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Sylvia Rafael: The Life and Death of a Mossad Spy (Foreign Military Studies) Hardcover – August 15, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A thrilling, engrossing story, fully the equal of action novels. Sylvia Rafael is a welcome and highly readable effort to fill the void in our ordinary knowledge."―Jonathan M. House, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

"It is a gripping spy thriller, and it is also a revealing portrait of a woman who made painful personal sacrifices in order to serve Zionism and her adopted country of Israel."―The Times of Israel

"[A] compelling account of the inner life of a woman who spent so much of her training in the shadows."―Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Ram Oren is an Israeli journalist, publisher, and author of more than twenty-six books.

Moti Kfir held a number of senior positions in the Special Operations Unit of Mossad, including Director of the School for Special Operations. He was awarded a doctorate in history by the Paris Sorbonne.
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Product Details

  • Series: Foreign Military Studies
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (August 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081314695X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813146959
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ram Oren and Moti Kfir's biography, "Sylvia Rafael" reveals a lot but not everything about the background, life and mission(s) of Mossad "combatant" Sylvia Rafael. Rafael was a South African by birth who came from a mixed marriage. A profound experience as a girl when she met a distant cousin, a survivor of the Holocaust, led her to embrace the cause of the Jewish state as her life's mission.

Following college graduation, she distanced herself from her family when she moved to Israel and became a teacher. She was recruited by the Mossad in her mid-twenties and became an agent or "combatant," the term preferred by the authors for a period of more than ten years. The authors explain some aspects of the the training she received as an agent and reveal some of the missions she was a part of. However, I am left with the distinct impression that the authors held back nearly as much as they reveal, most likely for security reasons or perhaps, because some of the missions she was a part of were blatantly illegal, politically sensitive or morally unpalatable.

Following a disastrous screw-up of a mission in Norway, the purpose of which was to assassinate the leader of the Black September movement and where instead, an innocent Moroccan is mis-identified and brazenly killed by Mossad agents on a public street, Rafael was tracked down and arrested. She was convicted and imprisoned for a period of time. However, the Norwegian government treated her with deference and a light touch. Her sentence in a minimum-security facililty was quietly commuted long before its mandate.

Rafael burned herself out with this last, failed mission and chose to leave Mossad service. The remaining years of her life are improbable and unexpected so I won't give it away. I have little doubt that she may have served the State of Israel in some capacity as a trainer or speaker but she no longer participated on missions.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading the account of Sylvia Raphael's life, however it was focussed on the hunt for Ali Hassan Salameh but it would have been interesting to read about other missions she was involved in.
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Such an interesting story - being a spy is no picnic when you give up your life and sacrifice to save your country- a totally selfless act which in most cases is never recognized.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic novel. This was highly informational regarding the history of Israel and the problems they have to contend with just to survive.
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Reads like a novel. That makes the story more impressive. A small piece of history that I feel lucky to come across.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
story is interesting but authors writing style leaves something to be desired
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A riveting, exciting and heartbreaking story of a woman who gave everything she had to what she believed in, only to be discarded by those whom she served when it was expedient to them. Sylvia deserved better, those she served deserved less than what she rendered to them. She was truly the person of superior character in this so oft repeated story of life.
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I've had a fascination for Sylvia Rafael the team she belonged since 21.07.73, and how they(both the assassination team and Mossad) could fail so miserably - I also hoped to understand why it took Israel 23 years to make up for the serious mistakes the Mossad team did, since my questions still remains unanswered I give the book 3 stars.
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