The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series #2)

The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series #2)

by Joel C. Rosenberg
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The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series #2) by Joel C. Rosenberg

“The President of the United States is missing.”

New York Times bestselling author of thirteen international thrillers, Joel C. Rosenberg, explores this chilling scenario: What if the Islamic State captured the most valuable hostage in history?

Award-winning journalist J. B. Collins, reporting from the scene of a devastating attack by ISIS terrorists in Amman, Jordan, puts the entire world on high alert—the U.S. president is missing and presumed captured. With leaders of Israel and Palestine critically injured, and Jordan’s king fighting for his life, the allies are reeling and hopes for the peace process are dashed. 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 rescue the leader of the free world before ISIS’s threats become a catastrophic reality.

“One of the most entertaining and intriguing authors of international political thrillers in the country. . . . His novels are un-put-downable!” —Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief, Forbes magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496406194
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 10/01/2016
Series: J. B. Collins Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 460
Sales rank: 109,983
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.50(d)

About 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.

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. . . . One of the most entertaining and intriguing authors of international political thrillers in the country. . . . His novels are un-put-downable.

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The First Hostage (J. B. Collins Series) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 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 More than 1 year ago
Very exciting. Love this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year 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
Anonymous 7 months ago
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
If you’ve read any books by Joel Rosenberg you know the action begins on page 1 and ends on the last page – true again for this book! I just could not put it down as I just kept wanting to know what would happen next! JB Collins seems to always be in the thick of things – which gets him into a little (LOT) of trouble this time! And with his world crashing down around him, who can he trust and who can help get him out of his predicaments? This is an action-packed book with lots of casualties, blood and mayhem. But I appreciated that although the mission had to be accomplished, there was true grief about the lives lost and sorrow for the families. “The scope of the carnage just kept getting worse. The magnitude of the Islamic State’s evil was like nothing I had ever seen or heard of. I would have thought by this point in my career I had seen it all. But clearly I had not. Where was it all leading? What was coming next? How would it end? I had no idea. Suddenly the face of _____ came to my mind. I couldn’t believe he was dead. I thought of his kids. I wondered who would tell them and when. I wondered how they were going to bear the loss. They’d already been through so much.” I found this book to be one I could not put down as it seemed there was never a lull. I highly recommend it to understand the complexity and magnitude of ISIS and the evil occurring in the middle East. I received a copy of this book through No review was required but I am freely writing one. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Robbi44 More than 1 year ago
Although this is a thriller novel, the story line (plot) is quite plausible in this day and age. It is rather scary to think that this could one day be a reality. The characters are realistic enough to believe in as real people living and working in the Middle East. The main character, J. B. Collins, a New York Times correspondent, brings a roller coaster of emotions to the reader as he stretches himself against ISIS forces in Jordan. Not only is he fighting for the rights of others, but he has to clear his own name as well. What makes this story one the reader cannot put down is the author’s amazing knowledge and insight of this part of the world. He takes the reader inside places where we are normally not permitted. I definitely recommend this book to the action seekers!
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
I never read a book by Joel C. Rosenberg before but this will not be my last. He made this type of thriller very intense and understandable. I was able to understand the whole book. I loved the J.B. Collins character. I look forward to the next book in this series. The author did a great job as to what might happen if the president of the United States would be kidnapped. I received a copy of this book from for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own will.
HelenM0 More than 1 year ago
The First Hostage is book two in the J. B. Collins Novel series written by Joel C. Rosenberg. The story takes place in Amman, Jordan. J. B. Collins is a reporter for the New York Times is in Amman covering the Middle East peace summit when they come under attack. Collins helps get the King of Jordan and his family away safely. Some one is leaking information to ISIS about the summit and since Collins has warned others of possible ISIS attack, he is now the prime suspect. He is locked up and eventually is given the chance to call a friend. But this is all part of the plan. The President of the United States is missing. ISIS has captured the President of the United States and is threatening to behead him unless all Americans convert to Islam. With the information Collins's brother has given him, they are able to determine where the President is being held. Collins is taken with to help get the President back. This book is so full of action that it is very hard to put down. The story is modern day and so well written that at times I felt I was reading the daily news. The story contains violent war scenes that could be uncomfortable for some. The story would not be as good if the violence were left out. The books left me wondering if this could actually happen someday. Though there are a lot of characters in the story, they are well introduced and easy to follow along with. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read modern day political thrillers. I received a copy of this book from Book Club Network. I have chosen to write an honest review.
Maryar39 More than 1 year ago
“The First Hostage,” by Joel C. Rosenberg, is a fast-paced novel of suspense. While fiction, I feel like this story touches on a lot of modern day issues. It is filled with travel, terrorism and instability in the Middle East. Rosenberg seems to know the area and many of the issues quite well. J.B. Collins is back and he is once again in the middle of some huge troubles. The President of the United States is missing, and J.B. isn’t allowed to tell anyone. Every instinct in his reporter-mind is screaming at him to get this story, and more, out to his boss at the New York Times. But, J. B. is being detained in Jordan, is he a guest or a prisoner? He is walking a very fine line as he fights to discover the truth about ISIS, the President, and about his own safety. I enjoyed this quick moving story. It is clean, and contains some prayer, contemplation and a bit of Scripture. There is also some shooting, violence and blood, but it is about terrorism, so I would think that would be expected. It breaks my heart to think that some of the evil is this book is (quite probably) happening in our world today. Sadly, we don’t live in a place where the good guys always win and the bad guys get what they deserve. I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.
LanguageTCH More than 1 year ago
The First Hostage is a J.B. Collins Novel by New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels—Joel C. Rosenberg. A thrilling, non-stop action plot engages the reader from the opening paragraphs. New York Times correspondent J.B. Collins is thrust into a deadly conflict with the Islamic State. The Isis leader, Abu Khalif, launches a lethal attack upon Al-Hummar Palace in Amman, Jordan where many high-level and prominent leaders have gathered for a summit. Correspondent J.B. Collins is plunged into a fight to save the lives of key leaders, as well as his own. As they escape from the destruction, headed toward the airport, they discover the remains of the structure. Devastating as that is, they find out that Air Force One is gone and the president of the United States of America is missing. At first drawn into the trusted circle of the king of Jordan, later Collin finds that he is under suspicion of being a mole and isolated from all action and contact with the outside. He works to focus their attention on the real mole and later is reinstated into the circle that is trying to find the president. His skills as a journalist and his experience with weapons serve to maneuver him through the twists and turns of the unbelievably challenging and intense trials. Rosenberg’s characters are realistic and appealing; the plot is thrilling and relevant to today’s headlines; and his message—God’s everlasting love, forever drawing people to Him—is evident throughout. I highly recommend this superb novel to all fans of riveting suspense and pulse-accelerating action. I received this book through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
BusyProfessional More than 1 year ago
Sadly, lots of plot holes in this sequel. The first book was excellent - taut and well-thought-out. This one had so many deus ex machina plot points. The ending was the best part. Joel -- don't rush to print, make your books make sense
1wildcat More than 1 year 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 More than 1 year ago
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.