Israeli and Palestinian fighting. It doesn't spend much time dwelling on large scale societal repression of Palestinians. It does make the case for a 2 state solution and casts Netanyahu as a dishonest politician who is at odds with his intelligence community.
The focus is on Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies battling Hezbollah, PLO, Hamas, Iran, Syrian, and Egypt.

15 people found this helpful

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Israeli James Bond! loved it!

its got action, characters, history, politics. What more can you want?

I loved it!
Israeli James Bond shows truth is stranger than fiction.
spoilers: Arafat was Gay

5 people found this helpful

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fantastic

amazing details, gripping story. the access this man had was amazing. so many suspenseful moment. highly recommend.

5 people found this helpful

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Honest to God

Okay. You remember the chapter where it talks about 2 operatives who failed to assassinate a target in Egypt with their fake Canadian passports? Remember what the Canadian consul who visited them in the Egyptian jail said after interviewing them? He said: “I don’t know who they are but Canadians they are not”. Here’s my line. I don’t know who these people are but the Jews they are not.

4 people found this helpful

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Stunning and captivating

This book gives a rare insight into the political and military decision making for assassinations throughout the Middle East very detailed and accurate accounts and techniques used to achieve these goals definitely a must read for anyone intrested in Middle East is really conflicts and generally espionage

4 people found this helpful

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  • R.
  • 08-22-19

Author: Everything is Israel's fault.

To the author, no good deed by Israel deserves praise and no mistake by Israel can be condemned harshly enough

Example: The author heaps severe condemnation on Israel for accidentally killing an innocent person but fails to equally condemn the bloodthirsty terrorists who deliberately kill innocent women and children every chance they get.

There is no doubt that some in Israel's government and military have done horrible horrible things for which there is no justification. However, the author fails to condemn the PLO or it's leadership for it's atrocities.

Israel is, and always has been, under threat of extinction. Nations have tried repeatedly to wipe Israel off the map in the bloodiest way possible. For the most part, Israel has responded deliberately and in a measured manner. Allmost always, Israel has tried to avoid civilian casualties. The PLO, Black September, and the other terrorist organization of their kind have deliberately tried to cause civilian casualties. This seems to be lost on the author.

The author takes the easy way out by blaming all the regions ills on Israel. The author deliberately ignores or glosses over the dangerous situation created by the neighboring countries, the PLO, terrorists, and the Palestinians themselves. The author deliberately fails to mention in any degree of specificity, of how the Palestinians suffer(ed) under the other neighboring governments as much as under Israel, if not more.

In fact, the other MUSLIM COUNTRIES HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN KEEPING PALESTINIANS IMPOVERISHED AND WITHOUT A COUNTRY SO AS TO MISDIRECT THEIR OWN CITIZENS' ANGER AT THEIR RESPECTIVE GOVERNMENTS, ROYAL FAMILIES, AND DICTATORSHIPS, BY CITING THE PLIGHT OF THE "POOR INNOCENT SUFFERING PALESTINIANS CAUSED BY BIG BAD ISRAEL." The author's failure to address this is inexcusable as his one sided book only offers anti-Semitic, anti-isrseli regimes and uneducated, hateful people the guise of justification for their disgusting world view that an entire nation/religion has no right to even exist.

I am sure the author would respond that such a discussion is outside the scope of the book. But such a response would be disingenuous and cowardly at best. Cowardly because it was the author who deliberately limited the scope of his work so as to examine Israel's actions in as much of a vacuum as possible so as to cast Israel in the most negative light possible.

Unfortunately, the author wasted a significant amount of time, research and effort to only have it trivialized by his employing an inconsistent, double standard when comparing Israel's actions with EVERY OTHER COUNTRY AND TERRORIST ORGANIZATION IN THE REGION.

He fails to highlight the many Israelis that want a peaceful & diplomatic solution that benefits both Israel and Palestine and it's neighbors.

There are other more reputable and even handed books worth reading more than this.

5 people found this helpful

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An incredible and eye opening.

Could not stop listening. Must read to better understand the Israeli security service as well as the regions struggles

2 people found this helpful

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  • GM
  • 11-17-21

Glorification of terror

The narration of this book is high quality and enjoyable. The content is clearly a propaganda piece, aimed to glorify the thugs of the Israeli occupation army that has caused (and keeps causing) unimaginable harm to the indigenous population of Palestine and exports its techniques to other oppressive regimes. It is an interesting listen for anyone who is interested in the recounting of the evolution of immoral deeds and the justification efforts towards the general public.