By the Rivers of Babylon Summary & Study Guide

Nelson Demille
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By the Rivers of Babylon Summary & Study Guide Description

By the Rivers of Babylon Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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By the Rivers of Babylon, by Nelson DeMille, is the account of a mission of peace gone horribly wrong. A delegation from Israel is hijacked by terrorists set against any form of peace in the Middle East. Crash landing in Babylon, the passengers and crew mount a defense against the group of Arabs that wish to hold them hostage to stop the peace meeting. Escaping in the end, the peace delegation hopes that peace can still be established.

Two Concordes from Israel set out for New York, to take part in a historical meeting, with the hopes of establishing peace in the Middle East after centuries of unrest. Unbeknownst to them, there are bombs with transmitters in the tail section of each plane, placed there during construction more than a year earlier. Ahmed Rish, an Iraqi terrorist, has been planning to destroy the mission of peace, and hold the parties on both planes hostage in Babylon. The planes leave Lod International Airport with no problems, under military escort, led by Teddy Lascov, a brigadier general of the Israeli Air Force. Not long into the flight, another plane appears on the radar, refusing to respond to repeated calls from the air force. Lascov prepares to shoot the plane down, but hesitates, thinking about his lover Miriam on board Concorde 02. She had requested at a pre-flight meeting that everyone use caution if there were signs of trouble. Miriam did not think it would be a good idea to start the process of peace with an act of aggression. Teddy waits too long, and no longer has a clear shot with the weapons he is carrying. If he had the 20mm cannons on board he might have been able to take the plane down, but he had left them off on the advice of Tom Richardson and American Colonel and attaché.

Communication begins between the concordes and the smaller plane. Ahmed Rish is aboard the small plane, his voice recognized by Jacob Hausner, who has had dealings with Rish in the past. He swears to kill him. Rish in turn promises to kill Hausner. Rish informs the two aircraft of the bombs on board, and instructs them to follow his plane. The pilot of El Al 01 decides to take evasive action, and Rish detonates the bomb. Concorde 02 follows, but at the last minute takes evasive action on the ground. Rish detonates the bomb in their tail section, but the plane is already on the ground, and they wind up on a hilltop, an ancient citadel covered in the sands of time.

The members of the Israeli party set up as much of a defensive position as they can with their limited experience and weapons. Many lives are lost over the course of the stand off, which lasts for a few days, but feels like years. While the peace delegates wait on the mountaintop, Laskov decides to construct a hoax to convince the Prime Minister that the planes are in Babylon. He is halted at the last minute by news from Iraq that the planes have indeed been found. A rescue mission is underway immediately, but due to the strong winds, the Hamseen, there is trouble reaching the hostages as quickly as warranted. A final desperate battle takes place on the mountaintop. The Concorde 02, Wings of Emmanuel, regains the use of its auxiliary power unit and in a last attempt for freedom, drives the aircraft off the sand covered citadel into the raging waters of the Euphrates River.

At last the survivors of the flight are rescued. There is much discussion about the meeting in New York, and how to continue on the road to peace despite all that has happened. Miriam Bernstein says she will not go to the meeting, as she no longer believes in the possibility. In New York, the Arab and Israeli delegations at the United Nations had been assembled receiving reports of the situation in Babylon. When word reaches them of the rescue mission's success, those present celebrate together this small peace that might one day bring a much larger peace in their homelands.

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