Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

A group of passengers must survive in the wilderness after their plane crashes in the Middle East.

"By the Rivers of Babylon" by Nelson DeMille: A Captivating Political Thriller

Brief Synopsis

"By the Rivers of Babylon" is a compelling political thriller by Nelson DeMille. The novel is set in the Middle East, where an American passenger plane is hijacked and forced to land in a remote desert. The story unfolds against the backdrop of political tensions, as the passengers and crew are held captive and face the threat of execution. As the plot develops, the novel delves into the complexities of international relations, power struggles, and the human capacity for survival.


The story is primarily set in the Middle East, specifically in a barren and desolate desert where the hijacked plane is forced to land. The harsh and unforgiving landscape becomes a character in itself, impacting the decisions and actions of the individuals stranded in this remote location.

Main Characters

David HarperThe protagonist, an American diplomat who finds himself in a leadership role during the crisis.
Major CuthbertThe leader of the hijackers, a complex and enigmatic character with a deep-seated agenda.
Ben KazinAn archeologist and passenger on the plane, whose knowledge of the region becomes crucial for survival.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5: The Hijacking

The novel opens with the dramatic hijacking of the American passenger plane, setting the stage for the intense and suspenseful events that follow. The passengers and crew are thrust into a life-threatening situation, and the power dynamics between the hijackers and the hostages begin to unfold.

Chapter 6-10: Survival in the Desert

As the hijacked plane is forced to land in the desolate desert, the characters must navigate the harsh environment and the psychological toll of their captivity. Tensions rise, alliances form, and the struggle for survival becomes increasingly desperate.

Chapter 11-15: Power Struggles and Negotiations

Amidst the harsh conditions of the desert, power struggles emerge among the hostages and the hijackers. Negotiations ensue, revealing the complexities of international relations and the high stakes involved in securing the release of the captives.

Chapter 16-20: Unraveling Agendas

The true motives of the hijackers and the personal histories of the characters come to light, adding layers of complexity to the unfolding crisis. Trust is tested, and the characters are forced to confront their own vulnerabilities and resilience.

Chapter 21-25: The Climactic Resolution

The novel builds towards a climactic resolution as the characters face a final showdown that will determine their fate. Loyalties are tested, sacrifices are made, and the gripping conclusion unfolds.

Main Events

  • The hijacking of the American passenger plane
  • The forced landing in the remote desert
  • Survival challenges in the harsh environment
  • Power struggles and negotiations between hostages and hijackers
  • Unraveling of personal motives and agendas
  • The climactic resolution and its aftermath

Themes and Insights


  • Power and control in high-stakes situations
  • Human resilience and survival instincts
  • Political complexities and international relations
  • Trust, betrayal, and loyalty in extreme circumstances


The novel offers a thought-provoking exploration of the human psyche under duress, the impact of political dynamics on individual lives, and the intricate interplay of power and survival.

Reader's Takeaway

"By the Rivers of Babylon" is a riveting and thought-provoking thriller that delves into the complexities of human nature, political intrigue, and the indomitable spirit of survival. Readers will be drawn into a gripping narrative that offers insights into the depths of the human experience and the intricacies of geopolitical power play.


Nelson DeMille's "By the Rivers of Babylon" is a masterfully crafted political thriller that transports readers into a world of high-stakes drama, complex characters, and intense survival challenges. The novel's exploration of power dynamics, resilience, and the human capacity for survival will leave a lasting impression on readers, making it a compelling and unforgettable read.

By the Rivers of Babylon FAQ

  1. What is 'By the Rivers of Babylon' about?

    The novel 'By the Rivers of Babylon' by Nelson DeMille is a gripping story about the survivors of a plane crash in the wilderness of the Middle East. As they struggle to survive, they are confronted with a series of challenges and dangers that test their will to live.

  2. Who is the author of 'By the Rivers of Babylon'?

    Nelson DeMille is the author of 'By the Rivers of Babylon'. He is a renowned author known for his captivating storytelling and suspenseful plots.

  3. Is 'By the Rivers of Babylon' based on a true story?

    No, 'By the Rivers of Babylon' is a work of fiction and is not based on a true story. However, the author's vivid descriptions and attention to detail may make it feel very realistic.

  4. What genre does 'By the Rivers of Babylon' belong to?

    'By the Rivers of Babylon' falls into the genre of thriller and suspense, as it keeps readers on the edge of their seats with its intense and unpredictable plot.

  5. Is 'By the Rivers of Babylon' suitable for young readers?

    The book contains themes and content that may not be suitable for young readers. It is best suited for mature audiences due to its intense and mature subject matter.