The Masada Complex
By Avraham Azrieli
CreateSpace, 2010, 438 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - August 1, 2012
This is a superb thriller with an unforgettable character in the beautiful, misguided, and misinformed Masada El-Tal and the notorious, devious, eye eyed Professor Flavian Silver. This is the fourth engaging Azrieli thriller that I read - after The Jerusalem Inception and The Jerusalem Assassin and Christmas for Joshua. I enjoyed all of them and recommend them highly. Azrieli is touted as being "as good as DeMille and Follett," and this is no overstatement.
The story is probably titled The Masada Complex for two reasons. First because its main character, Masada El-Tal was both physically and emotionally hurt when her brother was killed during an apparent terrorist attack on top of Israel's Masada Mountain and was imprisoned by the Israeli forces for her conduct during the attempted rescue. This embittered Masada, who was then a soldier, against the Israeli government. She left Israel and became a highly respected and prize winning newspaper reporter several decades after her brother's death. She used her prestige against Israel. Readers will find her to be very likable as a person, but not her views. She is manipulated and is complex.
Second, the concept of "a Masada complex" means that the person is willing to give up everything, even his or her life, for an ideal. The "Masada complex" idea is based on an historical event. Just under a thousand Jewish people, who were hiding on top of Masada Mountain in 73 CE, refused to surrender to Roman forces who wanted to capture them and sell them into slavery. All but a few committed suicide to avoid capture.
People debate whether this act, which is generally considered heroic, was actually heroic. Some people argue that they should not have given up their lives; it is better, they claim, to live as a slave than to be dead.
In a sense, each of the characters, without exception, in this excellent novel has "the Masada complex," including Masada El-Tal, Professor Silver, Rabbi Josh, and the Israeli military officials. The book has interesting twists and turns, is very suspenseful and enjoyable, and has a surprise ending.