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The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Shipby James Scott
Synopses & Reviews
On June 8, 1967, as war raged between Israel and its neighbors, an American spy ship, the U.S.S. Liberty, eavesdropped on communications off the coast of Egypt. When Israeli fighter jets flew overhead, the Liberty's crew assumed that the ship's identifying markings and American flag would be visible to the pilots in the clear skies above. After several passes over a period of hours, the jets suddenly opened fire and began strafing and napalming the deck of the Liberty, which had minimal defenses. When the air attack ended, Israeli torpedo boats appeared and scored a direct hit. By the time the assault was over, 34 crewmen had been killed and 171-two-thirds of the crew-seriously injured. Only heroic efforts by the crew saved the ship from sinking.
Back in Washington, news of the attack on the Liberty was received with a mixture of shock and outrage. Many in the Pentagon and in Congress demanded that Israel be held accountable for the unprovoked attack in international waters. The Johnson administration initially responded by threatening Israel but soon softened its attitude. Israel's stunning victory in the Six-Day War, as it became known, was a source of pride to many American Jews, and their support was crucial to an administration mired in an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam. With the death toll mounting daily in Vietnam, the attack on the Liberty was pushed to the back pages of the nation's newspapers and ultimately all but forgotten.
James Scott is a journalist and the son of a surviving Liberty officer. In this riveting book, he recounts the story of the horrifying attack and the tremendous impact it had on the lives of the crew. He puts the attack in context, showing how political considerations trumped the demands for justice from the survivors and their supporters in the military and in Congress. Drawing on new interviews and recently declassified documents, he demonstrates that Israel's initial insistence that the attack was a mistake caused by misidentification of the ship is implausible.
Scott documents, for the first time, the fact that the ship was correctly identified by at least one of the pilots prior to the attacks. His descriptions of the crew under fire and their frantic work to save the ship are dramatic and unforgettable. Scott takes readers into the conference rooms at the White House where the most senior officials in the government debated how to respond to the attack and then eventually devised a plan to protect Israel from public outrage.
The Attack on the Liberty is the finest account yet of this tragedy and a remarkable tale of men under fire in an incident that remains bitterly disputed after more than forty years.
and#8226; Notorious incident: In 1967 the spy ship USS andlt;Iandgt;Liberty andlt;/Iandgt; was attacked by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats in international waters during the Six-Day War. Thirty-four sailors were killed and more than 170 wounded, many critically. Israel claimed mistaken identity, which a U.S. naval court of inquiry confirmed, but that explanation is contradicted by the facts of the case.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8226; Based on new revelations: James Scott has interviewed andlt;Iandgt;Liberty andlt;/Iandgt; survivors, senior U.S. political and intelligence officials, and examined newly declassified documents in Israel and the United States to write this comprehensive, dramatic account. He reveals that officers in Israeland#8217;s chain of command were aware of the andlt;Iandgt;Libertyand#8217;andlt;/Iandgt; s identity and shows how events in Vietnam prompted the American government to deemphasize the attack despite widespread disbelief of Israeland#8217;s story.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#8226; The son of an attack survivor: Scottand#8217;s father, John, was an officer and engineer aboard the andlt;Iandgt;Liberty andlt;/Iandgt; who was awarded the Silver Star for helping to save the ship from sinking.
About the Author
James Scott is an investigative reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, with an extensive background in covering the military, including assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has won numerous awards, including the McClatchy Co. President's Award and the Judson Chapman Award for Community Service in Journalism, and was named Journalist of the Year in 2003 by the South Carolina Press Association. He was a 2007 Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
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