The Samson Option:

Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy

“Almost defies belief . . . a riveting tale of Israeli determination and cunning—and Washington’s indecision, ineptitude and acquiescence.”—Dallas Morning News

An investigation into Israel’s nuclear capabilities discloses information about the country’s rush toward nuclear status, its collaboration with South Africa and Iran, and its espionage activities.
  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (October 27, 1991)



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hersh’s investigation into Israel’s nuclear capabilities sparked a series of controversies when it appeared in hardcover, and spent three weeks on PW ‘s bestseller list.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ever since the early 1950s, Israel has had one military eye firmly fixed on atomic weapons as a means of salvation, using them primarily as a military threat for both offensive and defensive purposes. Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner, expounds on the steady but quiet growth of an Israeli nuclear industry that proved so successful that Israel was able to coerce several U.S. administrations into doing its bidding. He also explores in depth Israeli access to U.S. intelligence satellite technologies that resulted from inattention by Washington leaders as well as from the four years of insider spying by Jonathan Jay Pollard. He reveals that the Soviet Union has been targeted by Israeli nuclear warheads since the mid-1980s. Unlike several other recent expos es of Israeli intelligence apparatus (Ian Black and Benny Morris’s Israel’s Secret Wars , LJ 8/91, and Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s Dangerous Liaison , LJ 6/15/91), Hersh follows the threads of a specific intelligence focus while highlighting U.S. policies that ultimately ignore the very real presence of the Israeli nuclear arsenal. This incredibly well-written book should be in every collection.
– David Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

“Almost defies belief…a riveting tale of Israeli determination and cunning–and Washington’s indecision, ineptitude and acquiescence.”–Dallas Morning News
Amazon Reviews
This book documents the growth of the Israeli nuclear program …
This book documents the growth of the Israeli nuclear program. It shows a record of Deceit unmatched in the history of diplomacy. It’s a book that should not be ignored.
The Samson in the Samson option refers to the biblical text about Samson in which he chooses to destroy the Temple around him rather than defy the rules of God.
The Israeli nuclear program abounds in these kinds of equivalencies between Jewish martyrs and Israel’s right to a nuclear program no matter what other people in the world might think.
Samson Not Really Worried about Persia!
Seymour Hersh did a wonderful job of connecting well-researched historical facts into a necklace of painful truth. Of course we know the clues for a concealed underground nuclear program; it’s been done before, in Israel. Using archival and valid resources, Mr. Hirsh presents a compelling case. The truth shall set you free? I hope so. If we can scrape away the layers of religious dogma, ideological imperatives, and geopolitical manipulations, perhaps a new awareness can lead us closer toward peace and a click away from war. This book is a courageous achievement. In clear, concise, language, the author has provided the world with information that should be required reading.
“The Samson Option” is a detailed investigation into how Israel acquired nuclear weapons technology and ultimately, nuclear weapons.
The Israeli partnership with the French and later on South Africa on development of those weapons are examined along with some of the scientists involved.
The History of Israel’s nukes.

The Pollard spy case is the subject of one chapter in the book.

The relationship with Israel from an American foreign policy standpoint of administrations stretching from Eisenhower to Bush Sr. is examined. Not all U.S presidents had the same view of Israel’s nuclear pursuit. None were willing to admit knowledge of the program or address it publicly. It was considered better to be insulated from the issue or at least ignorant of it.

The Israeli lobby and it’s financial contributions to presidents from Truman on was discussed. LBJ was definitely not adverse to accepting private,personal cash contributions from anyone.

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