The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series)

The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series)

4.8 21
by Joel C. Rosenberg

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What if the Islamic State captured the most valuable hostage in history?
“The president of the United States . . . is missing.” With these words, New York Times journalist J. B. Collins, report-ing from the scene of a devastating attack by ISIS terrorists in Amman, Jordan, puts the entire world on high alert. The leaders of Israel and


What if the Islamic State captured the most valuable hostage in history?
“The president of the United States . . . is missing.” With these words, New York Times journalist J. B. Collins, report-ing from the scene of a devastating attack by ISIS terrorists in Amman, Jordan, puts the entire world on high alert. The leaders of Israel and Palestine are critically injured, Jordan’s king is fighting for his life, and the U.S. president is missing and presumed captured.

As the U.S. government faces a constitutional crisis and Jordan battles for its very existence, Collins must do his best to keep the world informed while working to convince the FBI that his stories are not responsible for the terror attack on the Jordanian capital. And ISIS still has chemical weapons . . .

Struggling to clear his name, Collins and the Secret Service try frantically to locate and res-cue the leader of the free world before ISIS’s threats become a catastrophic reality.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Islamic State wants to bring about the end of days.
New York Times correspondent J. B. Collins saw the horrific evidence with his own eyes. The brutal Islamist leader Abu Khalif has already demonstrated that he’s not afraid to unleash horrific destruction on his enemies. How many more will die before Khalif is stopped?

With the president of the United States missing, the eyes of the world are on Jordan. ISIS is on the move. Amman is in flames.

Brought into the inner circle of the king of Jordan, Collins is desperate to discover the fate of the president before it’s too late. But there’s a problem: someone is leaking secrets to ISIS. And Collins finds himself a prime suspect. Now he’s in a race to clear his own name in time to prevent the unthinkable. What he encounters along the way will change him forever. Deep in the tunnels beneath an ancient city, he will come face-to-face with the true nature of evil. Whether he can overcome it in time will determine the future of a nation . . . and the destiny of his own soul.

Product Details

Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
J. B. Collins Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

The First Hostage

A J.B. Collins Novel

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Joel C. Rosenberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0615-6



"The president of the United States ... is missing."

Even as the words came out of my mouth, I could hardly believe what I was saying. Neither could my editor.

There was a long pause.

"What do you mean, missing?" said the crackling, garbled voice on the other end of the line, on the other side of the world.

Allen MacDonald had worked at the New York Times for the better part of forty years. He'd been the foreign editor since I was in high school. For as long as I had been with the Times — which was now well over a decade — we'd worked together on all kinds of stories, from assassinations to terror attacks to full-blown wars. I was sure he had heard it all in this business ... until now.

"I mean missing, Allen. Gone. Lost. No one knows where he is, and all hell is breaking loose here," I said as I looked out over the devastation.

Amman's gorgeous new international airport was ablaze. Thick, black smoke darkened the midday sun. Bodies were everywhere. Soldiers. Policemen. Ground crew. And an untold number of jihadists in their signature black hoods, their cold, stiff hands still gripping Russian-made AK-47s. Anyone not already dead, myself included, was wearing a protective chem-bio suit, breathing through a gas mask, and praying the worst of the sarin gas attacks were over.

"But I–I don't understand," Allen stammered. "CNN is reporting Air Force One is safe. That it's already cleared Jordanian airspace. That it has a fighter escort."

"It's all true," I replied. "But the president isn't on it."

"You're sure?"


"There's no chance that you misheard."




"Fog of war?" he pressed.

"Forget it."

"Maybe somebody said it as a tactical diversion, to throw off ISIS or other enemies."

"No, Allen, listen to me — the president is not on that plane. I'm telling you he's missing, and people need to know."

"Collins, if I go with this story and you're wrong ..."

Allen didn't finish the sentence. But he didn't have to. I understood the consequences.

"I'm not wrong, Allen," I said. "This is solid."

There was another pause. Then he said, "Do you realize what this means?"

"No," I shot back. "I don't know what this means. And neither do you. I don't even know for sure if he's been captured or injured or ..." Now my voice trailed off.

"Or killed?" Allen asked.

"I'm not saying that."

"What, then? Missing and presumed dead?"

"No, no — listen to me. I'm giving you precisely what I know.

Nothing more. Nothing less."

"So where do you think he is?"

"I have no idea, Allen. No one does. But my sources were explicit.

Air Force One took off without the president."

"Okay, wait," Allen said. "I'm putting you on speaker. I'm going to record you. And Janie is here. She's going to type up everything you tell us."

I could hear some commotion as he set up a digital recorder, cleared space on his desk, and shouted for Mary Jane, his executive assistant, to bring her laptop into his office immediately. A moment later they were ready.

I took a deep breath, did my best to wipe some of the soot from my gas mask, and checked my grandfather's pocket watch. It was now 3:19 p.m. local time on Sunday, December 5.

"Okay, take this down," I began. "The president of the United States is missing. Stop. Air Force One took off from the Amman airport under a U.S. fighter jet escort shortly after 2:30 p.m. Stop. But President Harrison Taylor was not on the plane. Stop. U.S. and Jordanian security forces are presently engaged in a massive search-and-rescue effort in Jordan to find the president. Stop. But at the moment the president's whereabouts and safety are unknown. Stop."

My hands were trembling. My throat was dry. And my left arm was killing me. I'd been shot — grazed, really — above the elbow in a firefight back at the Al-Hummar Palace during the ISIS attack. It had been bleeding something fierce until Yael Katzir, the beautiful and mysterious Mossad agent who had assisted me in getting King Abdullah and his family to safety, had tied a tourniquet on it. That was just after we arrived at the airport, just before she boarded the chopper that was taking Prime Minister Daniel Lavi back to Israel for emergency medical treatment. I was going to need something for the pain, and soon, but I knew Allen required more details, so I kept going.

"The devastating chain of events began unfolding early Sunday afternoon in the northeast suburbs of Amman. Stop. Forces of the Islamic State launched a multiprong terrorist attack on the Israeli– Palestinian peace summit being held at Al-Hummar Palace. Stop. Just before the ceremony to sign a comprehensive peace treaty began, a Jordanian F-16 flying a combat air patrol fired an air-to-ground missile at the crowds gathered for the summit. Stop. The pilot of the F-16 then flew a suicide mission into the palace. Stop. Simultaneously, thousands of heavily armed Islamic State terrorists penetrated the grounds of the palace. Stop. Under heavy fire, security forces evacuated President Taylor, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Israeli prime minister Daniel Lavi, and Palestinian president Salim Mansour from the palace grounds. Stop. Lavi and Mansour were severely wounded and are being airlifted to Jerusalem and Ramallah, respectively. Stop. Witnesses saw a black, bulletproof Chevy Suburban driven by U.S. Secret Service agents whisking President Taylor away from the scene of the attacks. Stop. But that vehicle never reached the airport. Stop. Sources tell the Times the president learned the airport was under attack by ISIS terrorists and called the commander of Air Force One and ordered him to take off immediately to protect the plane and crew. Stop. The president reportedly told the pilots he would recall them once Jordanian military forces regained control of the airport grounds. Stop. However, at this moment, senior U.S. government officials say they do not know where the president is, nor can they confirm his safety. Stop. Neither the president nor his Secret Service detail is responding to calls. Stop."

I paused, in part to allow Janie to get it all down, but she was a pro and had had no trouble keeping pace.

"I'm with you," she said. "Keep going."

"I think that's it for now," I said. "We need to get that out there. I can call back and dictate more details of the attack in a few minutes."

"That's fine, but who are your sources, J. B.?" Allen asked.

"I can't say."

"J. B., you have to."

"Allen, I can't — not on an open line." "J. B., this isn't a request.

It's an order."

"I have to protect my sources. You know that."

"Obviously. I'm not saying we're going to include them in the story, but I have to know that the sources are solid and so is the story."

"Allen, come on; you're wasting time. You need to get this out immediately."

"J. B., listen to me."

"No, Allen, I —"

"James!" he suddenly shouted. I'd never heard him do it before. "I can't just go on your word. Not on this. The stakes are too high. A story like this puts lives in danger. And getting it wrong is only half the issue. I'm not saying you're wrong. I can hear in your voice that you believe it's true. And I'm inclined to believe you. But I have to answer to New York. And they're going to have the White House and Pentagon and Secret Service going crazy if we publish this story. So tell me what you know, or the story doesn't run."


Excerpted from The First Hostage by Joel C. Rosenberg. Copyright © 2015 Joel C. Rosenberg. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
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.

What People are saying about this

Lt. General (ret.) Jerry Boykin
Joel has an incredible ability to write both fiction and nonfiction regarding the realities of current events in the Mideast in a way that the reader senses that they are part of the plot and often on the front line.
Kathie Lee Gifford
He’s amazing. . . . He writes the greatest thrillers . . . with so much knowledge of that part of the world.
Steve Forbes
If there were a Forbes 400 list of great current novelists, Joel Rosenberg would be among the top ten.

Meet the Author

JOEL C. ROSENBERG is a New York Times bestselling author with more than 3 million copies sold among his ten novels (The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll, Dead Heat, The Twelfth Imam, The Tehran Initiative, Damascus Countdown, The Auschwitz Escape, and The Third Target), four nonfiction books (Epicenter, Inside the Revolution, Implosion, and The Invested Life), and digital short (Israel at War). A former communications strategist who lives in Israel and Washington, D.C., he has worked with some of the world’s most influential and provocative leaders, including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, Natan Sharansky, and Benjamin Netanyahu. A front-page Sunday New York Times profile called him a “force in the capital.” He has also been profiled by the Washington Times and the Jerusalem Post and has been interviewed on ABC’s Nightline, CNN Headline News, FOX News Channel, The History Channel, MSNBC, The Rush Limbaugh Show, and The Sean Hannity Show. You can follow him at or on Twitter @joelcrosenberg.

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The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Joel nails it again. I couldn't put this book down!!! Such a gifted writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished the first book in two days and this was the same. Can't wait for the next! Joel is an eschatologist and his books are written through the "lens of scripture". The actual events themselves are not prophetic per say but the big picture is. Very informative about end times prophecy both Christian and Islamic that he has woven into this thrilling fictional story. Worth the read if you want to understand what is happening in middle East!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Rosenberg has a way of providing facts; history and story line to novels. Thank you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great story by Joel Rosenberg
Anonymous 11 months ago
What an incredible read. Couldn't put it down. So in touch with current affairs. Wonderful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just purchased this book on Saturday. Absolutely could not put it down until I finished it. Want to really know how horribly vile and evil Isis is then read this book. I pray that our President will read it and the Good Sheperd will cause the blinders to fall off. Thank you Mr. Rosenberg for your thoughtful and prolific writing and may God continue to bless the USA and Israel! Don Higdon Englewood TN
1wildcat 5 months ago
A very exciting read. Continued where the last book left off. Full of action and intrigue. Good flow throughout. Rosenberg is an exciting author. Adding the Christian aspects to the story just adds to the pleasure in reading this thriller. Will there be another one? Could be....but read to see what you think.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Very exciting. Love this author
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I sat on pins and needles for a year after reading The Third Target—the first one in this intense two-book series—and I could not wait for the sequel. In the preface, Joel Rosenberg gives highlights to catch readers up to the cliffhanger sentence, “The president of the United States…is missing”, making it the opening sentence of this book. This series fits together like a glove. Reading both books, along with the escalating current events, gives an uncanny plausible scenario of what could happen as well as insight into the reasons why things are developing as they are. The main character, J.B. Collins, a New York Times correspondent is given the mission to immediately report the truth about rumors that ISIS captured chemical weapons in Syria. And, if true, what do they plan to do with them? Genocide? Who? When? Where? At the same time, there is breaking news of a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine to be signed in a few hours. If signed, will the treaty suppress ISIS? Or inflame their mission? The 430 page book covers a 24-hour period with lasting impact on the entire globe, not just the Middle East. The world is on high alert. As the lead characters work furiously to locate the President before the deadline, a disturbing video is released by the head of the Islamic State: “The warriors of the Islamic State are embarked on a brave and glorious mission to….restore this land and its people to the rightful rule of the caliphate and Sharia law.” In keeping with Rosenberg’s distinctive writing style, readers can see, hear, and smell the scenes as if there. The chapters are filled with fatal explosions, mysterious murders, and surprising conspiracies. All story lines are brought to closure in this fast-paced, page-turner book. Though this is the end of this series, the events could continue to develop in real-time news. (I received a complimentary copy from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest and objective review.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
I really have mixed emotions about this book. It is definitely intense from the first page and doesn’t give you a change to come up for air. One thing after another keeps happening and you wonder who you can trust and what will happen next. I had a bit an issue with the writing style, I had trouble connecting with the character and I wonder if it was due to style of writing. But, this is a book that will give you a lot to think about in light of the events in our world and will make you wonder what if this stuff really happened, it’s certainly possible. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only way that I can describe this book is edgy, relevant, and honestly thrilling. The tension, action, and emotion were layered in such a way to bring about a perfect balance. This is one read I will not soon forget.
Linda71 More than 1 year ago
Great book, and if it's possible, even better than the first one, which I thought was great, too. Wanted to read in one setting because it was hard to put down, but still read it as fast as possible. Disagree w/1 review: This book is not the end of the series, as the ending of the book alluded to. It'll be hard to wait for the next one.
VillaSyl More than 1 year ago
At the heart of Rosenberg’s latest political series The Third Target and The First Hostage, is a fictional New York Times reporter trying to understand what Apocalyptic Islam is and get ahead of the coming attacks. Now a front-page story in the New York Times, headlined, “U.S. Strategy Seeks To Avoid ISIS Prophecy,” shows how a real-life New York Times reporter is trying to understand Apocalyptic Islam and is reporting about a possible U.S. showdown with ISIS in the Syrian town of Dabiq—something ripped right out of Rosenberg’s novels. As The First Hostage unfolds, ISIS leaders are trying feverishly to draw the U.S. and the Western powers (“the forces of Rome”) into a bloody ground war in Syria. Why? In order to fulfill Islamic prophecies about an apocalyptic End Times battle in an obscure Syrian town called Dabiq and establishes a global Islamic kingdom or caliphate. The First Hostage is full of action, romance, hope and struggles with good and evil, this series reads like a movie waiting to happen. A well told story with substance, twists, a behind the scenes look on how international security is played out and seems all too real considering the world environment, I couldn’t put it down till I was finished. If political thrillers interest you then set some time aside in a comfy chair to enjoy this story. If you never tried one of Rosenberg’s stories and want to try something you haven’t read before I highly recommend this story. I also recommend Rosenberg’s other political thrillers, The Twelfth Imam, The Tehran Initiative and Damascus Countdown , imagined a scenario in which Iran’s Shia Muslim leaders, driven by their genocidal belief in End Times Islamic prophecies, built an arsenal of nuclear weapons and set into motion a plan to annihilate Israel and the United States. Received copy of book from the Tyndale BlogNetwork for my review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great bread and excellent ending to this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sherry More than 1 year ago
I just read his book in 5 1/2 hours. I knew from the first page that I couldn' t put it down until I was finished. Joel doesn't disappoint!
Blooming-with-Books More than 1 year ago
Page turning suspense... The First Hostage A J.B. Collins novel #2 By Joel C. Rosenberg Everything suddenly went wrong - the peace summit in Amman, Jordan, has been the target of a devastating attack that claimed the lives of many high ranking officials from both the region and the United States. Even more troubling the president of the United States is missing and presumed a high value hostage of ISIS! And New York Times journalist J.B. Collins finds himself on the front-lines of this deadly attack. But the potential destabilization of the region is but one possible outcome. Throw in a hostage situation with the American president at the mercy of ISIS and the whole world could become destabilized. Time is in short supply as ISIS makes its demands. But before any action can be taken a traitor must be found and dealt with. And the evidence takes an unexpected turn. This is a fast-paced book that will keep the reader in suspense as to the outcome. How does one find a hostage when the perpetrators have such vast resources and means at their disposal? This is a book that will appeal to many as it is a contemporary setting. ISIS is a daily news story and this book looks at a what-if scenario that is not unbelievable. This is the second J.B. Collins novel, but reading the first book The Third Target is not necessary to following this story. This is in fact the first book by Joel C. Rosenberg that I have ever read and I had no problem with following the story. Though I will admit I did order a copy of the first book (last night) as I enjoyed both this book and the writing of Mr. Rosenberg. Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
“The president of the United States … is missing.” And thus begins the action-packed “The First Hostage” by Joel C. Rosenberg, which picks up immediately following “The Third Target,” the series’ first installment. Injured foreign correspondent J.B. Collins is forced to report back to his foreign editor, Allen MacDonald, that U.S. President Harrison Taylor has gone missing immediately following the ISIS attack at a peace summit in Amman, Jordan. What follows is an intense novel as Collins joins forces with the King of Jordan to beat the timeline and not only locate the missing president, but also hunt down ISIS leader Abu Khalif, who has kidnapped Taylor, and stop further terrorist attacks. “The First Hostage” is a great piece of literature, and one that is quite timely for today’s news stories. Rosenberg offers an exciting geopolitical thriller that also briefly touches on the theme of the need for God, as Collins is faced with situation after situation that make him question not only his need for, but his desire for God and His protection. Rosenberg does a great job with this novel’s pacing — just as the action is getting too intense to take he slows it down with a scene featuring things like a war room conference or a character’s personal reflection on their life or the situation at hand. Although this book is fairly long, it is a very fast read that will draw you in until the very end. And I’m guessing, from how the book ends, that there will be another installment in this series. This book, thankfully, also contains a list of characters, which helps keep the different players straight, as well as a preface from “The Third Target” explaining what had just happened in that story for those of us who may have not read the first novel. Both of these items were quite helpful. A great and impactful read. I dare you to be able to put it down! Five stars out of five. Tyndale House Publishers provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.