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Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad Paperback – March 3, 2009
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Among the world's most respected and feared intelligence services, the Israeli Mossad encompasses shadowy networks of katsas (case officers) often operating undercover, from Washington to Tehran to Beijing. The third update of this well-received book adds expanded sections on postinvasion Iraq, the black market in nuclear material, and other topics, tying up several loose ends from the earlier editions. Large portions remain unchanged, however, giving the book an uneven quality, as some chapters were written in 1994, some in 1999, some in 2004 and some last summer. Thomas's engrossing stories about assassinations, target surveillance and other skullduggery keep the pages turning, but the serious student of the Middle East may be put off by some purple prose, for example, about Saddam in incarceration: "His shaggy salt-and-pepper beard is trimmed once a week, enhancing his sharp, penetrating eyes.... But he will have an opportunity to state his case—more than he had ever allowed those he murdered." Skeptics will wonder what ulterior motives inspired Thomas's many tight-lipped sources to open up to him and will question their information, particularly regarding the more incredible conspiracy theories he writes about. Overall, however, Thomas provides a rare and valuable glimpse at the inner workings of a very secretive organization. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Danny Yatom, the head of the Mossad, sent a spy team in March, 1997, to Washington D.C. based on reports "that President Clinton was repeatedly indulging in phone-sex calls with a former White House aide, Monica Lewinsky ... Knowing the White House was totally protected by electronic counter-measures, the yahalomin team focused on Lewinsky's apartment. They began to intercept explicit phone calls from the president to Lewinsky. The recordings were couriered by diplomatic bag to Tel Aviv."
Ken Starr in the Starr Report says that on March 29, 1997 "[Bill] told [Monica] that he suspected a foreign embassy ... was taping his telephones. If anyone ever asked about their phone sex, she should say that they knew that their calls were being monitored all day long, and the phone sex was a put on." [Gideon's Spies, p.104]
Just that little nugget above is reason enough to get this book.
I wonder how many *other* compromised U.S. politicians the Mossad has the dirt on?
In 1994 when Bobbie Ray Inman was up for consideration as the Secretary of Defense, there was a Mossad-inspired - or really American Zionist inspired - calling campaign to paint Inman as a homosexual. Inman is a married man and he may or may not be a man with a closet homosexual history. I do know this, after this campaign began Inman melted like a chocolate candy bar in the sun and withdrew his Secretary of Defense nomination.
Calls (to journalists) were also made concerning Inman's alleged homosexuality even *after* he withdrew his nomination. Years later Bobbie Ray Inman is still stung by what happened to him. I do not know if the "smears" were true or not, but I suspect they were given the way Inman collapsed so quickly.
The Mossad and American Zionists were outraged that Inman had restricted that satellite maps that the Israelis could look at to about 200 or 250 miles around Israel. Apparently, Israel feels it has the right to the entire panoply of U.S. intelligence.
And I must tell you that the author really wrote about this Israeli excellent secret service, called Mossad.
The main Mossad's actions are all in this book.
One more thing. The author also describes Mossad's failures and scandals.
The author made dozens of interviews with Mossad's figures and also made interviews with many Mossad's enemies.
It took about two weeks, until I read this great book.
If you want to read just one book about the Mossad, this is my tip for you.
What are katsas and kidons?
I know, but read this book and you will know what katsas and kidons means.
However this book isn't without its shortcomings. To talk through a few:
-The author often does not follow thru on his thoughts. For example, the Rabin assassination (or conspiracy) was briefly talked about, then at one point just stopped. Without any further explanation. The author did not even hypothesise as to the how, why, etc. I don't want to call this being lazy, but it doesn't bode well for someone who should be a professional.
- Factual errors. When the author talks about the Entebbe raid by the Israeli special forces, the military operation was incorrectly referred to as operation thunderball. Instead it should read: thunderbolt. Did the author perform an exhaustive proof read?
-Many stories are horribly out of sequence, one chapter briefly talks about the Entebbe raid (1976) and then talks about Yom Kippur war (1973). This happens in many sections throughout the book in general.
Often times, although I am intrigued by the subject matter, I find this book to be a flurry of headache-inducing back-and-forth narratives that span different decades, locations, political players, topics, etc. The various accounts of the Mossad's activities are described in an incohesive manner, at times disjointed and rarely does the author sum up a chapter well - if at all.
In many places I find the ideas described in great detail and then quickly abandoned to go to the next one.
-An example begins with the Iran contra affair, described over a number of pages in wonderful detail, then suddenly completely abandoned! The very next paragraph talked about David Kimche's view of Yasser Arafat and the PLO, then before you know it, that was the end of the chapter! No explanation. No summary. As a reader you're left wondering about the context, etc.
-Another example is a narrative of the bombing of the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor by the Israeli Air Force. This event is described in various places in the book without any cohesion. This all sometimes feels like a bunch of cobbled together hand-written notes thrown in - to make a book.
-Yet another example is the description over multiple pages about 6 dangerous rogue Pakistani nuclear scientists, then quickly abandoned to talk about Iran's hatred towards the Jewish state. Then without so much as another paragraph, moves on to talk about an assassination mission in the Indonesian city of Batu.
On this same subject matter, having read Victor Ostrovsky's "By Way of Deception" and "The Other Side of Deception" and favour that style of writing, perhaps I tend to naturally view this book in a less than favourable light. Ostrovsky's books were narrated in a clear and crisp sequential flow. Not all books are so well produced.
I love non-fiction spy stories and enjoyed this book by Gordon Thomas immensely. At USD$9 it is more than worth it! I will read this book again very soon. I had just hoped that the author had put in a little more effort to make sure he presents one cohesive historic narrative with regards to one of the most experienced and ruthless intelligence agencies in history.