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This is a superbly researched and finely written account of the hunt for one of the most notorious of all Nazi criminals. Adolf Eichmann, the chief executive of Hitler's scheme for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", had managed to escape at the end of World War II and, with considerable ingenuity and by assuming various identities, continued to elude capture and finally settled in anonymity with his family in Argentina.

Neal Bascomb builds the story and the excitement with meticulous care, first of all outlining Eichmann's central role in the Holocaust. By recounting the wartime experiences of some of the participants in the subsequent hunt, he tells us enough about the terrible effects on them and on their families to remind us, in case anyone needs reminding, of the reasons why justice had to be done. We are also given an insight into the Holocaust as seen from Eichmann's point of view. In his memoirs, quoted by Bascomb, he describes himself as "a faithful, decent, correct, conscientious, and enthusiastic member of the SS ..... inspired solely by idealistic feelings towards the fatherland to which I had the honour of belonging". Chilling words in this context - and indeed, as we see later in the story, although he settled in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and did his ingenious best to live in obscurity under the alias of Ricardo Klement, he still managed to educate three of his sons Horst, Dieter and Klaus ("Nick") in his hateful philosophy, to the extent that we are left in little doubt that, given half a chance, they would gladly have followed in their father's footsteps.

The hunt is recounted in intricate and exciting detail, and we can only admire the determination, resourcefulness, painstaking planning and execution of the Mossad team who are charged with the extremely high-risk operation of capturing Eichmann, holding him in secret and flying him to Israel to face trial - all of this without attracting any attention and without harming a soul, apart from the obvious necessity of depriving the target of his unmerited liberty. In spite of the fact that we already know the outcome of the operation, as well as of the trial itself, the tension is built up brilliantly as the team try to think of everything, to plan for all the things that could possibly go wrong - which, winding up the suspense even further, some of them do.

One of the great assets of Bascomb's book is the way the reader gets to know and to feel involved with the individual members of the group - for example there is Zvi Aharoni, whose ingenuity and determination in tracking down Klement/Eichmann in Argentina ensures that the capture operation is finally given the go-ahead. Then there is Peter Malkin, the sensitive and resourceful strongman of the team who is allocated the vital task of grabbing Eichmann and bundling him into a car - clearly one thing that simply cannot be allowed to go wrong. Apart from the Mossad team, however, one of the most remarkable aspects of the tale is the courage and sheer nerve of some of the ordinary people - among them, at different points in the story, a young woman and a teenage boy - who are willing to risk their own necks to help uncover the true identity of the obscure Mr. Klement and pass the information to those who seek him.

From the moment of his capture onwards, Eichmann cuts a rather pathetic figure. At the trial, he argued in his defence that he never personally killed anyone. But I imagine that few readers will be shedding a sympathetic tear for him, any more than he did for the millions he despatched to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. In the end, and in stark contrast to the horrors of the Holocaust, the reader is left with a certain feeling of satisfaction - firstly at a story superbly well told by Neal Bascomb, and secondly because a key perpetrator of one of history's most monstrous crimes could finally be brought to justice.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 March 2010
Neal Bascomb does a wonderful job of working through the intricacies of the hunting, capture, and trip to Israel of Adolf Eichmann from his hiding place in Argentina. Various governments, agencies, and individuals had been hunting Eichmann since he vanished in Germany in 1945. He went into hiding within Germany and Austria, helped out by Nazi-sympathisers, and eventually made his way to Argentina - and safe haven - in 1950, where he took a new identity as Ricardo Klement. He brought his family over from Germany at about the same time, but always worked menial jobs.

Rumors floated around about Eichmann's whereabouts during the 1950's, placing him everywhere from Syria to Egypt to Argentina. He was eventually tracked down in the late 50's and the Israeli government made the decision to bring him to trial in Israel for his war crimes.

Bascomb's book is a vivid tale of this capture, by alternating between Eichmann's life in Argentina and the Mossad's work in tracking him down.
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on 22 September 2010
Hunting Eichmann is an edge of the seat tense adventure story, and made all the more exciting when you realize that this is a true account of the life and eventual death of a notorious nazi killer. There is no more greater satisfaction than seeing someone of great evil being made to pay for his crimes and few people in history have been guilty of more crimes than Adolf Eichmann. He was the operational manager of the genocide that saw the dispatch and murder of some six million jews during the second world war. In style and content this is a very easy book to read, absorb and accept, at no time are you bombarded with heavy historical facts that could detract from the readability and boys own story telling of the book. Eichmann escaped from Germany at the end of the war and soon made his way to Argentina where he lived in relative obscurity for a number of years. His wife and sons joined him at a later date and the family were always blind to criticism aimed at Eichmann. For such an evil man Adolf Eichmann presented as an unassuming figure, there is no doubt that part of this was due to the fact that he wished to blend into his new surroundings and not draw attention to this evil past. But he had a price on his head and a team of Mossad agents, when they confirmed that it was indeed Eichmann living in Buenos Aires, masterminded a simple yet ingenious plot to "grab" Eichmann, keep him hostage and then disguised as an El Al official smuggle him on board an Israeli jet bound for Tel Aviv. You can feel the tension from the moment Eichmann is taken and during his long flight back to receive the justice he so richly deserved, the journey home was filled with danger and the flight arrived in Tel Aviv with just moments of fuel to spare...Phew!!!
This is a book that deserves to be read by anyone who has a passing interest in the fate of Hitler's most ardent and fanatical supporters...or indeed if you just love a good, exciting and truthful adventure story, you will not be disappointed and indeed may give a little cheer when the El Al flight crew arrive safely with their precious cargo in Tel Aviv...read enjoy and be thankful this genocidal murderer was brought to justice
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on 1 June 2012
Initially I found this book something of a slow starter, and made the mistake of thinking i'd be plodding away with it for a good few weeks. Wrong. Bascomb does an excellent job of changing gears and taking the story another level. Brilliantly paced, I found this a gripping read - one of those books which leaves you promising yourself: 'just one more chapter, and I'll go to bed'. Well, I ended up doing that all the way to the end. I cannot praise this work, or the author, highly enough: a great job on a story that is almost unbelievable with its twists and turns, and one I shall be returning to regularly to re-read.
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on 11 July 2011
This well-written book details the entire operation to seek out, capture and bring to trial this notorious Nazi. The first 70 plus pages describe just how Eichmann evaded capture after the war and is helpful to paint the portrait of this man and set the importance of the later capture and trial. False leads and lucky escapes eventually were not enough to deter the hunters and after the capture there are even more interesting chapters on Eichman's reaction and seeming lack of remorse or guilt. A haunting picture of just how ordinary Eichman was. There are also a few pages of b&w photos in this edition.
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on 29 August 2011
I bought this book in the airport en-route to Florida just looking for something to read on the long flight. In summary it's a ripping yarn that I couldn't put down and it certainly helped to pass the time. The book starts with some background on Eichman and his role in the 'final solution' before outlining how he escaped capture after the war and eventual escape to Argentina. The final part of the book gives extensive detail on the Mossad operation to capture him and bring him to justice.
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on 24 November 2013
Hunting Eichmann focuses on the hunt for and capture of Eichmann, concentrating on the period from the end of the Second World War up until his arrival in Israel for trial. As such, it sketches over Eichmann's career within National Socialism and his activities during the war, and also his trial in Israel. In this sense, the book is very much about the search for him by various people and groups and the planning and execution of his capture by an Israeli Mossad team. Through extensive research, Bascomb produces a compelling narrative of how various events unfolded and all of the key personnel and their relationships and interactions. The result is a telling that has the feel of a novel, rather than a dry and detached history. In particular, the reader gets a sense of the personalities and politics at play, and the wider resonance of Eichmann for Holocaust survivors. Personally, I would have liked a little more detail on Eichmann's career and also the trial, but this is nonetheless a fascinating and well told read of how one of the most notorious war criminals of the twentieth century was brought to justice.
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on 25 July 2013
Remember watching bits of the trial in the 60's, and recall the pathetic figure of Eichmann, in his horn-rimmed glasses and his twitchy eye,
stuck in that glass cage in the court room.
Surely a poor wretch like him couldn't have put the seal of doom on nigh on 6 million Jews?

But true as it was he had escaped to Argentina via various hidey holes, and this book puts you right there in the driving seat, and even more
so with the cheeky plot to kidnap him, and whip him back to Israel, for some long awaited justice.

The writing style is right on the money, keeping you right there as the plans unfolded, with the tension building as the big day approaches.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2010
It's fifty years since Mossad agents kidnapped Adolph Eichmann, transported him to Israel, put him on trial and had him executed. The operation was contrary to international law, condemned by the United Nations and lied about by the Israeli UN representative, Golda Meir, who attributed it to individuals acting on their own initiative. In 1973 Mossad murdered a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillenhamer, mistakenly believing him to have been one of the terrorists who killed Israelis at the 1972 Olympic Games. In 1986 they kidnapped Mordechai Vanunu for revealing Israel's nuclear weapons programme and, earlier this year, are alleged to have murdered Mahmoud al-Mabhouth in Dubai. In Eichmann's case it was only in 2005 that Mossad finally admitted its role although several books had been written praising the operation with Hannah Arendt providing a rare dissenting voice which some have recently tried to discredit.

Eichmann's name only arose at Nuremberg a month into the trial but he was quickly identified as the chief executive of the extermination policy devised by Himmler, with Hitler's approval and enforced by Heidrich at the 1942 Wanasee Conference where Eichmann took the minutes. Eichmann argued that he favoured the deportation of Jews rather than their extermination and, as a servant of the State, he was only following orders. During the war he offered the Western Allies captive Jews in exchange for trucks and goods but, when there was no response, started shipping Hungarian Jews to the death camps. When Himmler stopped deportations Eichmann disobeyed orders - which undermined his main defence strategy. Given evidence from elsewhere it is unlikely that any member of the SS passively implemented the "Final Solution".

Having evaded capture Eichmann obtained a Red Cross humanitarian passport and emigrated from Italy to Argentina under the name Ricardo Klement. This information was passed on by the West German authorities to the American government in 1958 but not acted upon owing to the USA's primary concern with the Soviet Union and the absence of a policy of prosecuting ex-Nazis. When Eichmann brought his family to Argentina he did not change their surnames which was one of the reasons he was found. Mossad sent its agents to Argentina and had relatively little difficulty tracing him and placing him under surveillance. After he was abducted Eichmann was interrogated until he admitted his real identity. What quickly became evident was that Eichmann was a person lacking substance, eager to please and having little or no sense of personal morality. He was a functionary rather than an apparatchik.

Eichmann argued that he did not receive justice and, to some extent, this is true. The first rule of any fair judicial system is that no one should be a judge in their own cause but that's precisely what the Israeli State was. When David Ben-Gurion announced the captured of Eichmann to the Knesset he received a standing ovation. The purpose of Eichmann's trial was to legitimise Israeli claims to judge the Nazi regime which had brutally murdered fellow Jews, thus raising the credibility of Israel's claim for existence which was denied by Arab States. At a meeting of the Israeli cabinet called to consider the question of clemency, Foreign Minister, Golda Meir, noted the trial was in accordance with national law as had been the case in Poland with Rudolph Hoess and the Norwegians with Quisling. "Nobody said to them that they have to show some sort of supreme sensitivity. This is only being demanded of us, because the world has not yet become accustomed to seeing the Jewish people acting like all other nations." The difference was that Eichmann's crimes were not committed in Israel. His execution was an act of revenge making him the scapegoat for other Nazi criminals who escaped justice. The ethics and morality of what took place was a matter of real politique rather than justice.

A thread of illegal killings of former Nazis runs through Israel's history. In the immediate postwar period the Jewish terror group, Nakam, led by Abba Kovner, attacked Germans wherever they could find them. Innocence or guilt were side issues, although no-one should be in any doubt Eichmann was guilty as charged. He admitted he was guilty of having deported Jews but claimed he was not guilty in the legal sense as he was only following orders. In depositions to the court former Nazi colleagues disowned him. The verdict was never in doubt. Had he been tried at Nuremberg the sentence would probably have been the same but the verdict would not have carried the whiff of legalised murder. Eichmann claimed he was not a monster just someone doing his job. He was not mentally ill or psychopathic but followed a path lacking personal morality while believing it was ethical. Eichmann was not very intelligent and enjoyed bragging as a way of raising his status in the eyes of other people. He joined the SS as a career move not on ideological grounds.

Eichmann remains the only person executed under Israeli law. No one should feel any sympathy for Eichmann but anyone with an interest in upholding the rule of law against State sponsored terrorism must be concerned about the activity of intelligence services worldwide and the ethical basis of their activites. They are a challenge to civilised values but, then again, so was Adolph Eichmann. Well written, good bibliography, four stars.
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on 21 July 2013
I found this book very upsetting because I can't believe that a human being can feel this way about another human being. How can a man not feel sorrow and shame when he see's these poor people. When I see the pictures on TV I am ashamed to be a human being. Again I would recommend this book to those who don't let the contents spoil their lives. We are not all the same..
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