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Operation Shakespeare: The True Story of an Elite International Sting Hardcover – July 8, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451655134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451655131
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this mix of true crime and political exposé, Shiffman reveals that, in the years after the 9/11 terror attacks, many foreign countries were using American technology, illegally obtained, to build their cutting-edge military machines (state-of-the-art explosive devices, for example). Homeland Security, a new agency at the time, decided the best way to stop the flow of technology from the U.S. to these foreign countries would be to set up a complex sting operation to apprehend the various brokers and intermediaries who handled the merchandise. This book, which chronicles the operation, isn’t as engaging as it could be—despite its exciting subject, it reads a bit on the dry side—but it does tell a fascinating story and would probably make a thrilling movie (a companion piece, perhaps, to Argo). Readers of true crime and stories about government sting operations, like Robert W. Greene’s The Sting Man (1981), about Abscam, should give this account a warm reception. --David Pitt


“Vivid . . . An impressive and important work . . . Shiffman illuminates the network of smugglers, brokers, governments, and corporations that facilitates the illegal sale and shipment of sensitive American military technologies to foreign enemies. . . . The book has the glamour of a spy novel and the gravity of a meticulously researched exposé.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“A riveting new book, Operation Shakespeare, tells the thrilling inside story of how an elite team of Homeland Security operatives snatched an Iranian arms dealer from the shadows in a triumph of American justice. . . . Operation Shakespeare reads like a spy thriller—but Shiffman’s meticulous reporting leaves no doubt that he is telling nothing less than scary truth.” (New York Daily News)

“One might think that curbing the smuggling of weapons to America’s enemies would be a significant priority for the U.S. government. One would be wrong.” (New York Post)

“John Shiffman’s Operation Shakespeare reads like a spy novel, but this meticulously reported book has the added virtue of being completely true. Shiffman has uncovered one of the great undercover stings in recent U.S. history, a Homeland Security operation aimed at protecting U.S. troops from an Iranian arms dealer. This is must-reading for anyone who loves foreign intrigue—a welcome covert operation where the U.S. agents are the good guys.” (Andrea Mitchell)

“One of the nation’s premier journalists takes you into the world of smugglers, snitches, and secret agents. Operation Shakespeare is a real-life cloak-and-dagger adventure, with American lives hanging in the balance.” (Matt Apuzzo, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Enemies Within)

“In this fascinating tale, John Shiffman takes us inside the shadowy world of international arms dealing, exposing a high-stakes battle against smuggling that takes place far from the front pages—even as it threatens our soldiers and national security on a daily basis. Leaping from Philadelphia to Tiblisi to Tehran, Operation Shakespeare is so richly detailed you’d never know that Shiffman wasn’t actually part of the sting himself.” (Garrett Graff, author of The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War)

“Captivating . . . Shiffman’s exciting and eye-opening look into the ‘tiny weapons of modern war’ and the international machinations that control them will appeal to espionage junkies and the techno-thriller crowd.” (Publishers Weekly)

Praise for Priceless:

“Riveting . . . This should be a TV series.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Gripping . . . Enough intrigue and suspense for a Hollywood screenplay.” (The Washington Post)

“Stunning . . . Authoritative and superbly crafted, Priceless is absolutely, hands down, the best book ever written on art crime. It is also a fascinating memoir.” (The Associated Press)

“Entertaining . . . Crime buffs will receive a painless education while they enjoy a lively account of art thieves and the man who pursued them.” (Kirkus)

“With suspense, intrigue, and candor, FBI agent Robert Wittman takes us inside the secret world of stolen art as he goes undercover to solve some of the most notorious art thefts of our time.” (Ronald Kessler New York Times bestelling author of The Bureau and In The President's Secret Service)

Priceless is a gem of a story, part James Bond, part art history. If Robert Wittman didn't already exist, Dan Brown would have made him up.” (George Anastasia New York Times bestselling author of Blood and Honor and The Summer Wind)

“More realistic than The Thomas Crown Affair, more entertaining than Catch Me If You Can. It's hard to believe one undercover FBI Agent rescued so many cultural and national treasures . . . but it's all true.” (Jack Garcia former undercover FBI agent and New York Times bestselling author of Making Jack Falcone)

More About the Author

John Shiffman is an investigative reporter for Reuters. At the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

He is also co-author of Priceless, a New York Times best-seller published in eight languages.

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
I finished the entire book in two sittings.
This is a detailed exploration of a complex international sting operation and provides an insider view of some of the most fascinating issues of our time.
J. Sonnenberg
I can see why others say this will make a great Hollywood movie.
The Exception

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DunTulm on July 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A very gripping read that parallels the two worlds of Homeland Security and the military. The author finely details the background work that goes into these true international undercover operations and the impact of this criminal activity on our troops and national security. It is good to see that at least Homeland Security Investigations is targeting true criminals/arms traffickers with their operations as opposed to some of the domestic FBI terrorist sting operations that I have read about lately that seem to nab nothing but hopeless and incompetent, wannabe jihadists.

I flew through this book and have to agree it might make a great movie.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By patrick gorman on July 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Shiffman has written another great book -- meticulously detailed and fast-paced -- to expose the unseemly world where military contractors, money, and middle-men mingle with arms dealers and terrorists. The result: Top-secret technology trained on our soldiers. Easy to pick up, hard to put down, Shiffman walks us through a complex international sting operation, illuminating a black market national security nightmare with details that drop you right into the middle of the action. I highly recommend Operation Shakespeare.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M.W. Hall on July 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
What a great read! I couldn't put it down. Had no idea that Homeland Security was involved in these kinds of international stings -- and the nexus between our government, the companies that make our military technology and the terrorists who trade in it is just fascinating. Clearly written by a journalist with an eye for detail, the book reads like a fast-paced novel. I was hooked from the opening when Darius, posing as an arms broker, is waiting for his target at the airport in Tbilisi. Can't wait for the movie!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SA on July 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
What a fascinating read! I finished the entire book in two sittings. The story gives the reader a rare inside glimpse of the planning and execution of a real life sting operation. It also sets the context by illuminating the sobering breadth and depth of the illegal arms trade. Great job explaining a very complicated topic as well as the even more complex details of the sting in a way that the reader can easily follow. And bonus - It reads like a spy novel.
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