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Our Man in Damascus: Elie Cohn Paperback – January 1, 1969

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Steimatzky House (1969)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006CP9UI
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Eitan Meyer on December 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a man who became a world-renowned spy, whose government offered millions of dollars worth of military equipment for his return, and whose death was preluded by outcries from all quarters. The book is written in an intimate yet unswerving style, from the moment Elie was more or less pushed into spying for Israel to the immediate aftermath of his execution by the Syrian Baathist government.

Before his discovery and eventual death, Elie Cohn managed to infiltrate the hierarchy of an enemy nation to an unheard-of degree. By projecting a winning personality, the distribution of much largess, (aka baksheesh) and the presentation of apparent revolutionary conviction, he managed to not only be a party to secret plans and military inspections of top-secret installations, but also to be an acquintance of the dictator himself, Amin al Hafez (al Assad). The book touches upon his life, family, and the disruption his mission had on both, while providing context when needed on his motivations. And, while not dwelt upon in depth, there were reasons the Egyptian-born Cohn agreed to an extraordinarily hazardous mission.

The book will leave a reader in tears, as the calls for clemency pour in from areas with little or no love for the nation he represented. Even his enemies showed respect for the great man who managed to dupe them to an unparalleled degree. It fittingly ends with a photograph that seems almost a negative, showing Elie swinging from Syrian gallows. To call the book touching is almost an insult, as it is an intensely moving experience in every sense of the word. For friends of Israel, students of the Middle East, or even espionage enthusiasts, this book will add depth and understanding of a crucial and fascinating story of a great man, who died a master spy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Elie Cohn was an extraordinary man, willing to sacrifice his life for the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people. His journey into a double life, as Kamel Amin Tabet, began innocently enough in spring, 1960, when a gentleman from the Israeli defense department visited him in his accounting office at Central Distributors.

Born and raised in Egypt, Cohn had suffered his share of hardships, including his forced 1955 flight from the country--with nothing. Two of his friends had been hanged. Now, however, he embarked upon a trip to Argentina, where he played the role of an expatriate Syrian businessman, and soon ingratiated himself with a series of Arab emissaries, including Amin Al-Hafez, who later became Syria's Ba'athist president.

By 1964, Elie Cohn was in Syria, where he worked his way up into the elite, and nearly became a Syrian government minister.

Thus, Cohn learned of that Syria entertained many grave military plans to attack Israel, which it had sworn to destroy. Always ready with wine, women and funds for the greedy Syrian leadership cliques, Cohn obtained visits to secret army installations overlooking Israel's borders, and learned of nefarious plans. In the early mornings, he telegraphed details to Israel on equipment he had smuggled in via baksheesh.

Cohn was caught only in early 1965, when he was near becoming a Syrian government minister. Now, his erstwhile friend El-Hafez demonstrated his brutal tyranny; he denied all international appeals for clemency. After a kangaroo trial, Asad's government hanged Elie Cohn in a public square, allowing his body to swing for six hours to appease Syrian desires for Jewish blood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on January 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Throughout Jewish history there have been men and women who have given their lives for the survival of their people.
This book relates the real life story of Elie Cohn, one of the great martyrs of Israel. an Israeli agent who penetrated Syria's top echelons of power, disguised as a Syrian businessman Kamel Amin Thaabet. born in Egypt in 1924, Cohn had taken part in a variety of intelligence operations for Israel in the 1950s in Egypt
He married Nadia, the daughter of a Jewish family of Iraqi descent.
Recruited by Israeli military intelligence, Cohn was given the false identity of a Syrian businessman returning to his country from Argentina to which he was sent to establish his identity in 1961 and moved to Syria having gained the confidence of the Fascist Baath Party elite in 1962.
Cohn gained the confidence of Syria's top generals and Cabinet ministers including Amin Hafez who seized power and became President in 1963 after the Baathists seized power in a coup.
Elie Cohn arranged the assassination of a top Nazi emigre in Syria (There was a large Nazi emigre community in Syria) who had been responsible for the murders of Jews during the Holocaust.
But his most important task was exploring Syrian fortifications in the Golan Heights and possibly saving Israel from destruction-definitely saving many Israeli lives when Israel liberated the Golan from Syrian control in the Six Day War.
Cohn was discovered and brutally tortured by Gestapo-trained Syrian secret police, appeals for clemency from the world were ignored and Cohn was hung in Damascus on 18 May 1965.
Israel has captured but never executed a single Arab spy during the entire conflict.
Heartrending is the pain of his wife on watching his execution and the photos of his wife and beautiful children who he left behind.
A great insight into the heroic exploits of one of the great heroes of Israel and the Jewish people.
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