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Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad Hardcover – March 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 354 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (March 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312199821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312199821
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #775,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The Mossad was formed in 1951 to coordinate the intelligence-gathering efforts of the still-young nation of Israel. In the nearly half century since, it has become a force to be reckoned with, boasting an impressive track record of counterterrorist actions and assassinations. Gideon's Spies is loaded with anecdotes of their greatest exploits (and a few colossal blunders). Among the most interesting sections are the suggestions that Mossad agents killed media tycoon Robert Maxwell in 1991, that the agency's attempted recruitment of Henri Paul, the driver of Princess Diana's car that fateful night, may have caused sufficient emotional distress to be a contributing factor in the accident, and that Mossad operatives in America had tapes of the phone-sex conversations between President Bill Clinton and his lover Monica Lewinsky. There's also some extensive material on the links between the Israelis and the Vatican, including the Mossad's role in the investigation into the attempted 1981 assassination of Pope John Paul II and the agency's constant battles against the PLO. An interesting nonfiction read for fans of international spy thrillers.

From Publishers Weekly

The discipline of Israel's Mossad is legendary: members and former members fiercely guard the intelligence agency's methods and rarely talk to journalists. But many, apparently, did talk to Thomas, a former reporter for Britain's Daily Express, whose numerous books include Chaos Under Heaven, about China's democracy movement. Astute readers, however, will question whether these unnamed informants have given the straight scoop. The opening tale is a case in point. Thomas grabs attention with a riveting yarn about Ritz Hotel chauffeur Henri Paul, driver of the car in which he, Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed all died. Thomas portrays Paul as a slick operator who accepted bribes from photographers seeking to snap the various celebrities he was charged with protecting. According to Thomas, the Mossad threatened to reveal Paul's scam to Ritz authorities if Paul didn't agree to spy for Israel. Thomas breathlessly raises a series of questions before hammering his point: "Was [Paul] not only responsible for a terrible road accident but also the victim of a ruthless intelligence agency?" The story, while titillating, ultimately goes nowhere. The question-mark ending is a device on which Thomas relies all too often, giving readers the impression that his book is full of many more questions than answers. Thomas writes with the pulpy charm familiar to readers of English tabloids; however, his use of unnamed sources and his reliance on conjecture will leave readers intrigued but determined to reserve judgment. Foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland, Israel and the U.K.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Gordon Thomas is a political and investigative journalist and the author of 53 books, published in more than 30 countries and in dozens of languages. The total sales of his works exceed 45 million copies.

Thomas' most recent bestseller is Gideon's Spies: Mossad's Secret Warriors. Published in 16 languages and 40 countries Gideon's Spies is known throughout the world as the leading resource on Israeli intelligence. An updated edition will be published in 2012 by St. Martin's Press. Gideon's Spies was made into a major documentary for Channel Four in Britain, which Thomas wrote and narrated, called The Spy Machine. The Observer called The Spy Machine a "clear" picture of Israeli intelligence operations, and The Times called it "impressive," and "chilling."

Customer Reviews

Its is very informative, beautifuilly written and exciting to read I have enjoyed this book very much.
Gene Gursky
Throughout the book, the author speculates and inserts his own beliefs and conspiracy theories rather than simply presenting the evidence at hand.
This book you will read a chapter at a time before you even think of putting it down.attention grabbing from the get go.
Ed Munoz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By "m_peror07" on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was great in most ways. The Mossad is presented as an agency that will do anything to save Israel, to the point of assassination and framing their own agents. I have one major quibble though: his organization of the case histories/biographies/modern Israeli history was so annoying I wanted to tear my hair out by the end of the book. For example, a priest at Robert Maxwell's funeral leads to a shadowy meeting in the Vatican which goes to a flashback to Golda Meir meeting Paul VI to a flashback of James Jesus Angleton & Pius XII. A flashback to a flashback to a flashback?!?! And he starts the book with the Princess Diana tragedy, hinting more than a little it wasn't just a car crash. Apparently a Mossad agent was attempting to enlish Henri Paul around the time of her death. But after she dies, the Mossad is barely mentioned for 30 pages except that they probably know something about it. I know he's an English journalist and the Diana death makes juicy copy, but why don't we start a book on the history of the Mossad with SOMETHING ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE MOSSAD?!?! So, I give Gideon's Spies 5 stars on content but a half a star on organization.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Sandor J. Woren on April 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Books about the history and activities of espionage organizations (both gathering intelligence and covert operation) are by nature subject to be taken with a grain of salt, since the nature of the business is secrecy.

Gordon Thomas does a good job unveiling that secrecy through his various sources, some named, some not, some within the Mossad organization itself, and many from without. He explicitly names these sources on an "acknowledgment page," citing his sources within Israel and Elsewhere. One can only judge the credibility of the information by comparing it to other accounts of the same operations, and asking oneself if it is believable based upon consistency with factual events.

Thomas pulls no punches in portraying the Mossad as arguably the most effective intelligence service in the world. He reveals their various tactics including psychological warfare, their legendary human intelligence capabilities, their worldwide presence (Thomas claims the Mossad has a mole in the White House, which the FBI has been searching for for years), and their covert assassination teams (known as kidons), and their ruthlessness in getting the job done in the defense of the State

Thomas excels at this, especially with this new, updated 2007 edition that covers the role Mossad plays and continues to play in the Iraq War, and probably an upcoming pre-emptive war with Israel's arch foe, Iran. He reveals tidbits of information, such as the unconfirmed "fact" that Israel possesses three nuclear missile armed submarines, currently in the Persian Gulf, off the coast of Iran, completing its triad of nuclear umbrella cover. This, as an example, is something that Israel would probably never really officially confirm or deny. But it passes the "does it make sense?
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
If only half of what Thomas divulges in this book is true, it's a blockbuster. And I would speculate that perhaps half has the ring of truth- but which half? Probably just the well-documented parts used to give a veneer of truth to the fabricated bits. Amid all the stories of the deceptions and intelligence games played by the world's secret services, it's tempting to suspect that Thomas is being played as much as any of the other dupes he tells of. Did Khomeni order the assassination of John Paul? Did the Mossad kill Robert Maxwell? Who knows?
The tales Thomas tells are often very critical of the Mossad, yet running through the book is the implication that the Mossad is the only competant intelligence organization on the planet, and that all other intelligence organizations are staffed with bumbling fools.
The book seesm to give the impression is that Thomas' principle source of information is one or more retired or discharged Mossad officers who have both a pride in the organization as well as an axe or two to grind, but the reader begins to doubt that at least halfway through the book. Many of the stories just don't add up. Some, like the story of Gerald Bull, are absolutely at odds with versions told by well-established sources and thoroughly documented. The Bull story in particular reads like a sloppy farbication by someone who hasn't done a lot of research.
Most of it is completely unverifiable, and a great deal of it strikes me as completely fabricated. And maybe, just maybe, the book is a piece of disinformation itself, designed to mislead and confuse. Who knows? File it on your bookshelves somewhere midway between Le Carre and Fleming.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brian K. Peterson on August 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I love reading spy novels. This book fits right into that genre--however it is not intended to be a novel. I have always found it difficult to swallow any title that states that it's the "Secret History..." of anything. If it was so secret how on earth did a hack British reporter (reknown worldwide for their sensationalistic style) get the inside scoop on it?
This book reminds me a lot of "The Puzzle Palace" a "secret history" about NSA. Compared to the CIA or MI6, both NSA and MOSSAD have virtually nothing of substance in the way of reference books. Most of the facts are based upon specualtion, innuendo and heresay. The authors in both books is probably gathering TONS of information from every source. But, since he can't publish all of it, he must filter it to create a story. But how? He is not an agent. He has never worked in the intelligence field and does not really have the background to choose what is fact or fiction--in the intell world it si sometimes blurred. So the auther instead falls back on what he DOES know. Which is writing stories.
This book IS an incredably good story. As good as any Tom Clancy novel, and it even jumps around (Clancy-style) a lot just as it is getting intriguing. But, since this book is intended as a resource of non-fiction, what does the author give the reader to gain credibility? Answer: A 5 page "Note on Sources" which only elaborates on a few people he interviewed, but never cross-referencing with the stories within the chapters. There is an index, but so what? In some places Mr. Thomas also insinuates that he attended several of the events as a reporter, but never says who he talked to, about what subject.
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