Black Sunday (novel)

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This article is about the novel. For other meanings, see Black Sunday (disambiguation).
Black Sunday
First edition cover
Author Thomas Harris
Country United States
Language English
Genre Crime novel, thriller novel, psychological thriller
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 318
ISBN 0-399-11443-2
OCLC 1123602
LC Class PZ4.H3163 Bl PS3558.A656

Black Sunday is a 1975 novel by Thomas Harris.[1]

It was the first novel by Harris, and achieved only moderate success[1] until it was sold to Hollywood. The novel is a thriller about a plot by terrorists to commit mass murder during the Super Bowl in New Orleans, and law enforcement efforts to stop them. Harris wrote the novel after watching the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis where Palestinian terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage and murdered them.


Michael Lander is a pilot who flies the Aldrich Blimp over NFL football games to film them for network television. He is also, secretly, deranged by years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, a bitter court martial on his return and a failed marriage. He longs to commit suicide and to take with him as many as possible of the cheerful, carefree American civilians he sees from his blimp each weekend.

Lander conspires with Dahlia Iyad, an operative from the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, to launch a suicide attack using a bomb composed of plastique and a quarter million steel darts, housed on the underside of the gondola of the Aldrich Blimp, which they will detonate over Tulane Stadium during a Super Bowl between the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins. Dahlia and Black September, in turn, intend the attack as a wake-up call for the American people, to turn their attention and the world's to the plight of the Palestinians.

American and Israeli intelligence, led by Mossad agent David Kabakov and FBI agent Sam Corley, race to prevent the catastrophe. They piece together the path of the explosives into the country, and Dahlia's own movements.

In a spectacular conclusion, the bomb-carrying blimp is chased by helicopters as it approaches the packed stadium.

Film adaptation[edit]

In 1977, a film was made based on the novel starring Robert Shaw and Bruce Dern and directed by John Frankenheimer.


  1. ^ a b Cowley, Jason. "Creator of a monstrous hit," The Observer (Nov. 18, 2006).