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Gideon's Spies

Book Review

 

Title:

Gideon's Spies: The  Secret History of the Mossad

Author:

Gordon Thomas

Publisher:

St.Martin's  Press, New York, NY

ISBN:

0-312-25284-6

Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2001

Rating:

1/2

Gideon's Spies tells the story of the Israeli intelligence service from its inception through the current day. The story is based on interviews  the writer conducted with key players in the intelligence community belonging to the Mossad and the CIA.

Get more information about Gideon's SpiesThe  story constantly shifts its time focus from the present to the past and back, not representing a chronology but instead a piecemeal of incidents and the organization of the stories seems based on sensationalism: the most startling revelations  come near the beginning of the book. The personalities of the men in charge of the agency are all dissected and the author clearly tells why each retired  or was replaced. The author also discusses the political climate in which these  warriors must operate and explains its impact on the success of intelligence operations.

As the story progresses we discover the role that  the Mossad played in well-known international incidents such as the death of Princess Diana, the Irangate arms scandal, and the Monica Lewinsky affair. Many  of the operations are extremely complex as the Mossad plays each side against  the other, supplying arms and information to both sides of a conflict. One of the many revelations uncovered by this book is the Mossad's role in the assassination of Gerald Bull, the Canadian ammunition designer along with the reasons for  his death.

The author also gives us a look at the early days  the Israeli intelligence prior to the forming of the nation. He walks us through  the story of the original organizations, their role in the overthrow of British  mandated rule, and the combination of the different groups into the single agency known today as the Mossad.

One thing this book clearly demonstrates is the ruthlessness of the world that spies operate in. The most productive spies in the Mossad  inventory were used as pawns in a gigantic global chess match. Some of them  were uncovered on purpose, while others were discovered through their own mistakes.  Most of their lives ended through execution or assassination. This was also true of the Mossad's enemies: most of them died a horrible death, yet every  operation was not a victory for the Mossad. A variety of mistakes and misfortunes  changed the reputation of the service from an elite force into a bumbling, politically oriented service that jumps from one embarrassing operation to the next.

The strength of this book is the importance the author placed  on getting the information from firsthand sources. Some of the figures interviewed during research include past members and heads of both the Mossad and the CIA.  The author also provides a select bibliography of additional sources for this work. Although some of the stories may very well be disinformation, the overall  book is a compelling story of international intrigue.

Anybody that enjoys spy thrillers will find this non-fictional work on par with any novel they have read. It is a spellbinding account of international spies and spying and provides a number of interesting  insights into both the Mossad and other intelligence services.

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