Korn has written a fast-paced and absorbing account of the murder of two American diplomats held hostage in the Saudi embassy in Khartoum in 1973. This is a narrative, plain and simple, but it has two motifs. The first is the character and intellectual formation of that type of foreign service officer the author calls Arabist. Unintentionally, perhaps, the author has sketched a not entirely flattering portrait. The second theme is that of antiterrorist policy. In Korn's view the United States government rigidly, even callously, pursued a policy of not compromising with terrorists. Yet it failed to do enough afterward to make the perpetrators pay for their crimes. The author describes the rather different policy of Israelis, an offstage presence here, who seem to negotiate when necessary and avenge when possible. Three of the four key leaders of the Black September group, which masterminded the operation fell to their bullets and bombs; the fourth died at the hands of fellow Palestinians.
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