The Red Prince"" is Ali Hassan Salameh, a Black September terrorist-leader (and later a trusted Yassir Arafat lieutenant)...

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THE QUEST FOR THE RED PRINCE

The Red Prince"" is Ali Hassan Salameh, a Black September terrorist-leader (and later a trusted Yassir Arafat lieutenant) who was finally killed by Israeli agents in 1979. Here, in a virtually undocumented, quasi-fictionalized narrative, Israeli journalist Haber and Israel/Parliament member Bar-Zohar (thriller-writer, Ben-Gurion biographer) tell Salameh's life story--starting with a long account (almost half the book) of the career of Salameh's father. Salameh Sr., b. 1912, came from ""the poorest and lowest class in Arab society""; he became a teenage anti-British, anti-Zionist terrorist, then ""one of the most active chieftains in central Palestine""; he pledged his loyalty to the charismatic Mufti of Jerusalem, joining him in WW II conspiracies with the Nazis (a planned attack on Tel Aviv); he naturally became a major target of the Haganah circa 1947--and, after surviving various assaults, died from Irgun mortar shells. Then, jumping ahead 20 years, we follow handsome young Salameh Jr.--from a reluctant PLO member in the early 1960s (urged on by his mother) to an eager convert after the Six Day War: obsessed with revenge, he became more active, was named Chief of Operations when Arafat came up with the idea of Black September, a terrorist group that ""would flatly deny any link with the PLO."" Devious, intelligent, elusive, he planned the Munich massacre and other terrors; ""the 1967 volunteer who had hoped to liberate his homeland had turned into a bloodthirsty killer. . .happily plunging from bloodbath to bloodbath."" So, with the grudging okay of Golda Meir, Israeli agents were dispatched to kill Salameh--succeeding in Beirut (where Salameh had turned respectable) after several failures. Here and there the authors refer to ""various sources,"" to Israeli Intelligence reports; but for the most part this is pophistory at its least persuasive--unreliable facts, flat prose, no attempts at insight--and for only the most unquestioning, undiscriminating reader of terrorist/spy fare.

Pub Date: June 17, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983