An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

by Julie Salamon


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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 U.S.-led international manhunt; the diplomatic wrangling between the United States, Egypt, Italy, and Israel; the long agonizing search for justice; and the inside 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316433112
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 04/21/2020
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 612,403
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Author and journalist Julie Salamon has written notable nonfiction books about show business, philanthropy, the Holocaust, the insanity defense, and modern medical care. Her ten previous works include several bestsellers and two novels for children. She was a reporter and critic for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Table of Contents

Principal Characters xiii

Part 1 The Achille Laura, October 7, 1985-October 22, 1985

Prologue 3

1 A Week Earlier… 6

2 The Ones Waiting Back Home 28

3 Big Guns 51

4 The Nightmare 63

5 Lies, Then Heartbreak 81

6 Cowboys and Terrorists 96

7 Fulminations 117

8 Machinations 133

9 Corpora Delicti 148

Part 2 Reckonings, 1985-2009

10 Ilsa's Wedding 161

11 Trials 176

12 Presenting … The Death of Klinghoffer 207

13 Finding Their Place in the Story 226

14 Sidelined by History 239

15 The Optimist 260

16 Operation Legacy 276

Coda 287

Acknowledgments 303

Notes and Sources 307

Bibliography 331

Index 335

What People are Saying About This

playwright, Oslo - J. T. Rogers

"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."

Author of Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel - Dan Ephron

“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.”

Author of Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the Most Audacious Hostage Rescue Mission i - Saul David

“A gripping, profoundly moving and insightful examination of the Achille Lauro tragedy from multiple perspectives.”

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