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Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad (Updated)

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Created in 1951 to ensure the future of an embattled Israel, the Mossad has been responsible for the most audacious and thrilling feats of espionage, counterterrorism, and assassination ever ventured. Gordon Thomas's 1999 publication of Gideon's Spies, resulting from closed-door interviews with Mossad agents, informants, and spymasters as well as from classified documents Created in 1951 to ensure the future of an embattled Israel, the Mossad has been responsible for the most audacious and thrilling feats of espionage, counterterrorism, and assassination ever ventured. Gordon Thomas's 1999 publication of Gideon's Spies, resulting from closed-door interviews with Mossad agents, informants, and spymasters as well as from classified documents and top-secret sources, revealed previously untold truths about the Israeli intelligence agency. And now, in this edition, Thomas updates his classic text and shows the Mossad as it truly is: brilliant, ruthless, and flawed, but ultimately awesome. Three all-new chapters cover topics including: - How the Mossad planned to assassinate Saddam Hussein - Saddam's food-testing ritual, and the surprising "source" within his government - China's U.S.-based front-companies, and its relationship with bin Laden - Mossad's untold role in the events before and after 9/11 - Mossad and revelations about Princess Diana's death - The disappearance of the millions transferred from the Vatican Bank to the Polish Solidarity movement - How extremists recruit suicide bombers, including women - Mossad's untold role in the Iraq war and the hunts for Saddam and bin Laden - Saddam's plans for trial


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Created in 1951 to ensure the future of an embattled Israel, the Mossad has been responsible for the most audacious and thrilling feats of espionage, counterterrorism, and assassination ever ventured. Gordon Thomas's 1999 publication of Gideon's Spies, resulting from closed-door interviews with Mossad agents, informants, and spymasters as well as from classified documents Created in 1951 to ensure the future of an embattled Israel, the Mossad has been responsible for the most audacious and thrilling feats of espionage, counterterrorism, and assassination ever ventured. Gordon Thomas's 1999 publication of Gideon's Spies, resulting from closed-door interviews with Mossad agents, informants, and spymasters as well as from classified documents and top-secret sources, revealed previously untold truths about the Israeli intelligence agency. And now, in this edition, Thomas updates his classic text and shows the Mossad as it truly is: brilliant, ruthless, and flawed, but ultimately awesome. Three all-new chapters cover topics including: - How the Mossad planned to assassinate Saddam Hussein - Saddam's food-testing ritual, and the surprising "source" within his government - China's U.S.-based front-companies, and its relationship with bin Laden - Mossad's untold role in the events before and after 9/11 - Mossad and revelations about Princess Diana's death - The disappearance of the millions transferred from the Vatican Bank to the Polish Solidarity movement - How extremists recruit suicide bombers, including women - Mossad's untold role in the Iraq war and the hunts for Saddam and bin Laden - Saddam's plans for trial

30 review for Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad (Updated)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    The most entertaining one-star book you may ever read. If I'm rating based on the sheer page-turner appeal of the first half of the book, I give it two or three stars. Gideon's Spies is chalk full of harrowing tales of treachery, boldness, and bravery, written in the voice of a murder mystery. The trouble is Thomas's shoddy writing, or, to be fair to Thomas, perhaps it's the publishing house's shoddy editing. It's hard to take very seriously a book that claims the Lockerbie bombings took place in The most entertaining one-star book you may ever read. If I'm rating based on the sheer page-turner appeal of the first half of the book, I give it two or three stars. Gideon's Spies is chalk full of harrowing tales of treachery, boldness, and bravery, written in the voice of a murder mystery. The trouble is Thomas's shoddy writing, or, to be fair to Thomas, perhaps it's the publishing house's shoddy editing. It's hard to take very seriously a book that claims the Lockerbie bombings took place in 1998. Thomas also doesn't do himself any favors in the credibility department by kicking the book off with a lengthy 30 page examination of the Princess Diana conspiracy theories. Look, maybe Mossad was involved -- I don't know. But if you're trying to establish credibility, at least bury the stuff about Di somewhere in the middle once you've convinced the reader that you're to be taken seriously. Further, there's no coherent narrative to this book. Thomas jumps all over the place chronologically. We start in 1997, then it's the 1920s through the 1960s, then it's the nineties again, then back to the 1980s. It was impossible to pick up a thread. All that was going on was that Thomas was threading together one cool story after another. And, again, I give the guy props for telling some really cool stories. That's why this book has one star instead of zero. But things completely fall apart after about 350 pages. At that point, the first edition clearly ends, and the final 300 pages is tacked on. Literally tacked on. Thomas did additional research -- kudos for that -- but made seemingly no effort to integrate the updated material with the earlier stuff. He defines terms we already learned. He rehashes stories -- dude, we already heard that story 200 pages ago! He mixes up dates. He does this weird thing when he quotes people where he writes "(insert quote here)," said So-and-So (to the author). I have just never seen that before in a serious, real book, and it came across very sophomoric. I think Thomas could have done himself a lot of favors, and given his obviously very thorough research a real air of authority and reality if he had integrated the last half of the book into the first half, checked his dates, written a bit less breezily, and left certain stories completely out. As is, this is only passable fiction. Which is a shame, because, if true, this book is groundbreaking. The trouble is we can't take anything we read here seriously, even if we should.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sassan

    This is an interesting book to review. While I learned quite a bit from this book, I take issue with the fill-in-the-gap nature that the author of this book takes when he doesn't have evidence to present with the assertions that he makes. There is no doubt that the author harbors an anti-Israeli bias and this tone is evident throughout the book. I am willing to read books and objectively consider the evidence at hand regardless of my preconceived beliefs. In first reading this book, I expected t This is an interesting book to review. While I learned quite a bit from this book, I take issue with the fill-in-the-gap nature that the author of this book takes when he doesn't have evidence to present with the assertions that he makes. There is no doubt that the author harbors an anti-Israeli bias and this tone is evident throughout the book. I am willing to read books and objectively consider the evidence at hand regardless of my preconceived beliefs. In first reading this book, I expected the book to be one in which facts and evidence was presented of past actions of the Mossad. There is no doubt that the Mossad has been responsible for assassinations and other forms of sabotage so simply presenting the evidence and the facts is what I expected this book would be of. Throughout the book, the author speculates and inserts his own beliefs and conspiracy theories rather than simply presenting the evidence at hand. He does this often by "raising questions" and making speculations. Not to mention that footnotes of his claims are not provided. Again, there is no doubt that there is truth to many of the stories that the author shares. Still, some of the claims are pure conspiracy theories. For example, he speculates that the Mossad or the CIA had a hand in the Pan-AM terrorist attack. He also likes to rely on anonymous sources and his own insinuations and beliefs based on not evidence. This is what makes many of the claims of the author questionable. I am not Israeli nor Jewish. I am Iranian-American atheist. I simply wanted to learn of the facts with evidence rather than the tangents that the author goes off in many directions. The editing was also poorly done with many grammar mistakes. This book was an interesting read indeed. It simply is one in which the conclusion of the cases he presents were often time muddied by his tangents that were more often than not his own speculations devoid of evidence.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    In the world of smoke and mirrors that the world intelligence services operate in, Mossad are considered to be the best in terms of the quality and quantity of intelligence that they collect. AS well as that the missions that they undertake are audacious, brave and just a little bit foolhardy. In this book, Thomas has brought together details of those missions and operations that Mossad has either undertaken, or has played a part in. Through his extensive contacts in a variety of intelligence ser In the world of smoke and mirrors that the world intelligence services operate in, Mossad are considered to be the best in terms of the quality and quantity of intelligence that they collect. AS well as that the missions that they undertake are audacious, brave and just a little bit foolhardy. In this book, Thomas has brought together details of those missions and operations that Mossad has either undertaken, or has played a part in. Through his extensive contacts in a variety of intelligence services he has attempted to fill in the gaps in the public record of events or we were not even aware of in most cases. He covers events such as 9/11, the death of Diana, the horrendous rendition flights that the CIA undertook, the obliteration of the Syrian nuclear facility and lots more. Whilst a lot of this was interesting, the book did drag. It is nearly 700 pages of closely typed text, and the mass os facts and detail does get overwhelming at times. With all of these types of books, you have to take them with a little salt, as I cannot believe every thing in here is true. But it does show Mossad as very proficient and brutal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Gordon Thomas may be right to boast about what he claims are the unprecendented number and range of interviews that he conducted with high-ranking officials from Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. Yet while the fruits of those interviews may be of interest in a “spy novel” sense, Thomas’ presentation of their sum mostly does not lead to a greater understanding of Israeil policy, or much of anything else. Dramatic and intriguing they may be, but tales of Mossad officials cavorting around t Gordon Thomas may be right to boast about what he claims are the unprecendented number and range of interviews that he conducted with high-ranking officials from Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. Yet while the fruits of those interviews may be of interest in a “spy novel” sense, Thomas’ presentation of their sum mostly does not lead to a greater understanding of Israeil policy, or much of anything else. Dramatic and intriguing they may be, but tales of Mossad officials cavorting around the world, kidnapping former Nazis and recruiting operatives in French hotels, are not of much interest in any larger sense. There are hints of items of real interest here, that would in fact tell us something about Israeli machinations – such as collaboration with the apartheid regime of South Africa, or very scant references to arming South American dictators – though Thomas’ establishment-friendly lens prevents him from exploring these topics in any depth. One also notes a regrettable tendency to characterize any Israel foreign policy or intelligence misdeeds as stemming entirely from factors internal to Israel, thus ignoring the fundamental US role.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    A terrific read with the ins and outs of any spy book only this time the names and events are not necessarily changed to protect people. It is the true history of the development of the Mossad; its missions; its successes; its failures. I was half-way through the book when my father said it looked interesting and wanted to borrow it. I was horrified but I survived. Thankfully, he is a fast reader and he returned it in a few days with a huge smile on his face. As a career military man, I took tha A terrific read with the ins and outs of any spy book only this time the names and events are not necessarily changed to protect people. It is the true history of the development of the Mossad; its missions; its successes; its failures. I was half-way through the book when my father said it looked interesting and wanted to borrow it. I was horrified but I survived. Thankfully, he is a fast reader and he returned it in a few days with a huge smile on his face. As a career military man, I took that as a sign that the book that was already quite good was going to get better. It did. The history threads its way through the directorships of the Mossad and how they affected the way it was run and how the personality of the agency changed with each change of personnel. Some myths of the Mossad were confirmed and some dispelled. Greater detail about the inner workings were given than I ever expected. At times, it felt as if I were accompanying a spy on a particular "op." It was fascinating. I enjoyed the political and social details which offer greater explanation of what was going on at the time -- more than was ever publicized internationally. It was interesting to have both views of the same picture which made the whole even more interesting than either on its own. The individuals come alive, their personal agendas versus those of their assignments and the Mossad, the conflicts, the State versus the Jewish faith, being wholly dedicated to eradicating the enemies of the State -- a very rich and informative read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    So where to start. This book came very highly recommended from a co-worker as an educational tool regarding Mossad. Specifically there were a lot of items in it that did relate to project and program management (i.e. planning for revenge on the Olympian attackers, assassinations, etc). This part was very interesting in how they plan, test and execute. I will say though the intriguing analysis was on Diane's murder. Yes, we in America heard what was going on, we mourned (ok some of us) and listen So where to start. This book came very highly recommended from a co-worker as an educational tool regarding Mossad. Specifically there were a lot of items in it that did relate to project and program management (i.e. planning for revenge on the Olympian attackers, assassinations, etc). This part was very interesting in how they plan, test and execute. I will say though the intriguing analysis was on Diane's murder. Yes, we in America heard what was going on, we mourned (ok some of us) and listened to the conspiracy theories begin. I will say that the theory proposed sounds very likely, additionally with the autopsy and theories out of that. I found this very fascinating. I also found the evolution of Mossad through the Iran / Iraq conflicts interesting.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    It certainly cannot be said about this book that its author, Gordon Thomas, isn’t completely taken with the subject at hand. Writing with a schoolboy’s fascination for the murky parallel world of international espionage, Gideon’s Spies is a book full of smoke-filled rooms, institutional treachery, and ruthless men and women operating in cunning ways that would make the most hardened of criminals take pause. He describes a world where no one can be trusted, where deception is revered as an art fo It certainly cannot be said about this book that its author, Gordon Thomas, isn’t completely taken with the subject at hand. Writing with a schoolboy’s fascination for the murky parallel world of international espionage, Gideon’s Spies is a book full of smoke-filled rooms, institutional treachery, and ruthless men and women operating in cunning ways that would make the most hardened of criminals take pause. He describes a world where no one can be trusted, where deception is revered as an art form, and where your dance partner not only calls the tunes, but also gets to decide when it’s lights out in the ballroom. While entertaining to read, Gideon’s Spies is by no means the serious work of history that its subtitle (A Secret History of the Mossad) might imply. Throughout, Thomas’ book suffers from the fact that the line between exactitude and exaggeration is never clear. Some of the adventures he documents, such as the farcical account of how Adolf Eichmann was nabbed off of an Argentinean street, were straightforward and convincing, but many others read like seamless fiction, all the more easily invented decades removed from the actual events. Additionally, there is no shortage of conspiracy theories in the book, from Mossad’s potential involvement in the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed in 1997 to a rogue CIA team’s supposed involvement in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In both cases, and others, Thomas provides scant evidence that the theories are anything more than the product of vivid imagination. But poor sourcing and unchecked speculation is only part of the frustration that flows from this book. The numerous stories of both intelligence failures and successes were sometimes difficult to follow, with Thomas preferring to use a continuous series of chronologically chaotic asides to deliver historical context to his readers. While the book does give a good accounting of the scope and range of nearly half a century of Israeli intelligence operations, it glaringly fails to convey the critical connection between the Mossad’s intelligence efforts and Israel’s national security. Instead it is a tale of exploits and mishaps that often appear only marginally related to national security interests and sometimes even counterproductive to Israel’s democratic values. If taken at face value, the extent to which disinformation is used to further political goals is troubling and bodes ill for the idea that a free and independent media can serve as a useful check on state power, whether in Jerusalem, London, or Washington. The story of media baron and apparent Mossad informer Robert Maxwell provides the most startling example. Despite there being little direct evidence, Thomas weaves a fascinating tale of a media empire financed by fraudulent business practices and wealthy Israeli investors motivated by equal parts profit and patriotism. When Mordechai Vanunu, a Moroccan Jew that had worked in Israel’s nuclear facilities at Dimona from 1977 to 1986, emigrates from Israel and decides to tell the world about its nuclear activities, it is Maxwell that first informs Tel Aviv and then promptly runs a front page article seeking to discredit Vanunu in his London Daily Mirror when it becomes clear that Vanunu had sold his story to a rival London newspaper. Eventually, however, Maxwell and his sordid business dealings would become a public relations liability to Israel, and according to Thomas, it was at that point that Mossad made quick work of him on a Yacht off the coast of the Canary Islands, making his death appear to be a suicide. In another story of the expendability of the individual for the greater organizational good, Thomas writes about the case of Ismail Sowan, a Palestinian first recruited by the Mossad as a teenager in the West Bank because of his unusually sympathetic views towards Israel. It was Sowan’s desire to go to college that led him to agree to accept Mossad’s offer, but it was the idealistic notion that he would be furthering peace efforts between the two peoples that really excited him. After first working as a diplomatic courier in Europe, Sowan was told to go to Lebanon and join the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). His successful infiltration of the group and eventual assignment at its London headquarters provided Tel Aviv with a valuable source of reportage about the PLO’s illicit activities to promote terror around the world. But when a series of counterfeit blank British passports destined for the Israeli embassy turned up in a phone booth and the murder of a prominent Palestinian political cartoonist went awry, Israel needed a way to shore up its relationship with London. Implicating Sowan in the murder and then leading British authorities to his supposed stash of arms and explosives worked to perfection. Despite Sowan’s protestations that he was working with the very organization that had set him up and handed him over to UK authorities, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The most troubling aspect of Gideon’s Spies, however, may be Thomas’ account of numerous so-called sayanim, or “volunteer Jewish helpers” in locales around the world. Some of them, he notes, do no more than buy local clothing to be sent to Israel so that Mossad agents will have authentic clothing when working under deep cover. In other instances, however, he notes that some of these volunteers are connected to the U.S. media and instructed to plant stories with false information. His claim that the sayanim represent “the historical cohesiveness of the world Jewish community” and that “regardless of allegiance to his or her country… [these volunteers] recognize a greater loyalty: the mystical one to Israel” (pg. 54), is a reckless one. Such a characterization perpetuates the anti-Semitic myth of Jewish dual-loyalty. Individuals of any nationality may feel strong ties to childhood, ancestral, or cultural homelands, but to suggest that members of the Jewish diaspora play such a prominent role in Israeli intelligence gathering activities risks inciting paranoia and giving credence to a harmful canard. The value of this book lies in its ability to convey the potential for abuse when public policy is crafted without regard to the role of the public. While the scope for debate on individual actions is necessarily limited, the goals and macro-strategies of intelligence gathering must be the product of robust democratic dialogue and its implementation should never be completely obscured from the public view. Intelligence organizations should never do the bidding of individual politicians, nor should they operate without impunity when laws are broken. Doing so risks creating an extralegal arm of state power and calls into question the very basis of democratic governance. It also provides a poignant reminder that in an open society privacy is the exception to the rule and not the other way around. © Jeffrey L. Otto, Sept. 28, 2009

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Often a disjointed and repetitive narrative- definitely some interesting and disturbing sections and perhaps my review is biased in that I did not particularly like what I was potentially learning, but other parts/conclusions in my opinion were not well supported and seemed pretty dubious and far-fetched.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Ratzman

    I can’t trust this book since it mostly draws on former agents, saucy speculations and other sketchy sources. However, the picture it paints of competing national spy networks is truly frightening. If a fraction of these stories are true, we’re living in a world where governments can quietly eliminate or discredit its perceived “enemies” with relative ease—from planted newspaper stories to untraceable poisons—and little accountability. Mossad, apparently, has help in most countries, payroll info I can’t trust this book since it mostly draws on former agents, saucy speculations and other sketchy sources. However, the picture it paints of competing national spy networks is truly frightening. If a fraction of these stories are true, we’re living in a world where governments can quietly eliminate or discredit its perceived “enemies” with relative ease—from planted newspaper stories to untraceable poisons—and little accountability. Mossad, apparently, has help in most countries, payroll informants, Zionist patriots and trained agents. Oddly, agents may have been working on the hotel driver who crashed and killed Princess Diana. Mossad was a crucial part of Israel’s success in fighting hostile Arab countries, the PLO and even mild, civilian critics. Most disturbing is Mossad’s offer of help to assassinate ANC activists for the South African security service; with Israel’s collaboration with apartheid South Africa why do we wonder that there is a pervasive anti-Zionism on the left?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nathanael S.

    This is a one of a kind, eye opening, hard hitting account of a uniquely fascinating topic. Like a good Borne movie action scene, it’s a fast and up-close view of the extremely impressive, if not unnerving, skills of highly trained spies.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pete daPixie

    I posses a stubborn aspect to my reading habit, in that I have an extreme dislike to not finishing any book that I pick up. Gordon Thomas' 'Gideon's Spies', a rather large tome weighing in at around six hundred pages was a test of my resolve. A secret history of Israel's Mossad, my updated edition was published in 2007, from its original copyright date of 1995. From the outset I hit on a subject of which I am quite well informed, namely the death of Princess Diana. So, the utter rhubarb that I fo I posses a stubborn aspect to my reading habit, in that I have an extreme dislike to not finishing any book that I pick up. Gordon Thomas' 'Gideon's Spies', a rather large tome weighing in at around six hundred pages was a test of my resolve. A secret history of Israel's Mossad, my updated edition was published in 2007, from its original copyright date of 1995. From the outset I hit on a subject of which I am quite well informed, namely the death of Princess Diana. So, the utter rhubarb that I found in print in various sections of the text concerning various aspects of this assassination did not fill me with confidence, or encouragement to slog through the remaining pages. (Mr Thomas:-Mossad agents were NOT involved in Paris and were NOT driving any white Fiat Uno. The intelligence asset behind the wheel of the white Fiat Uno was NOT James Anderson, but one James Andanton a Frenchman who WAS in Paris that night.) After such a sloppy beginning, I did persevere. However, my overall impression of 'Gideon's Spies' is of a large volume that could be edited down somewhat and presented in a more chronological order. I am also not convinced that some of the topics covered are not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, perhaps for fear of greatly upsetting other national covert organisations.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    Where to begin, lets start with the writing, its bad. The author has a tendency to start making a point and then meandering off for two pages before returning to his original point, its hard to believe this guy writes for a living. Lets turn to content, how do you write a CREDIBLE non-fiction book without footnotes? None of the events described in this book are sourced, except for the author's vague assurances that they were based on his extensive interviews. Give me a break! Any first year coll Where to begin, lets start with the writing, its bad. The author has a tendency to start making a point and then meandering off for two pages before returning to his original point, its hard to believe this guy writes for a living. Lets turn to content, how do you write a CREDIBLE non-fiction book without footnotes? None of the events described in this book are sourced, except for the author's vague assurances that they were based on his extensive interviews. Give me a break! Any first year college student would get an F if he/she submitted a paper sourced like this book is. The book's cause is not helped by the fact that known fabricators such as Arie Ben-Menashe are quoted at length. The fables Ben-Menashe spins are presented as fact in this book, for sure that spells trouble. The most egregious error in this book, though, comes about when the author describes the 1972 take-over of the Israeli embassy in Bangkok. The reader is treated to an account where Israeli leaders agonize over their options thinking back to the Raid on Entebbe as one possible solution that is ultimately disregarded. Of course the raid on Entebbe took place in 1976 FOUR YEARS IN THE FUTURE. The Israelis are good, but time travel, please. I have a hard time believing that Osama Bin Laden has close relationships with the Chinese given that they are now a secular consumerist society- something which Bin Laden is against. Yet, according to the book, he visited Beijing in 2005?! The Mossad supposedly knew that a truck bomb was going to be used against the marines in Lebanon, but didn't tell them. The Israeli Prime Minister (Shamir) supposedly gave Pollard's spy material to the Russians because he hated America. The Mossad supposedly didn't lift a finger to save William Buckley, who was tortured and killed in Lebanon. The famous Mr. Maxwell, who looted his employee's pension funds, supposedly gave those funds to the Mossad. I became suspicious when I saw listed on his acknowledgments page the contact name Barry Chamish. Barry is well known for his "creative" conspiracy theories. And for writing about UFO sightings in Israel. The author credits the North Koreans with having SSN-6 nuclear submarines. No, they have diesel submarines. They have SSN-6 missiles. Later he credits the Israeli navy of having nuclear submarines---again, wrong. They have diesel submarines built by Germany. The final straws were when the author writes of an Israeli helicopter that uses "silent mode" to enter enemy territory.I can assure you that is laughable, and I could no longer take the book seriously after that. A few pages later he references Pope Air Force Base in Georgia. A simple internet search would show you that Pope Air Force Base is not located in Georgia, but North Carolina. Thomas is a conspiracy theorist who relies on innuendo and rumor to justify mindless theories and meaningless concepts, all in lieu of research and facts to tell what is an incredible story on its own. From little things, like referring to the Echelon surveillance system operated by the National Security Agency as monitoring every conversation between every individual virtually anywhere in the world (Echelon monitors electronic conversations, not every possible conversation) to secondhand references to the late William Casey, the then-director of the CIA, as suggesting that Mossad supplied arms to Hezbollah in the early 1980's when Israel invaded Lebanon, Thomas studiously avoids anything approaching professionalism or reasoned analysis.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    The subject matter of this book is intriguing and a piercing insight into how nations interact with each other on multiple levels. Mossad's methods and philosophy of defending Israel at all costs and by all means necessary are clearly exposed here. Strangely the first chapter's discussion of the death of Princess Diana, linked to Mossad because of the commercial interests she threatened, is a little out of place given that the rest of the book focuses entirely on Mossad's role in defending Israe The subject matter of this book is intriguing and a piercing insight into how nations interact with each other on multiple levels. Mossad's methods and philosophy of defending Israel at all costs and by all means necessary are clearly exposed here. Strangely the first chapter's discussion of the death of Princess Diana, linked to Mossad because of the commercial interests she threatened, is a little out of place given that the rest of the book focuses entirely on Mossad's role in defending Israel militarily. There is no doubt however that Mossad is very involved in commercial theft. The book is overly long and will appeal mostly to those who already have a significant interest in its workings. It's also unclear why many would have cooperated in its writing, why certain details revealed within would not have led the agency to attempt to quash the book, nor whether everything contained therein is true. Perhaps the book or some details in it are part of the Mossad Unit of Psychological Warfare's effort to sow the seeds of confusion. In any case, a revealing book in many ways and on balance worth the read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kemp

    Is there anyone they won’t kill? That thought kept coming back to me as I read “Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of Mossad”, by Gordon Thomas. The list of people the Israelis have assassinated is long. Sure, most of them were terrorists or assassins themselves but all of them? Don’t know. Nor was rarely any due process or trial provided. Mossad acted as police, judge, jury, and executioner. Maybe this hints how difficult it is being a Jewish state in the midst of Arabia. Lots of claims made in Is there anyone they won’t kill? That thought kept coming back to me as I read “Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of Mossad”, by Gordon Thomas. The list of people the Israelis have assassinated is long. Sure, most of them were terrorists or assassins themselves but all of them? Don’t know. Nor was rarely any due process or trial provided. Mossad acted as police, judge, jury, and executioner. Maybe this hints how difficult it is being a Jewish state in the midst of Arabia. Lots of claims made in the book for which one cannot easily validate. The book begins with claims of a connection between Mossad and the driver in of the car that crashed and killed Princess Diana. Gordon Thomas alludes to that connection playing a role in the high speeds prior to the crash. True, how would I possibly know. All countries spy – even on their friends. And all have wet operations too. None are “clean”. But the Israeli’s are efficient. Very efficient. And the death toll rises. I didn’t need to read all of these and think a more succinct book with fewer examples would read better. Especially if the examples delved deeper into the reasons and needs of the operation. I felt the book just went on and on never really running out of missions. Its written sort of chronologically but not entirely. Hard reading if you don’t know much about Israel, its leaders, or the world events for which Mossad acted. There were a lot of names I didn’t recognize and my time line of Israeli leadership failed me. But in those I remember it connected the disconnected dots of their history. I grew up thinking that Israel’s dogfights were a great testing ground for American fighter jet s as US built F-15s and F-16s took on Russian Migs operated by Syria or Egypt. It allowed Russia and the US to learn, evolve, and develop better weapons without an all-out war between the two superpowers. Alright, maybe not completely relevant to this book but it supports Israel’s willingness to act early and often. Interesting reading to see inside an intelligence agency and its operations. How they finance their operations. How they approve them. And for those events you recognize it provides interesting background. But it is a long read that becomes repetitious as one killing leads to the next and the next… Not the worst rated 2 star book but if the author hadn't added length during his update but rather tighten it up (a lot), removed irrelevant fluff, and explained why Israel had to act on the events described it would read much, much better.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vivek

    What I like about the book is a non Mossad agent compiling stories from his various interviews with various folks to compile a multiple POV and reporting of the various missions Mossad has undertaken from an operational standpoint versus complete first person narratives that tend to be colored with personal glory. The interlinking of international spy agencies and governments and non state actors is an interesting mix the author brings up stating stories from the across world. A book worthy for What I like about the book is a non Mossad agent compiling stories from his various interviews with various folks to compile a multiple POV and reporting of the various missions Mossad has undertaken from an operational standpoint versus complete first person narratives that tend to be colored with personal glory. The interlinking of international spy agencies and governments and non state actors is an interesting mix the author brings up stating stories from the across world. A book worthy for those who have an academic interest in Mossad and its organisational setup and reach over the years under different leadership and situations. If you are looking for a spy thriller, Ian Fleming is a better shot.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rafał Grochala

    It has a lot fascinating - plausible - stories but the author is clearly inventing at least parts of them. Technical details can be laughingly incorrect, locations and events can also be very misleading in the light of recent evidence and documents (edition 1999), and some chapters contradict each other. But I was expecting that from this kind of book, so all in all it's still worth reading. It has a lot fascinating - plausible - stories but the author is clearly inventing at least parts of them. Technical details can be laughingly incorrect, locations and events can also be very misleading in the light of recent evidence and documents (edition 1999), and some chapters contradict each other. But I was expecting that from this kind of book, so all in all it's still worth reading.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sammy Sutton

    GIDEON'S SPIES is a comprehensive, and balanced picture of Mossad. The author begins with a plunge into the circumstances revolving around the death of Princess Diane. He paints an intricate picture of facts, and faux paus that clearly complicated the situation then and now. It is an interesting beginning to a book of this nature. However, it does demand the reader's attention, therefore, I believe it serves the purpose well. After the dramatic introductory story, the author settles into a more t GIDEON'S SPIES is a comprehensive, and balanced picture of Mossad. The author begins with a plunge into the circumstances revolving around the death of Princess Diane. He paints an intricate picture of facts, and faux paus that clearly complicated the situation then and now. It is an interesting beginning to a book of this nature. However, it does demand the reader's attention, therefore, I believe it serves the purpose well. After the dramatic introductory story, the author settles into a more traditional format based on the chronological events, and history of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad. Mossad has enjoyed a much more secretive past than its American counterparts. This alone, has me celebrating the encyclopedic work the author provides in this book. I literally could not put it down, and found myself reading it every time I had even a moment to spare. The sources, and intimate knowledge the author provides is phenomenal. He was afforded many hours of interviews with intricate members that commented directly and anonymously. The history of the agency and incidents in which they were involved are fascinating. The author details the successes as well as the failures in dynamic detail. This is a long book, but I highly recommend it for those interested in an absolutely fascinating look into this secretive agency and World History! Bravo!!!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dmitry Merener

    This is an excellent book. The stories are great and fun to read. My problem with the book is that 415 pages in, the author makes two blatant mistakes that he represents as facts. The author establishes a CIA/MOB connection and lists "The Gotti Family" as one of the benefactors along with the Gambino and Columbo crime families. There is actually no such thing as "the Gotti Family" as John Gotti was a captain and eventual boss of the Gambino Family. On the very next page, the author mentions a su This is an excellent book. The stories are great and fun to read. My problem with the book is that 415 pages in, the author makes two blatant mistakes that he represents as facts. The author establishes a CIA/MOB connection and lists "The Gotti Family" as one of the benefactors along with the Gambino and Columbo crime families. There is actually no such thing as "the Gotti Family" as John Gotti was a captain and eventual boss of the Gambino Family. On the very next page, the author mentions a suburb of Chicago named Cicero, which the author states is the birth place of Al Capone. It is common knowledge that Al Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York. For me, this shattered the authors credibility. Though the book is very fun to read, if Gordon Thomas states false facts that are commonly known, how can I believe the secret things he writes about claiming to be classified with no way to confirm. Though the book is an excellent read, I have downgraded my ranking from a 5 to a 3 because of a distrust of the author's "facts".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pujan Ziaie

    well-written and informative. Funny that the author, mentioning the plots of Mossad and other intelligence services to play journalists and fool the media, was himself apparently played in at least one of his stories: the plan of Mossad to convict Iran's regime behind Pop's assassination in the 80s. The author admits in one of the following chapters that KGB was behind it (they were afraid of uprisings in Poland), and forgets that he has Mossad's allegations against Iran in previous chapters. Wh well-written and informative. Funny that the author, mentioning the plots of Mossad and other intelligence services to play journalists and fool the media, was himself apparently played in at least one of his stories: the plan of Mossad to convict Iran's regime behind Pop's assassination in the 80s. The author admits in one of the following chapters that KGB was behind it (they were afraid of uprisings in Poland), and forgets that he has Mossad's allegations against Iran in previous chapters. Whoever is familiar with Iran's history and politics well knows that in the first couple of years after the revolution no such complicated plot could have been conducted by Iran's intelligence service, due to the instability of the new regime and the war between Iran and Iraq. Regardless of this rather small gaff and a few other unimportant flaws, the book provides a very informative perspective and clear vision into the world of spies and intricacies of the intelligence community on a global scale. I highly recommend this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Set

    “By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War”. Wow!! This book took me through a whirlwind of dense intensity and had me on the edge of my seat. Gordon Thomas paints and sculpts the life of a spy like Pablo Picasso. The writer takes the reader through tumultuous layers of the spy world. The work of the spy is not only about abduction, clutching, and assassination but it requires rigorous thinking and planning to every little detail that goes into the finalization of every clandestine operations. The “By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War”. Wow!! This book took me through a whirlwind of dense intensity and had me on the edge of my seat. Gordon Thomas paints and sculpts the life of a spy like Pablo Picasso. The writer takes the reader through tumultuous layers of the spy world. The work of the spy is not only about abduction, clutching, and assassination but it requires rigorous thinking and planning to every little detail that goes into the finalization of every clandestine operations. The infinitesimal details we ignore in everyday life make the world of difference in the realm of clandestine operations. What works in the SPY world does not conform to the norm of the civilian world. In the spy world civility is quite a foolish concept and way of thinking. The world of the spy is absolute ruthlessness because the enemy you are dealing with is planning and ready to totally wipe you out of existence. You get the picture!!!!! At the end of the day, the job of a spy is to get the job done by any means necessary.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hock Tjoa

    This is not a "history" in any sense of the word that I know of; it is a collection of anecdotes, mostly of a sensationalistic nature--the death of Princess Di, the hunting of Adolf Eichman, the preparations for the six-day war, the U.S. "inspection" of the nuclear facility in Israel, the development (ups and downs) of the relationship of the Mossad with the CIA, the Vatican, the Iranians (Iran-contra scandal), the Chinese intelligence service, etc. The author asserts that he checks his facts. P This is not a "history" in any sense of the word that I know of; it is a collection of anecdotes, mostly of a sensationalistic nature--the death of Princess Di, the hunting of Adolf Eichman, the preparations for the six-day war, the U.S. "inspection" of the nuclear facility in Israel, the development (ups and downs) of the relationship of the Mossad with the CIA, the Vatican, the Iranians (Iran-contra scandal), the Chinese intelligence service, etc. The author asserts that he checks his facts. Perhaps so, but he doesn't seem to know what next to do with them.

  22. 5 out of 5

    April (The Steadfast Reader)

    This book was alright - the stories were definitely intriguing and interesting. However it lacked some of the... style? from some of his other books - specifically the ones about MI-5 and the CIA mind control experiments. I also noticed what I consider to be excessive typos for a professionally published book - perhaps it's because I was reading the Kindle version? All the same, it's unacceptable. Overall a decent read. This book was alright - the stories were definitely intriguing and interesting. However it lacked some of the... style? from some of his other books - specifically the ones about MI-5 and the CIA mind control experiments. I also noticed what I consider to be excessive typos for a professionally published book - perhaps it's because I was reading the Kindle version? All the same, it's unacceptable. Overall a decent read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    Riveting at times, but some poor writing, weird grammar, repetitive story telling, and length made it a tiring and uninteresting read for the most part. It appears the second half of the book was updated to add new information on a couple of stories and added a couple hundred pages of unstructured rambling story telling with no defined purpose.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maryhope Tobin

    Fascinating read. If even half this sh*t is true, we should be very afraid. If the stories aren't true, they're very exciting fiction. Either way, educational and entertaining. Stealing a MiG from Baghdad and landing it in Israel? Wow. Fascinating read. If even half this sh*t is true, we should be very afraid. If the stories aren't true, they're very exciting fiction. Either way, educational and entertaining. Stealing a MiG from Baghdad and landing it in Israel? Wow.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Noa Fay

    This book is not meant to be read for the writing but for the content, which is superb. I at times believed I was reading a fictional espionage novel (one not unlike Daniel Silva’s) because the stories were so dramatic and intense.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a well researched history of the Mossad, but I couldn't keep track of all of the people. This was a well researched history of the Mossad, but I couldn't keep track of all of the people.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andres

    Some interesting stories but very hard to believe all of them. It was also very repetitive in many cases and interest in the chapters wained towards the end.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    This is less a review than a justification for quitting on page 107 of a slapdash, lazy, and irresponsible 677 page book. Those expecting a measured, evenhanded, thorough, and thus fair approach should try Goodreader Joey's or Jeffrey Otto's reviews. Mine will just be a hatchet job. Let me give the author of such nonfiction classics (I assume) as Descent Into Danger, They Got Back, and Magdalene: The Woman Who Loved Jesus (among others), to say nothing of the fictional Camp on Blood Island and This is less a review than a justification for quitting on page 107 of a slapdash, lazy, and irresponsible 677 page book. Those expecting a measured, evenhanded, thorough, and thus fair approach should try Goodreader Joey's or Jeffrey Otto's reviews. Mine will just be a hatchet job. Let me give the author of such nonfiction classics (I assume) as Descent Into Danger, They Got Back, and Magdalene: The Woman Who Loved Jesus (among others), to say nothing of the fictional Camp on Blood Island and Organ Hunters (among others) his due for having written such a glib page-turner. Here readers will find unattributed, unsourced, and achronologous anecdotes aplenty, sensationalist speculation and conspiracy theories abounding. But a history? Not so much. Well, okay. To be fair, pages 31-42 purport to give an historical overview of Mossad's origins, ca. 1929-1963 or thereabouts. I have to say, though, this constitutes an extremely superficial overview of what I had expected Thomas would spend his pages to describe in detail. Actors are aggregated, their collectivized actions arrogated to be "brutal," "ruthless," and "deadly." Little of it is specific. None of it is sourced. By way of contrast, I've just picked up a nonfiction book called In Search of Time by Dan Falk (no relation) that's only a little over 300 pages long. I'm only 2 pages in, so can't yet comment on the substance. But I'll tell you this. Not only does this diminutive work include a far more substantial bibliography than Gideon's Spies, it contains 20 pages of endnotes that carefully substantiate and source every assertion, quote, argument, and observation. Agree or disagree, we know where Falk got his information. Spies has been updated 9 times through my 2009 edition, in the process expanded to twice its original length, and while it contains an outstanding, name-dropping index, a one-page list of acknowledgements (a partial list of names of people who "in their own way played their part" in the book), and a "selected bibliography," there are exactly zero attributions. Even his internal quotes are subject to question, most of them pulled from undocumented conversations (when? where?) with the author and others. In a typical example (pp. 27-29), Thomas presents as a verbatim passage a 1986 interview with then-CIA director William Casey, which was conducted under the conditions that it be used only for background, could not be recorded in any way, and that note-taking was prohibited. Taken at face value, the transcription here would thus indicate not only an outrageous violation of journalistic ethics, but a remarkable feat of memory. Or maybe the author just made it up. Who can tell? He starts well. "When the red light blinked on the bedside telephone, a sophisticated recording device was automatically activated in the Paris apartment near the Pompidou Center in the lively Fourth Arrondissement." This is a fine first sentence for any opening paragraph, one which I perceive to be Thomas' hook. In this context, I imagine Thomas putting forward a Le Carre-like or Ludlumesque description of representative (if mundane) fieldwork, which he will presumably move from into a sober and less sensationalist chronological (or at least coherent) retelling of the founding, development, influence, and practice of the Israeli intelligence agency, their triumphs, failures, and current roles and responsibilities as part of both current Israeli policy and the global intelligence community. Alas, not so. The author assaults his own credibility immediately, first as a writer: I can't tell you how perplexed I was to find a parenthetical citation to Chapter 8 on page four. For goodness' sake, you're the author, man! If it's germane, move it forward; if not, put it in the index. Then the hammer blow on page 11: "What part had [the Mossad] played in the accident [that killed Princess Diana]? ...To this day [2009] Mossad's involvement with Henri Paul has remained a well-kept secret -- the way the service had always intended it should remain." By page 13, I'm questioning his bona fides as an historian, swamped in gossipy speculation about the death of Princess Di, which he'll carry on for another fifteen pages. My rising gorge is accelerated by vague, hot-stove style narrative jumps from 1997 to 1999 and thereabouts. The blitzkrieg summation of Mossad's early years banks directly into a tale of the theft of an Iraqi MiG. How much of this is true, how much cinematic fantasy, I have no idea, nor but inklings of its underlying significance. Following his whirlwind tour of Mossad's founding come an unending series of unconnected anecdotes of uncertain reliability fervidly strung together without theme, synthesis, or even strict chronological narrative. The whopper I can no longer swallow, the point at which I throw up these pages in disgust arrives at pp. 104-106. Evincing full-blown paranoia, Thomas insinuates Mossad involvement in the Monica Lewinsky scandal on the bizarre reasoning that an unequivocal denial is sufficient to validate an unsupported assertion. Claim anything you like, folks: all crazy allegations must be true if others refute them! Unlike the author, you needn't take my word for it. I've given you the pagination. Here's the shite shot straight from the source. [P]ublic prosecutor Kenneth Starr had not fully pursued his impeachment investigation into [sitting President Bill] Clinton…. The president's words most strongly indicated he was aware that he had become a potential target for blackmail…. A sense of the panic my revelations created in the White House can be seen from its briefing to correspondents… Q: Was there any attempt by the president to intervene in any kind of investigation or search for a mole? LEAVY: No. There is no basis in that allegation whatsoever. … Not one serious newspaper made any attempt to follow up those revealing responses." Well, quel surprise. Assuming any of this transcript to be legitimate, I'm going to go out on a limb of speculation of my own and suggest that the galling lack of follow-through actually represents responsible journalism, the hallmark of any serious newspaper. I am not at all surprised that Gordon Thomas would fail to recognize this. His book is not remotely worth your time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Antony

    A beefy tome about a fascinating subject, on paper Gideon's Spies should have been a winner. Unfortunately, it was a long, hard slog, and if I'd used my head instead of my heart, I'd have given up long before the end. It comprises 671 pages of meandering description of sometimes-fascinating events which have impacted the Middle East and indeed, the world geopolitical landscape. The problem is in the ADHD stream-of-consciousness delivery. Rather than spinning a coherent yarn, the chapters bear lit A beefy tome about a fascinating subject, on paper Gideon's Spies should have been a winner. Unfortunately, it was a long, hard slog, and if I'd used my head instead of my heart, I'd have given up long before the end. It comprises 671 pages of meandering description of sometimes-fascinating events which have impacted the Middle East and indeed, the world geopolitical landscape. The problem is in the ADHD stream-of-consciousness delivery. Rather than spinning a coherent yarn, the chapters bear little reference to their titles, travel back and forward in time, and randomly switch between unrelated contexts, all of which makes for a tiring experience. Character descriptions are often repeated over different chapters as if the chapters weren't part of the same book. Perhaps if the descriptions had been less shallow, one would remember who was who without having to have it drummed in five times. There is some decent material therein, but one has to dig through so much fluff to get to it, that it never feels worth the effort. A proper editing job would have added a star or two, and saved me hours that I'll never get back, and made me actually want to read it instead of letting it block my book queue for the best part of a year because it is such a marathon. So why two stars, not one? Despite its glaring flaws (and I haven't even mentioned the historical inaccuracies and attempts to be sensational), it's still the best book on a subject that by its nature, doesn't boast a wide selection of reading material.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Jochelson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An excellently researched recount of the history of Mossad. A great balance of failures and successes, all told with great journalistic integrity and objectivity. The author should be applauded for the immense amount of research put into the book. The book is filled with countless names, places, organisations and vivid retellings of closed door meetings, private confessions and leaked documentation. The book let me down in its excess of some names and people - it added to the journalistic authen An excellently researched recount of the history of Mossad. A great balance of failures and successes, all told with great journalistic integrity and objectivity. The author should be applauded for the immense amount of research put into the book. The book is filled with countless names, places, organisations and vivid retellings of closed door meetings, private confessions and leaked documentation. The book let me down in its excess of some names and people - it added to the journalistic authenticity but detracted from the narrative. Further, there are aspects where history and time move forward only to be hurtled backwards in further chapters- it’s not always clear thats it’s not always chronological. After reviewing this you notice in the latter half of the book he retells the same stories and references chapters that you’ve obviously read - at no point does he insinuate you should skip chapters or pick and choose. Ultimately a lot of good work in research becomes disjointed in story telling. The stars are mostly in awe of the work that went into this book - interviewing people who’s mission is deception is surely a harrowing task. If it was any less researched it would lose more stars for lack of cohesive flow. Nonetheless the book is lengthy, but captivating and remarkably researched. Well worth the read to understand Mossad, the challenges of espionage over time, but more importantly, geopolitics and the lack of trust and loyalties across nations.

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