The Last Daysby Joel C. Rosenberg, Patrick Girard Lawlor
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Osama bin Laden is dead. Saddam’s regime is buried. Baghdad lies in ruins. Now the eyes of the world are on Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy, two senior White House advisors, as they arrive in the Middle East to offer a historic Arab-Israeli peace plan and the American president’s new vision of freedom and democracy.
But in the shadows lie men whose hearts are filled with evilmen for whom the prospects of peace go against everything they believe. And soon, one terrifying scheme after another begins to unfold:
- An Iranian plot to send suicide bombers into the U.S.
- A terrorist plot to assassinate the prime minister of Israel
- A Jewish plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock
- Brilliance Audio
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Read an Excerpt
The Last Days
By Joel C. Rosenberg
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2003 Joel C. Rosenberg
All rights reserved.
"You really want me to kill him?"
The question hung in the air for a moment, and neither said another word.
The flames crackled in the fireplace of the elegant penthouse apartment overlooking central Tehran. Light rain fell on the clay balcony tiles. Bitter December winds howled outside, rustling trees and rattling windows. Thunder rumbled in the distance. And the room and the sky grew dark.
Mohammed Jibril looked out over the teeming city of his youth, as the haunting call to prayer echoed across the rooftops. He knew he should not feel so tired, but he did. Tired of sleeping in different beds, different houses, different cities. Tired of constantly watching his back, and that of Yuri Gogolov, the man sitting in the shadows behind him, puffing casually on one of his beloved Cuban cigars. Jibril considered his options. There weren't many.
"You understand, of course," Jibril continued, "that you will be unleashing a war that could escalate beyond our control — beyond anyone's control?"
A silent, unnerving pause.
"And you're ready for this war?" Jibril asked, perhaps too bluntly.
Instantly regretting the question, he could feel a chill descend upon the room. Gogolov sat motionless in an overstuffed velvet chair. He looked out at the mountains and the minarets and the twinkling lights of the ancient Iranian capital. He drew long and hard on the Cohiba, and the cigar glowed in the shadows.
* * *
Air Force One roared down runway 18-36 "Lima."
Flanked by four F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets, the gleaming new Boeing 747 quickly gained altitude and banked toward the Atlantic. President James "Mac" MacPherson stared out the window. He could no longer see the lights of Madrid Barajas International Airport, or the lights of the Spanish capital itself, just nine miles away. The emergency one-day NATO summit was over. In a few hours, he'd be home, back at the White House, under pressure to answer the question on everyone's mind: Now what?
Osama bin Laden was dead. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were obliterated. And now — just three and half weeks after it began — the war in Iraq was effectively over. Saddam Hussein was dead and buried under a thousand tons of rubble. His sons were dead, too, cut down in a hail of allied gunfire. His murderous regime had been toppled. His henchmen were being scooped up by U.S. Special Forces, one by one, day by day. But the president had never felt more alone.
Rebuilding Iraq and keeping it from blowing apart like Bosnia would be difficult enough. But that wasn't the only thing on his plate. Wars and rumors of wars dominated the headlines. New threats surfaced constantly. North Korea was just months away from building six to ten nuclear bombs. Iran would soon complete a nuclear reactor with Russian assistance, capable of producing two to three nuclear warheads a month. Syria and Iran appeared to be harboring top Iraqi military officials and scientists. NATO was badly divided. The U.N. was a mess. Democrats threatened to filibuster most of the White House's major legislative priorities. And now this: the FBI and Justice Department were recommending the death penalty in United States v Stuart Morris Iverson, one of the most chilling acts of espionage in the nation's history, not to mention one that involved one of the president's closest friends and a man who was, until a month ago, Secretary of the Treasury.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, was insisting that all U.S. forces leave its soil immediately. And OPEC — outraged by the U.S. strikes against Iraq — was threatening an all-out oil embargo unless war reparations were made to the Iraqi people and pressure was brought to bear on Israel to allow the creation of a Palestinian state. The president recoiled at the thought of an ultimatum from countries he had just saved from nuclear, chemical, and biological annihilation. He wasn't about to submit to blackmail, but he was painfully aware of the risks he was running. Even now, his handpicked diplomatic team were on their way to Jerusalem.
MacPherson — feeling quite vigorous at sixty until a team of Iraqi assassins nearly took his life the month before — was beginning to feel his age. He swallowed a handful of aspirin and washed it down with a bottle of water. His head was pounding. His back and neck were in excruciating pain. He needed sleep. He needed to clear his head. The last thing he needed was an oil price shock reminiscent of '73. So much of the road ahead was foggy. But one thing was painfully obvious: the horrific battle of Iraq wasn't the end of the war on terror. It was just the beginning.
When ordering a hit, Jibril preferred the anonymity of an Internet café.
No one would bother him. No one could trace him. And at less than 25,000 rials an hour — about three U.S. dollars — it was far cheaper than using his satellite phone.
Tehran alone boasted more than fifteen hundred cyber shops, which had exploded in popularity ever since Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997 and gave the fledgling Internet sector his blessing. The hard-line religious clerics continued to be wary. In 2001, they'd forced four hundred shops to close their doors for operating without proper business licenses, breaking Islamic laws and trafficking in "Western pollution." They'd insisted that the government deny anyone under the age of eighteen from entering the shops. But that just made the idea of an electronic periscope into the West all the more alluring, and Web traffic shot up faster than ever.
The bulletproof sedan eased off the main boulevard. Mohammed Jibril told his driver to drop him off at the Caspian Cyber Café on Enghelab Avenue, across from Tehran University. A moment later he logged on, and sent a half dozen cryptic e-mails. Next, he pulled up the home page for Harrods of London and quickly found what he needed. "Harrods Chocolate Batons with French Brandy — twelve individually wrapped milk chocolate batons filled with Harrods Fine Old French Brandy. Made from the finest Swiss chocolate. 100g." He hit the "buy now" button, typed in the appropriate FedEx shipping information, paid with a stolen credit card, and left as quickly as he came. Now all he could do was wait, and hope the messages arrived in time.
The eyes of the world were now on Jon Bennett.
A senior advisor to the president of the United States, Bennett was the chief architect of the administration's new Arab-Israeli peace plan. The front-page, top-of-the-fold New York Times profile the day before — Sunday, December 26 — had just dubbed him the new "point man for peace." The media was now tracking his every move and the stakes couldn't be higher.
The president was eager to shift the world's attention from war to peace, to rebuilding Iraq and expanding free markets and free elections in the Middle East. The Pentagon and CIA insisted the next battles lay in Syria and Iran. But the State Department and White House political team argued such moves would be a mistake. It was time to force the Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table, to nail down a peace treaty the way Jimmy Carter did with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at Camp David in '77, and the way Clinton tried to do with Barak and Arafat in the summer of 2000. "Blessed are the peacemakers," they reminded the president. And the president was listening.
Bennett wasn't so sure it was the right time, or that he was the right man. He hadn't asked to be named "point man for peace." He hadn't wanted the job. But the president insisted. He needed a deal, he needed it now, and Bennett couldn't say no.
At forty, Jonathan Meyers Bennett was one of the youngest and most successful deal makers on Wall Street, and a guy who had everything. An undergraduate degree from Georgetown. An MBA from Harvard. A thirty-eighth-floor office overlooking Central Park. A forest green Jaguar XJR, for business. A red Porsche turbo, for pleasure. A seven-figure salary, with options and bonuses. A seven-figure portfolio and retirement fund. A $1.5 million penthouse apartment in Greenwich Village near NYU, for which he'd paid cash. Closets full of Zegna suits. And Matt Damon good looks.
Few people on Wall Street knew much about this shadowy young man, but he was the talk of all the women in his office. Six feet tall with short dark hair and grayish green eyes, he had a picture-perfect smile after a fortune in dental work as a kid. He'd once been voted the office's "most eligible bachelor," but only part of that was true. He was a bachelor, but not all that eligible. He dated occasionally, but all his colleagues knew Bennett was married to his work, pure and simple. He typically worked twelve to fourteen hours a day, including Saturdays. None of that had changed at the White House, and now he was at his desk by ten-thirty on Sundays, too, watching Meet the Press and planning for the week ahead.
Before coming to Washington, Bennett was the senior VP and chief investment strategist for Global Strategix, Inc., one of the hottest firms on the Street. Part strategic research shop, part venture capital fund, GSX advised mutual and pension funds, as well as the Joshua Fund, which had $137 billion in assets under management. Over the years, GSX had become known as the financial industry's "AWACS" — its airborne warning and control system — able to alert money managers of trouble long before it arrived. GSX also had a reputation of finding "sure things," early investments in start-up ventures that hit the jackpot and paid off big. Most of the credit went to Bennett. He had a sixth sense for finding buried treasure, and he loved the hunt. The plaque on his desk said it all: "I'm not the richest man in the richest city in the richest country on the face of the globe in the history of mankind. But tomorrow is another day."
Then "tomorrow" threw him a curve ball. Suddenly he was off the Street, out of GSX, working for the White House, and on the Secretary of State's 757, headed for the Holy Land. It was surreal, to say the least, but the package came with one big incentive: the chance to cut a deal they'd be writing about for decades, and Bennett was determined to see it through.
"Hey there, Point Man, we there yet?"
Erin McCoy rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She put her seat back in its upright position and prepared for landing. A senior member of Bennett's team for the past several years, she'd been teasing him about the Times profile for the last twenty-four hours, and enjoying every minute of it. After takeoff from Andrews, she'd persuaded the pilot to welcome the entire American delegation, including "our own Jon Bennett, the esteemed point man for peace." She'd even plastered the interior of the plane with big red, white, and blue signs asking, "What's the point, man?"
"You kill me, McCoy."
"Don't tempt me, Jon." She smiled.
Bennett stared back out the window, trying to ignore how good McCoy looked in her ivory silk blouse and black wool suit. She really was beautiful, he thought. Why hadn't she become a model instead of joining the CIA? She was five-foot-ten with shoulder-length chestnut brown hair, lightly tanned skin, sparkling brown eyes, and a picture-perfect smile that hadn't required any dental work at all. All that, and she was ranked an "expert marksman" with six different kinds of weapons, including her favorite, a 9-mm Beretta, which she carried with her at all times. How could this girl still be single?
"Just give me a copy of the schedule, would you?" Bennett asked.
"You got it," said McCoy as she pulled out a few pages from her briefing book. "Point Man touches down at 0700 local time, Monday, December 27th; meets with the Palestinians; then the Israelis; saves the world; spends New Year's in Cancun; then cuts large check to beautiful deputy for saving his life, and his job."
Bennett fought hard not to give her the satisfaction of a smile. But it wasn't easy.
"I don't know what I'd do without you, McCoy," he said, snatching the pages from her hands. "But believe me, I'll think of something."
* * *
The Web master in London instantly recognized the e-mail address.
This was no order for chocolate. And she knew it was urgent. She quickly e-mailed a copy to Harrods' shipping clerk downstairs for immediate processing, then logged onto AOL and IM'd a gift shop on the Rock of Gibraltar.
Thirty minutes later, they sped along Highway One toward Jerusalem.
Through driving rains. Past huge green road signs in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Past the rusted shells of armored personnel carriers destroyed in the 1948 war. Past roads that would lead them, if they wanted, a few miles and a few thousand years away to ancient biblical towns like Jaffa and Bethlehem and Jericho.
Two blue-and-white Israeli police cars led the way. Two more brought up the rear. In between were a jet black Lincoln Town Car carrying the advance team from the embassy, two bulletproof Cadillac limousines, two black Chevy Suburbans carrying heavily armed agents from the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and four vans of reporters who would beam the historic words and images to a global audience desperate for some good news from the war-torn Middle East.
The first limousine — code-named Globe Trotter — carried the Secretary of State and his aides. Bennett and McCoy rode in the second limo — code-named Snapshot — joined by two old friends upon whose wisdom they now greatly counted. The first was Dmitri Galishnikov, the hard-charging CEO of Medexco, Israel's fastest-growing oil and gas company. The second was Dr. Ibrahim Sa'id, the soft-spoken, Harvard-educated chairman of PPG, the Palestinian Petroleum Group, which had made a fortune in the Gulf and now had everyone in the West Bank and Gaza buzzing with excitement.
"Miss Erin, I must say, you look like an angel — like my wife on our wedding day," Galishnikov boomed. "As for you, Point Man, you look like hell."
That got a laugh from everyone, even Bennett.
"Seriously, how are you feeling, Jonathan?" Sa'id asked. "We were worried about you. It's a miracle that you're alive, much less here."
It was a miracle. The last time they'd been together, they'd been under attack by Iraqi terrorists. Bennett took two AK-47 rounds at point-blank range. He'd practically bled to death before being airlifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Three weeks of recovery and rehab later, he was still not 100 percent.
"Good days and bad, you know." Bennett shrugged. "But it's good to see you two again."
"You, too, my friend," Sa'id agreed. "And your mother? How is she?"
McCoy watched Bennett shift uncomfortably.
"Well, she's not exactly thrilled about me coming back, that's for sure. Dad's heart attack, the funeral, what happened to me — she's been through a lot. But she's hanging in there. I'll head down to Orlando to see her for a few days when we get back."
"That's good." Sa'id smiled. "You're a good son, Jonathan."
Bennett wasn't so sure about that, but he said nothing.
An e-mail arrived in a small gift shop on Gibraltar.
It was quickly forwarded to a wood-carving shop in Gaza. Soon it drew the attention of an immaculately well-dressed young man by the name of Khalid al-Rashid. To anyone but him, the message would mean nothing, just an old family relative sending greetings for the holidays. But to the third most powerful man in Palestine, it could only mean one thing — his date with destiny had arrived.
The motorcade began to climb the foothills leading to Jerusalem.
That night, the U.S. delegation would take up two entire floors of the King David Hotel, overlooking Mount Zion, the stone walls of the Old City, and the Mount of Olives just beyond them. Tomorrow, they'd have a long working lunch with Israeli prime minister David Doron. But soon, they would actually be sitting in Gaza City, overlooking the stormy Mediterranean, drinking coffee and eating baklava with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, and his hand-chosen, silver-haired successor, Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Mazen.
It would be a long day. Diplomatic formalities and endless pleasantries would likely take until lunch. They'd eat lentil soup and lamb until they couldn't stuff down another scrap of pita. Then they'd get down to business.
At the heart of the proposed treaty was the discovery of black gold deep underneath the Mediterranean — a massive and spectacular tract of oil and natural gas off the coasts of Israel and Gaza that could offer unprecedented wealth for every Muslim, Christian, and Jew in Israel and Palestine. And the American message they were about to deliver was as daring as it was direct: both sides must put behind them centuries of bitter, violent hostilities to sign a serious peace agreement. Both sides must truly cooperate on drilling, pumping, refining, and shipping the newly found petroleum. Both sides must work together to develop a dynamic, new, integrated economy to take full advantage of this stunning opportunity. Then — and only then — the United States would help underwrite the billions of dollars of loan guarantees needed to turn the dream into reality.
Excerpted from The Last Days by Joel C. Rosenberg. Copyright © 2003 Joel C. Rosenberg. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
JOEL C. ROSENBERG is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author. He has worked for some of the world's most influential and provocative leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, and former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. A political columnist for World magazine, his work has been published in theWall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Jerusalem Post, and Policy Review. He lives in Israel and the United States with his wife and sons.
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This series of 5 books is an exciting, attention getting, thought provoking and fast reading novel of one view of the Bible prophecy in Ezekiel and Revelations. It is tied to the real world situation of today and possible events of tomorrow. Well written, with references cited, it will make any thinking person consider current events from a Biblical perspective. Any non-christian can read this and be entertained while examining the assertions in light of their own beleifs and the prophecy mentioned.
The Last Days grabs you by the throat on the first page and doesn't let go. The opening terrorist attack and gun battle/car chase is spell binding, pure and simple. So is the premise of a new hot war in the Middle East driven by the Iranians and Syrians (masterminded by a Russian fascist/ultranationalist). Fascinating are the prospect of natural gas and oil being discovered in the Holy Land, and the idea that all the terrorism and Middle East wars we see today are actually evidence of the biblical last days. But most interesting is Rosenberg's exploration of the nature of evil and how few people really understand what evil is. 'Suicide bombers and the groups and states that funded them -- they weren't misguided or misunderstood. They were controlled by evil. Pure evil. And evil couldn't be negotiated with. It could only be hunted down, captured and destroyed. Like a cancer or ebola. Ignore those possessed by evil and they'd kill you. Fast or slow, it didn't matter. Remove some but not all traces of the virus and it would kill you. Fast or slow, it was just a matter of time. Bennett could see it clearly now. To misunderstand the nature of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. For evil, unchecked, is the prelude to genocide.' (pg. 41) Well said, and much needed in this day and age when so many seem to be getting distracted away from the threat evil still poses to us. Rosenberg somehow manages to combine Clancy's early, better, heart-pounding technothrillers with a generous portion of Vince Flynn's political intrigue and a dash of Lahaye-like end times prophecy, and it works. I'd heard him on Limbaugh and Hannity last year and decided to read his first political thriller, The Last Jihad. It was excellent, and like Rush, I couldn't wait for the sequel. It was worth the wait. I haven't read David Baldacci's Split Second yet, but The Last Days may turn out to be the best political thriller of the year.
Was a GREAT book, can not put it down. Makes you think about the times we live in. Recommend the whole series.
Wow. A non-stop adrenaline rush into the Evil Empire of radical Islam. Grabs you from the very first sentence and never lets go. 'The Last Days' is a gutsy new breed of political thriller ¿- almost prophetically forecasting what you¿ll read in tomorrow¿s headlines. Joel C. Rosenberg is a rising new star on the American fiction scene.'
When you read this book, have your bible ready and think about the news and you will have a chill down your spine. This is very prophetical.
Joel Rosenberg has the pulse of our nation. He is very accurate with details and history. He can blend a fictional story into our present world situation letting the reader see a glimpse of what might be should our country continue down the present road!
I like Joel Rosenberg's books about the situation in the middle east.
The author knows whereof he speaks and it shows! Good fast read.
Just finished this novel. It's exciting with action and adventure. I like how he uses the character, Mordechai, to share a witness of faith. However, it would have been more exciting and intreguing if the bad guys had a few small victories. That would create some nail-biting if you ask me. Plot too predictable .
Reading this book was like reading Atlas Shrugged--history happening as I was reading. When the Secretary of State and Yassar Arafat are killed , the headlines proclaimed that 4 people had been killed in Bengahzi.
Suspense to the last drop!
Wow!! is all I can say. A thriller of the first magnitude. I read to sleep every night....needless to say, I didn't get much sleep with this book,