the full story of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and the Israeli revenge operation 'Wrath of God'
by Simon Reeve
Published by Faber & Faber and Arcade in 2000
The New Yorker: "Highly skilled and detailed...it’s a page-turner"
Publishers Weekly: "stands among the best of its kind"
In the early hours of 5 September 1972 the perimeter fence surrounding the Olympic Village in Munich was scaled by terrorists. Their target was the temporary home of the Israeli Olympic team, and within 24 hours 17 men were dead.
One Day in September is the dramatic and definitive account of the entire tragedy. It explains what happened on that terrible day, documents the aftermath, and then reveals the full extent of Israel’s covert revenge operation, since known as ‘Wrath of God’.
One Day in September is the story of a modern tragedy. It details one of the most significant terror attacks of recent times: one that thrust the Palestinian cause into the world spotlight, set the tone for decades of conflict in the Middle East, and launched a new era of international terrorism. Read an excerpt.
One Day in September: the documentary movie of the same name won the Oscar for best feature documentary and was screened in cinemas around the world. The story of the Munich massacre and subsequent Israeli revenge operation has been turned into a major new feature movie by Steven Spielberg.
[Olympics Massacre: Munich - The real story; With Steven Spielberg's controversial film out next week, Simon Reeve revisits the events of 1972 - and reveals how they shaped the terror age - article here]
Description from the cover of the book:
"In the early hours of 5 September 1972 the perimeter fence surrounding the Olympic Village in Munich was scaled by terrorists. Their target was the temporary home of the Israeli Olympic team, and within 24 hours seventeen men were dead: eleven Israelis, five terrorists and a German policeman.
The attack by Black September, an ultra-violent faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, was seen on television by more than 900 million viewers. The world watched as Jews suffered again on German soil. Yet despite the immediate attention given to the disaster crucial questions went unanswered. Why did so many die? And why have German officials covered up details of the massacre? Based largely on exhaustive investigations for the film One Day in September, this book is the definitive account of the massacre.
With the help of previously secret documents, photographs and dozens of interviews, it reconstructs the tension of the day - and exposes the full extent of the Israeli 'Wrath of God' revenge mission, which over the next twenty years saw Israeli agents systematically murder their way across Europe and the Middle East.
One Day in September is the most compelling account yet written of events in Munich, of the devastating impact the attack had on the relatives of terrorists and athletes alike - and of the long shadow the massacre still casts over the modern world."
One Day in September was published in 2000 by Faber and Faber in Britain, Arcade in the USA, and by Penguin in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. It has also been published and sold in a number of other countries around the world.
The film One Day in September, narrated by the actor Michael Douglas, won the Oscar for Best Documentary.
Media reviews of One Day in September:
The New Yorker: "Highly skilled and detailed...it’s a page-turner. As the rest of the world looked on in horror and amazement, the hostage crisis played itself out as a sinister comedy of ineptitude, a moral and military disaster whose ironies, to this day, are almost too excruciating to bear”
Esquire magazine: "The 1972 Munich Olympics were dubbed ‘the Games of Peace and Joy’. But following 24 hours of mismanagement and murder, that dream had died. Here, at last, is the full story"
The Times of London: "A gripping account"
Daily Mail: "This astonishing record of the massacre at the Munich Olympics should be compulsory reading...I read in one sitting the gripping narrative"
The Financial Times: "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. Very moving testimony"
The Observer: "for the first time, hostages, terrorists and German police tell the extraordinary story of the day in Munich that all but extinguished the Olympic flame"
The Village Voice, New York: "Simon Reeve pulls off another master stroke…"
Publishers Weekly - Advance Starred Review: "a splendid, disturbing and gripping account...stands among the best of its kind"
International Herald Tribune: 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"
Chicago Tribune: "The strength of Reeve’s book is that it starts before the beginning. It details not only the crisis itself, but also the historical background that led to the crisis. It is an important book, a thorough primer on the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian standoff. It does not provide excuses for the terrorists, but it does provide context. Reeve reconstructs the day moment-by-moment"
The Sunday Herald: "Reeve’s research reads as slickly as a good thriller. Unlike the documentary, the book has more room to recreate the Munich Olympics massacre in a context stretching back to King David. It’s hard to believe there’ll be a more definitive account"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Powerful…recounts in horrifying detail the tragedy that claimed the lives of 11 Israelis. One Day in September describes the savagery of the “Black September” Palestinian terrorists and the monumental ineptitude of the German forces that tried to rescue the hostages at Fürstenfeldbruck airport”
Philadelphia Daily News: “This is an important book. It helps us understand what really happened in Munich, what went so tragically wrong at the airfield. It helps us understand why Middle East peace is so fragile, so elusive. It helps us understand why Israel refused to negotiate with the terrorists. And why, in an incredible operation named ‘Wrath of God’, the key people involved in the Munich slaughter were hunted down by Israeli secret agents and killed”
The Irish Times: “The Munich Games should have been a showpiece, a symbol of Germany’s rehabilitation in the democratic world. They should have provided new images for Munich, the city close to Dachau and closely identified with the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews. But everything went wrong for the new Munich and the new Germany as the world watched Jews suffering once again on German soil. Reeve tells the sad and human story of the trauma that has continued to haunt the families of the Israelis killed in Munich”
To buy the book:
USA: get the book at a discount - here; NEW US edition available Jan 2006 here
USA: Simon's publishers are here
Germany: buy Simon's books from Amazon Germany - in English and here
Germany: buy One Day in September - Ein Tag im September - in German
Canada: books by Simon Reeve from Amazon.ca - here
Italy: more details from Simon's Italian publishers here
Turkey: Simon's publishers are here and here
Holland: Simon's publishers are here
Japan: you can buy Simon's books at these sites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Australia: available here
France: available from Amazon.fr
The Munich Olympic Games
USA Today interview with Simon Reeve regarding One Day in September
One Day in September - the film
On this day - BBC archive
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see the award-winning photography of James Reeve, Simon's brother, here