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At the age of eighteen, Aaron Cohen left Beverly Hills to prove himself in the crucible of the armed forces. He was determined to be a part of Israel's most elite security cadre, akin to the American Green Berets and Navy SEALs. After fifteen months of grueling training designed to break down each individual man and to rebuild him as a warrior, Cohen was offered the only post a non-Israeli can hold in the special forces. In 1996 he joined a top-secret, highly controversial unit that dispatches operatives ...
At the age of eighteen, Aaron Cohen left Beverly Hills to prove himself in the crucible of the armed forces. He was determined to be a part of Israel's most elite security cadre, akin to the American Green Berets and Navy SEALs. After fifteen months of grueling training designed to break down each individual man and to rebuild him as a warrior, Cohen was offered the only post a non-Israeli can hold in the special forces. In 1996 he joined a top-secret, highly controversial unit that dispatches operatives disguised as Arabs into the Palestinian-controlled West Bank to abduct terrorist leaders and bring them to Israel for interrogation and trial.
Between 1996 and 1998, Aaron Cohen would learn Hebrew and Arabic; become an expert in urban counterterror warfare, the martial art of Krav Maga, and undercover operations; and participate in dozens of life-or-death missions. He would infiltrate a Hamas wedding to seize a wanted terrorist and pose as an American journalist to set a trap for one of the financiers behind the Dizengoff Massacre, taking him down in a brutal, hand-to-hand struggle. A propulsive, gripping read, Cohen's story is a rare, fly-on-the-wall view into the shadowy world of "black ops" that redefines invincible strength, true danger, and inviolable security.
Brotherhood of Warriors
It began almost immediately after 9/11. My office in Beverly Hills was deluged with calls. Everyone, it seemed, from cable news producers to U.S. government officials, wanted the inside scoop on Israeli security methods. Could Israel's counterterrorism experts have prevented the hijackings? How do they profile potential suicide bombers? Train counterterrorist operatives? Rescue hostages?
On September 11, I was up before dawn—old military habits being impossible to break—and watched the attacks unfolding live on TV. My God, I said to myself. It's finally happening here. It had just been a matter of time before America was dragged into the jihad that Israel has been fighting for decades. One of the reasons that I returned to Los Angeles in 2000, after completing my three-year ser vice in the Israel Defense Forces, was to pass on the cutting-edge counterterrorism techniques and sophisticated training I'd acquired as a counterterrorist commando in Israel. I knew that the United States was far too vulnerable to Islamic terrorist attacks and hoped I could do my part to sound the alarm before it was too late.
Ironically enough, though I've long considered Los Angeles my home, I wasn't even born in the United States, but in Montreal, Quebec, on February 28, 1976. My parents were part of the large English-speaking Jewish community that was soon to disperse to Toronto and other Canadian cities with the election of the Parti Québécois, which vowed to pursue "sovereignty" and separation from anglophone Canada.
My parents separated when I was small. I was constantlymoving, never living in the same house for more than two years at a time. I spent the first decade of my life bouncing between homes in Montreal, Miami, and Los Angeles.
My mother's family was prominent in the Montreal Jewish community, my maternal grandfather having built up his trucking business into one of the largest in Canada. By the time my parents separated, my mother had developed a desire to leave Canada behind and pursue a career in the entertainment industry. In fact, she had already begun a fledgling career as a screenwriter and producer while still in Montreal. But she wanted a shot at the big league—success American style—and decided to relocate us to south Florida, where I had an aunt and uncle. My mother brought my sister and me down there temporarily, establishing a U.S. residency, until the divorce from my father was final. We lived together in Miami until I was about eight, at which point my mother decided to move again, this time to Beverly Hills. She told me offhandedly one day as she was dropping me off at elementary school that she simply couldn't take me with her to California. I would be staying behind to live alone with my aunt in south Florida. She needed to get her own life settled and would be taking my sister. Of course, I felt abandoned, but I did my best not to show any sense of hurt or frustration. I lived with my aunt and went to school on my own for the next year and pretty much stayed out of trouble.
Slowly, my mother's show-business career was taking off; by working hard and networking constantly, my mother was actually getting TV writing and producing gigs in Hollywood. It was while working on a film project in the late 1980sthat she met the man with whom she would fall in love: Abby Mann, an older writer and producer who had won the 1961 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the classic Judgment at Nuremberg. When they married in a small, private ceremony in L.A., he became my stepfather, taking my sister and me into his Beverly Hills home and raising us as his own children.
Los Angeles came as a shock. I'd seen the lavish lifestyle in movies and TV shows, but nothing could prepare me for the reality. Suddenly, my sister and I were walking into my stepfather's world, where brushing up against the biggest stars in the business was as commonplace as waving hello to the mailman. That first week in Beverly Hills, for example, Tony Bennett came over to the house; I spent an hour with his chauffeur riding around in our huge semicircular driveway in the first stretch limousine I'd ever set foot inside. Over the years, Frank Sinatra—and his various wives—would drop in for coffee and a chat. So would what was left of the Rat Pack: Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and old-time musicians like Buddy Rich. I quickly got a crash course in celebrity, learning that you had to put on an air of nonchalance, never seeming starstruck, even when you saw people like Warren Beatty, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman, or Tom Cruise sitting in your living room talking over a script with your stepfather.
The money, especially the spending habits of the kids my age, was another matter entirely. I don't care how upper-middle-class you are by the standards of most places, the affluence of Beverly Hills is off the scale. Suddenly, I was surrounded by millionaires' kids, eight-year-olds growing upinpalm-shaded palaces in the hills with Rolls-Royces in the driveway.
Life in Los Angeles wasn't such a big shock for my mother—her career was blossoming now, and she was making a name for herself as a film and television writer-producer. But to a kid my age, the adjustment was difficult, to say the least. It wasn't long before I started acting out in school—constantly being put on detention or called down to the principal's office for disrupting the class—and my mother acknowledged that the solution might be a more structured and traditional home environment. So while my sister stayed in Beverly Hills, I moved back in with my aunt's family in south Florida from ages eleven to twelve.
A year later, when the garage at their house in Beverly Hills was converted into a bedroom for me, I returned to Los Angeles, transferring to my fourth . . .Brotherhood of Warriors. Copyright ? by Aaron Cohen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted July 10, 2008
I love military stories, and this book is one of the best I've ever read! I found myself cheering for the brave Israeli soldiers, and I was awe inspired by their brilliant tactics, determination, and dedication. An inspiring book which I highly recommend!!
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Posted September 22, 2011
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Posted July 14, 2009
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