Shadow Strike recounts Israel's destruction of the Syrian nuclear reactor at al-Kibar in Syria's Deir az-Zur region in September 2007. The book focuses on Israel's discovery of the Syrian program and the air operation that destroyed the reactor. It concludes with a sober assessment of both the operation and subsequent diplomacy.
Katz, editor of the Jerusalem Post, is a veteran American-Israeli correspondent of military affairs with a close knowledge of Israel's military and political systems. The book moves easily from the military and espionage elements of the story to depictions of various leaders and political figures in Israel, Syria, and the United States.
The details of the Israeli operation read like a Hollywood script, and Katz's depictions of the operation are colorful and vivid. But he goes beyond the drama by contextualizing, emphasizing the U.S. decision not to punish North Korea for its role in the Syrian nuclear effort. He accurately describes that involvement as "the greatest known act of state sponsored nuclear proliferation" and speculates that the lack of penalties encouraged other countries to pursue their own proliferation efforts.
The book's conclusion is positive, noting that the destruction of the Kibar reactor is "a playbook for how one country neutralized an existential threat." Shadow Strike is well-written, engaging, and thoughtful. Among its most interesting elements is the reassessment of the role of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. Katz notes Olmert's mistakes and flaws but points to his willingness to take action where necessary without hesitation. In this regard, the destruction of the Kibar reactor was "most of all ... about decision-making."