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An Innocent Bystander

The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer
Narrated by: Peter Ganim
Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Politics
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The definitive story of one American family at the center of a single, shocking act of international terrorism that "manages to capture the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict". (Dan Ephron) 

On October 3, 1985, Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled Jewish New Yorker, and his wife boarded the Achille Lauro to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary with a Mediterranean cruise. Four days later, four Palestinian fedayeen hijacked the Italian luxury liner and took the passengers and crew hostage. Leon Klinghoffer was shot in the head, his body and wheelchair thrown overboard. His murder became a flashpoint in the intractable struggle between Israelis and Arabs and gave Americans a horrifying preview of what it means when terrorism hits home. 

In this richly reported book, drawing on multiple perspectives, Julie Salamon dispels the mythology that has grown around that shattering moment. What transpired on the Achille Lauro left the Klinghoffer family in the grip of irredeemable sorrow, while precipitating tragic reverberations for the wives and sons of Abu al-Abbas, the Palestinian mastermind behind the hijacking, and the family of Alex Odeh, a Palestinian-American murdered in Los Angeles in a brutal act of retaliation. 

Through intimate interviews with almost all living participants, including one of the hijackers, Julie Salamon brings alive the moment-by-moment saga of the hijacking and the ensuing US-led international manhunt; the diplomatic wrangling between the United States, Egypt, Italy, and Israel; and the long agonizing search for justice. The book also reveals the back story of the controversial opera about the Klinghoffer tragedy that provoked a culture war. 

An Innocent Bystander is a masterful work of journalism that moves between the personal and the global with the pace of a geopolitical thriller and the depth of a psychological drama. Throughout lies the tension wrought by terrorism and its repercussions today.

©2019 Julie Salamon (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Salamon plucks the story of the killing of one man out of the rush of history and holds it up for nuanced consideration. In so doing, she shows us how the events around a single murder continue to ripple outward, through the families of both the murder victim and the man who set that murder in motion. An illuminating, necessary book." (J T Rogers, Oslo)

"By telling the story of the Klinghoffer murder richly and elegantly, Salamon manages to capture the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - the injustice, the desperation, the horror, and the folly. Her book sparkles with insight." (Dan Ephron, author of Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel)

"In this gripping account, former Wall Street Journal and New York Times reporter and critic Salamon adeptly reveals the parallel lives of the well-educated and privileged wife of the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Front and the successful, New York City-bred daughters of abductees Marilyn and Leon Klinghoffer. Salamon's account of the strategizing of Palestinian, Israeli, and American diplomats, followed by the soldiers' captures and subsequent escapes, are as engaging as a spy novel.... An engrossing narrative of a notorious act of terror." (Kirkus Reviews)

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A gripping thriller told objectively from all points of view

This had perfect sequencing of events in real time from all perspectives, yet with many unanswered questions. It brought out all layers of human condition. There are few hero’s and many victims on both sides, leaving very little room for peace and coexistence.

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Very Interesting

This is a very interesting well presented story; is captivating and easy to listen to. This book’s message is very much worth listening to.

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Incredible story

The author is a marvelous storyteller—I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! And she gives enough historical context to keep things politically relevant without detracting from the intense human experiences or weighing down the narrative. Would definitely recommend

Also the narrator is good - especially liked the proper Arabic pronunciation