|By the Rivers of Babylon
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Two Concorde jets take off from Lod Airport in Israel for a U.N. conference that will finally bring peace to the Middle East. Covered by F-14 fighters and accompanied by security men, the planes carry warriors, pacifist, enemies, dignitaries - and a bomb! Forced to crash-land, the men and women of the peace mission make a desperate life or death stand against Palestinian commandos.
- Fantastic book
I read this the year it came out, and I absolutely loved it. Some reviewers say you have to suspend reality, but maybe that's because of the passage of time and the political realities which have changed since then. But I really loved it. It was the only Demille book I read for a decade until Plum Island a couple of years ago. I don't much care about the development of 'writing style', I care about an entertaining read, and I think By The Rivers of Babylon is a much better read than Plum Island....more info
This is the first book by Nelson DeMille that I have ever read, but it won't be the last. I'll admit I'm a sucker for a paperback that I can throw in my bag and break out here and there for a few quick chapters. I can tell you that this book definitely stay in my bag long. The action was adequately paced and the character development was well established (something often lacking in mass market paperbacks). For a paperback filled with political themes and published in 1978 this book still rings true and is very enjoyable today. ...more info
- Demille Does It Again
This book could easily be a blockbuster movie. I used to think there was no book by Demille that was as good as The Charm School but this book is as exciting and good. Thank you Nelson Demille....keep 'em coming....more info
My Aunt recomended this author and instructed me to start with this first book. I was impressed with the historical acuracy as well as the detailed accounts of weapons used in battle. My favorite characters are always snipers, and there was an acurate one in this story. This story combines love, war and life to keep you reading. The best part is, this story could be re-written with today's dates and still be just as acurate....more info
- Good, but not DeMille's best
One of his earlier novels, packed with non-stop action and charismatic characters, but lacking the great humor and dialogues of later works like Night Fall and Plum Island....more info
- A Must Read
I have read all of Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, James W. Huston, John Grisham and most of Michael Connelly, and DeMille's Books and " By The Rivers Of Babylon " is in a group of one of my favorites. The book is well written, fast paced to the point I didn't put it down, and you felt so engrossed in the characters. ...more info
Started promising, but quickly declined into to utterly unbelievable action sequences with no basis in reality. I tried my best to suspend disbelief for sake of the story, but it was just not worth the outcome. The heroine was so strange and conflicted that she actually became an annoying distraction. The `hero' was anything but. By the time the book was in the last pages I felt I was reading an anti Arab propaganda pamphlet. All that could have been forgiven had the novel not gone off on such unrealistic tactical and dramatic flights of fancy. It became a cartoon by the end. The author had written much better novels since this effort....more info
- Baby-LoAn this one out
Good action tale of terrorist proportions. You can tell it's an earlier piece for DeMille because it lacks 'meat' to the story but is another good book by DeMille....more info
- Hijacked Concorde crashes in ancient Babylon...
Nelson Demille's "By the Rivers of Babylon" is a military thriller from the late 1970's. The basic premise involves an Israeli peace delegation flying to New York on two Concordes, only to be hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. When they crash land on the ancient site of Babylon, the small group of men and women, with only a handful of weapons, but a strategic defensive advantage, makes a stand against a superior force.
Aside from some of the obvious dating due to historical changes during the past twenty-five years, this book works surprisingly well. Of course, a plane load of Israelis crashing in Iraq during the past few years would have met a different fate.
Several things make this story work: The first is the pacing and orchestration of the action scenes. Demille proves adept and building action, juggling multiple sequences and moving us forward on this roller coaster ride. For example, when they first crash, they have only a small contingent of security men, but one happens to have an M-14 with a starlight scope, and he is able to become an effective sniper to hold off the initial advance. But the stakes are always high, and with each attack the defenders are pushed closer to the brink.
Another thing that works is that the characters are strong enough to hold our interest. Most are not fully developed, but the two key players, Jacob Hausner and Miriam Bernstein, are dynamic and create an emotional core. Hausner is the head of El Al airline security who must deal with his own sense of failure, internal power struggles, and desire to eradicate his nemesis, Ahmed Rish. Rish, the leader of the terrorists, is the brilliant but insane leader of the Palestinians.
Miriam Bernstein is one of the leaders of the Peace Delegation, who undergoes significant changes in her relationships and viewpoints on the peace process.
Along the way, there are various heroes who rise to the occasion, such as the pilot, David Becker, the intelligence man, Isaac Burg, the American operative, McClure, General Dobkin, F-14 pilot Teddy Laskov and a host of others.
It's definitely a pot boiler that you won't want to put down. ...more info
- Fiction it is!
Good thing this was not the first book I read by this author. This is his first attempt at writing in 1978 and he fails. It is an anti-Arab pro-Israel concoction with little brain power on both sides. The situation is supposed to resemble Masada, but even a six year old could figure that the besieged group would be out of drinking water after 4 days, and then go get them. But no, there is a lot of senseless slaughter, and then the good guys win. The characters are underdeveloped, the heroine is a slut who preaches morals, and the situation never changes page after page. You can skip this book. I recommend reading "The Charm School" by this author if you are interested in the machinations of the Evil Empire. ...more info
- Fast paced, action filled and hopefully not timeless
DeMille became one of my favorite authors with just one book, The Gold Goast, and oddly enough, that book is quite a bit different from the main genre of the rest of his work which tends to be more military/police/spy type thrillers. After reading several of his recent books, I finally got a chance to go back many years and read this one.
I'll get my one main complaint out of the way, it's the fact that the book has a plethora of characters and I wasn't ever really sure who I was rooting for specifically. As it turns out, the protagonist if you will, is probably the group as a whole, they banded together and survived as a group (even though some of the characters were lost). I guess I can accept that, although I prefer the strong male leads that dominate all the subsequent works by DeMille that I've read.
Even though written nearly three decades ago, not much has changed in world politics and this novel could probably take place in reality tomorrow with only a few minor changes. I often wonder if world security forces go through fiction, after all, Tom Clancy wrote about a pilot flying a jet plane into the White House and later when it was tried for real, everyone acted like "nobody could have ever imagined that". In any case, this book and DeMille's The Lions Game, both have airplanes being terrorized in different and unique ways, I hope someone is taking notice.
As for the why I give this book a strong recommendation, and why I'm sticking with five stars in spite of my complaint, it's a page turner, fast paced and well written, it has military science, love, war, hate and a whole lot more.
- The ever-flowing rivers....
Not bad for a first effort. I've read subsequent novels by DeMille and he's improved. His dialogue, for example, is now much wittier.
I was enthralled by the first half of the book, the set-up. It's a very intriguing situation. But the last half was too filled with clich¨¦d Hollywood cliffhanger (literally, at one point) melodramatic sequences. And the action became repetitious. During the last attack, the Israelis keep firing at the thirty Arabs who are attacking, even tho they are low on ammo. No mention is made of any hits. Why waste precious ammo if you're not hitting anyone? And if you are, the 30 Arabs would disappear pretty quickly. I think this is just sloppy action writing.
In one way, DeMille acts at though he writing a H'wood script, in that the plot builds up to non-stop action with attempted hair-raising scenes. But in another way, he is much too verbose to be a script writer, since the descriptions in a script must be lean and mean. Here, DeMille seems to think you should never say in a sentence what can be said in a paragraph. And in a script, there can be no throw-away dialogue.
But again, not bad. And the later novels are much better....more info
- DeMille is the master of the game
THE PLOT Peace in the Middle East is almost assured and two concordes are flying to New York with delegates for the negotiations. Terrorists against the peace conference plant bombs on board and try to take them hostage. After destroying one plane and killing all on board, the plane is forced to land near Babylong but at the last minute manages to get the hostages to the top of a small hill which they attempt to defend against the hostages through several days of sorties, knowing that the military probably doesn't know where they are and therefore can't swoop in and rescue them.
WHAT I LIKED Long before there was Clancy, there was De Mille. This book takes the international realm and stands it on its ear -- the relations between the characters on both sides of the peace conference who are forced to work together to fight the hostages are brought to the surface in excruciating detail. The battle tactics are first-rate, the writing is almost perfect, and the story is superb as the "hostages" fight in small groups with every weapon they have -- gas bombs from the plane's fuel tanks, sounds from a war movie blasted over speakers to simulate larger weaponry, etc.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE The ending is a little over-the-top, resembling a scene from a Die Hard movie more than keeping with the slightly more realistic tone of the rest of the book. As well, there is a meeting between the hostage-leaders and the terrorist-leader that is absolutely surreal. The likelihood of both parties treating it like a military battle with truces, etc., is virtually nil but it was at least interesting.
At the end, there was a lot less fewer characters left and that helped the plotting speed-up. Up until then, there were too many small sub-plots -- not all of which were necessary. Some were good, and necessary to flesh out the experience, but not all of them.
OVERALL RATING A good solid book for the international mystery field, and if it wasn't for the fact that De Mille published long before Clancy, it would be appropriate to say "Move over, Tom!". But, since Clancy's marketing machine is bigger, suffice it to say that it is better than anything Clancy has ever produced in the same field. Give it a 4.5 out of 5.0....more info
- His First is His Worst
I consider Nelson Demille one of my favorite authors, so I have somewhat a bias toward giving him a bad review. I'm not even sure I would give this 3 stars though if his name wasn't on the cover. His John Corey books were GREAT, my favorite character in any book hands down, and Word of Honor is one of the best books I've read yet. So even after reading the mixed reviews I dove into it expecting a great read but was soon dissapointed to find that the book reads like a cheesy movie script. The plot advances so quickly, unrealistically, and seemly without neccesary background information at points it sometimes makes you feel as if you missed something(i.e. Hausners divine intervention suddenly knowing the planes whereabouts). The love stories in the book contain such terrible dialogue it's annoying to read. In all his other books you grow to love or hate the characters, they usually have great depth and realism. In this book I hated most of the characters because I found the dialogue cheesy and unreal. I would constantly ask myself "who would ever say this crap, or act this way?". The book was a dissapointment coming from such a great author and if it were his most recent work I would have thought this guy completely lost his touch. Albeit the book did have a few catching moments, due to a decent plot, they were few and poorly written, nothing like I have come to expect in his following works. The positive side of this book was discovering how much Nelson Demille has matured and what a great and entertaining writer he has become. His first is without a doubt his worst and the ONLY one of his works I would not reccomend. Sorry Nelson....more info
- Love, War, History--Another Demille Thriller
Nelson Demille consistently surprises me with his research, knowledge and laser paced action in his books. He just has a way of drawing me in to his characters with their transitional dialouge. I want to know them, care about them, and of course despise horrific villains. And as for action adventures, well, let's just say he moves a plot around like a Chinese acrobat with an inner ear problem!
In "By The Rivers of Babylon", we meet an extensive group of characters who begin a journey of peace for the Middleast. Two Concordes take off from Lod airport. A mysterious Lear jet invades their flying space. Not known to the pilots and passengers is the fact that a rebel Palestinian guerilla, Rish , has had bombs planted in the tails of each bird as they were being built a year before. Leading to an exciting kidnapping and forced landing.
What I enjoyed the most in this compelling book were the strategies of war. How different eras as well as nations handled nightime invasions for example. And how one must do anything to survive--anything. This seemed to be a pre-cursor to "The Lions Game" by DeMille. Similar themes, however, I was intrigued with the setting of Babylon. The history involved, the colorful descriptions of the Euphrates river, how Mesopatamia had been a glorious city and it's ironic downfall.
Highly recommended reading for the adventure lover.
Your interest & comment votes are appreciated--CDS...more info
- Solid Early Work
If you are a fan of military fiction this is the book for you. I could not tell that Demille was an early author in this book at all. I learned a great deal about Israel that I didn't know in this novel. This was not my favorite Demille book, but it is solid as usual....more info
- An expected success from DeMille
I am currently on page 245 out of 422 in this book and I already think that it is wonderful. Just recently have I discovered Nelson DeMille and this is the fourth one of his novels I'm reading. He writes wonderful thrillers and this is no exception.
It begins with talks of a peace conference for the Israeli government in New York. But a terrorist has different ideas and hijacks the two Concordes on their way to New York and forces them to some ruins near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what was Babylon, once again placing Jews in Babylonian captivity. Now, this small band of politicians, delegates and a few security officers with mostly small handguns have to defend a hill(resembling Masada) against a highly trained group of heavily armed Arab terrorists.
Since I'm not totally done with this book, I can't really say anything else about it. In fact, I don't even know why I'm writing this right now. I am at(what I think is) the beginning of the climatic scene and big battle.
I suggest this book strongly and hope that you find it as thrilling as I am.
UPDATE: I finished the book long ago and have since read it four times. I suggest this book more strongly now than I ever have....more info
- Hard to believe it was a first novel.
Superbly crafted with many fully developed characters (good and bad) filled with tense drama and unending suspense...and an ending with a satisfying resolution as not every good guy remains standing.
Some suspension of disbelief may be necessary, but not a ton.
In times of extreme duress against impossible odds (especially in battle) many times men have risen to incredible heights. It is this aspect of the human spirit that is central to "By The Rivers Of Babylon" and makes it so credible. It is the story peopled with unlikely heroes who surprise even themselves as they rise to the occasion.
I was drawn to the protagonists and their indomital vitality under pressure. It was refreshing that all were flawed, but none beyond redemption.
The villians were exceedingly well drawn and particularly abhorrent.
A most exciting and fulfilling reading experience.
- Not as good as his other stuff
Usually Nelson's books are fast paced and riviting, but this one not so much. I found myself skimming a lot of it, as the descriptions of dead cities was just overdone. It was an ok read but I would recommend some of his other stuff first....more info
- Precursor to Great Things
Though not his best (nor his worst) Nelson DeMille's structure and writing for his best books (Gold Coast, Charm School, Plum Island) is presaged here. DeMille's best traits are developing and enriching his books with realistic characters as well as a knack for storytelling - both of which are done well....more info
- Iraq, Iran, Palestine, the Middle East ... will the conflict ever end?
Built around the interminable Arab/Israeli conflict in the Middle East, the plot is simply enough told. Two Concorde jets, packed with a small army of politicians, diplomats, security agents and a typical administrative entourage take off from Lod Airport in Israel. Their destination is a UN peace conference that many believe will lead to a final and lasting peace in the Middle East. But there are also some so filled with hatred that they will do almost anything to sabotage the conference and ensure that the wish for peace becomes a house of cards collapsing in a hail of bullets and blood. In a cunning plan that stretches out years in the planning, a team of terrorists blow up one of the jets and skyjack the other forcing it to land in the desert along the Euphrates River.
"By the Rivers of Babylon" tells a thrilling tale of survival and the guerilla-like commando tactics of the heroic passengers of the Concorde as they struggle desperately against their attackers and attempt against all odds to reach the outside world with news of their plight in the Babylonian desert. In his first novel, DeMille makes grand statements about the nature of courage and heroism under fire, sacrifice, loyalty, altruism and love. He has crafted interesting characters such as Jacob Hausner, the security officer who cannot forgive himself for his careless oversight many years earlier that allowed the terrorists access to the Concorde's inner workings. We witness Miriam Bernstein, Golda Meir's young and beautiful hand-picked political prot¨¦g¨¦ evolve away from her roots as a far left wing advocate of peace at almost any cost.
"By the Rivers of Babylon" is undoubtedly a page-turner but equally clearly it is an early work that simply doesn't measure up to his later thrillers and his ability to craft much, much deeper and more complex, multi-faceted characters such as John Corey and Kate Mayfield. Nor does the plot move along with the same speed and, by my measure, suffered from a certain repetitive sameness that would have been eliminated with some judicious editing to shorten the novel.
But that said, the techno-thriller world would be a poorer place without the benefit of "By the Rivers of Babylon". Recommended.
Paul Weiss...more info
- Started Out Slow, Later I Grew More Interested
At first the book could not keep me interested; after reading about a third of the book I started catching the DeMille fever. The book increasingly gripped my interest until the end. DeMille's style is among my favorites. This book lacks the sleekness of his later works and is at times confusing to follow. I felt it was still a good read. DeMille fans add a star....more info
- As timely today as when written 30 years ago.
Demille's "By the Rivers of Babylon" is an excellent read even though its setting is more than 30 years ago. It is as germane to today's world as it was 30 years ago. It is a story of heroism, courage, evil, mendacity, love and savagery. Perhaps today we can better appreciate the savagery since our lives are now daily inundated with reminders of the same. The book could easily have been written yesterday save the sensibilities of the characters that have long since passed us by.
In that regard, the book is a refreshing reminder of a world where sacrifice, honor, integrity and duty meant something more than mere words. And though that world was crumbling even then against the onslaught of modernity, on a hill on the rivers of Babylon 50 members of a peace delegation waylaid on their way to New York found themselves fighting for their lives against terrorist savages bent on their destruction.
The dynamics between members of the peace delegation and the transformations that took place in order to survive have the ring of verisimilitude. This book is quite different from Demille's other offerings. I'm not sure I can directly compare it to any of his other books other than the quality of the writing and the grip it exerts on the reader from beginning to end.
Whether you are a Demille fan or not, this book should satisfy you....more info
- Number 1 On A Scale of 1 to 10!
One of my favorite all time books. An excellent plot with oustanding characters. After being forced to land by Arab terrorists an Israeli peace delegation is forced to survive unsurmountable odds. One jet full of the peace conference attendees is exploded in midair. The second jet then lands in Iraq. From there on out the arts of survival begins. The Israeli delegation fights for their very lives. It is a tremendous battle against tremendous odds. Some of the tactics employed by the Israelis are very good. The Isrealis show that the strong will indeed survive. An outstanding book by DeMille.Buy this book and keep it under lock and key....more info
- By the Rivers of Babylon
Demille lovingly describes the minds and hearts of the people of Israel both the modern and ancient....more info