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Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel (Hardcover)
Winner of the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015.
A riveting story about the murder that changed a nation: the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin remains the single most consequential event in Israel’s recent history, and one that fundamentally altered the trajectory for both Israel and the Palestinians. Killing a King relates the parallel stories of Rabin and his stalker, Yigal Amir, over the two years leading up to the assassination, as one of them planned political deals he hoped would lead to peace, and the other plotted murder.
Dan Ephron, who reported from the Middle East for much of the past two decades, covered both the rally where Rabin was killed and the subsequent murder trial. He describes how Rabin, a former general who led the army in the Six-Day War of 1967, embraced his nemesis, Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, and set about trying to resolve the twentieth century’s most vexing conflict. He recounts in agonizing detail how extremists on both sides undermined the peace process with ghastly violence. And he reconstructs the relentless scheming of Amir, a twenty-five-year-old law student and Jewish extremist who believed that Rabin’s peace effort amounted to a betrayal of Israel and the Jewish people. As Amir stalked Rabin over many months, the agency charged with safeguarding the Israeli leader missed key clues, overlooked intelligence reports, and then failed to protect him at the critical moment, exactly twenty years ago. It was the biggest security blunder in the agency’s history.
Through the prism of the assassination, much about Israel today comes into focus, from the paralysis in peacemaking to the fraught relationship between current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. Based on Israeli police reports, interviews, confessions, and the cooperation of both Rabin’s and Amir’s families, Killing a King is a tightly coiled narrative that reaches an inevitable, shattering conclusion. One can’t help but wonder what Israel would look like today had Rabin lived.
About the Author
An award-winning writer, Dan Ephron has served as the Jerusalem bureau chief for Newsweek and the Daily Beast and now lives in New York City.
An illuminating version of the story…admirably concise and meticulously reported.
— A. O. Scott
Exceptional…an electrifying political narrative twinned with an old-fashioned crime story—of the sort that ought to be taught in journalism schools for its restraint, pacing and expert creation of suspense…. The book is a Greek tragedy told in split screen, a frame-for-frame chronicle of a deplorable death foretold…. This tragedy ends, as so many do, with pride, suffering and fear on terrible display. It’s the flickering reel of fateful choices and desperate last moments that I’ll remember most.
— Jennifer Senior
Incisive…. In a crisp and lively narrative, Ephron walks the reader through the assassination itself and its aftermath…[and] infuses his book with relevance by circling back to bigger questions.
— Ilene Prusher
A clear-eyed account…captures the way politics in this young and tiny country are uniquely and deeply personal.
Striking…if the story of Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Amir has anything to teach, it’s that individuals matter…. The opportunity that Rabin was trying to seize—however small—was there for a moment, and it may never come again.
— Dexter Filkins
Carefully reported, clearly presented, concise and gripping…a reminder that what happened on a Tel Aviv sidewalk 20 years ago is as important to understanding Israel as any of its wars.
— Matti Friedman
Vividly written and sharply insightful, Killing a King is an important and valuable addition to our understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
— Adam Lebor
— Ian Black
An authoritative narrative that will serve as a valuable record of history. It is also a page-turner…practically every page carries the tense energy of fresh insight.
— David K. Shipler
Stunning…a chilling reminder that sometimes an assassin’s bullet really can alter the course of history. By unearthing previously confidential police and court records, Ephron gives us the definitive account of a fatal turning point for Israel. Killing a King is thorough, even-handed, and absolutely authoritative.
— Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, and author of The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames
The killing of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish fanatic helped derail the promising but fragile Middle East peace process and plunged Israelis and Palestinians into a nightmarish era of political violence and recrimination that haunts them still. In Killing a King Ephron digs up important details that give new understanding to those terrible events and their enduring impact. His authoritative account is both a sharply etched political thriller and a meditation on all that has gone wrong in the Promised Land.
— Glenn Frankel, former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting
With remarkable reporting, Dan Ephron has written an epic story, honestly and skillfully. Killing a King is not just about Israel’s past. It’s also an important read for anyone who wishes to truly understand the country’s disturbing present and unsettling future.
— Etgar Keret, author of The Seven Good Years: A Memoir