In what is probably a surprise to none of you, I was once a precocious teenager who loved reading books about the Middle East. Out of all of those books, one seems to have stuck in my mind the most. It was an old Signet paperback edition of The Mossad: Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service: Inside Stories. Published in the late 70s, it told the told the stories of some of the Mossad’s most daring covert operations. As a young reader I remember being enthralled by the adventures of the great Israeli spy Eli Cohen as well as the spy agency’s successful orchestration in getting an Iraqi pilot with his MIG-21 to defect to Israel. For a young and impressionable reader like myself, such tales made for exciting reading. As a result, I’ve always been fascinated by the Mossad.
A few months ago I read somewhere online that a new book on the Mossad had recently been published. Luckily for me, during my last library visit I happened to spot a copy of Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service. After grabbing it without hesitation I slowly made my way through the shelves in search of yet more books that I’m sure I didn’t need. About a week later of letting on my desk ignored and unread I finally cracked it open. After only a few pages I felt like kicking myself for not starting it sooner. Wow, what a great book.
I found Mossad to be well-written and fast-paced. With each chapter devoted to a specific secret mission things move quickly. While I’ll admit I know more about the Mossad than most Americans, I’ll also happily confess I learned a heck of a lot of new information about the spy agency from reading this book. From the agency’s early days in the late 40s to the Mossad’s recent sabotage and assassination operations against the Iranian nuclear program it’s all here. Like any decent book of this type, it chronicles the agency’s triumphs as well as its failures.
Besides being a book about daring spy adventures, it’s also a book about the importance of quality leadership. We all know that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan, but according to Bar-Zohar and Mishal’s book, with few exceptions, behind every successful mission there was a competent Director and/or mission leader. When things went haywire, almost always it was due to bad decision-making in the field or poor leadership at the executive level. In the shadowy world of intelligence, just like in business leadership counts.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book I have no problems recommending, especially to readers who like books about the Middle East or espionage. If after following my advice you would like to follow-up Mossad with a few other good books, I’d also recommend The Secret War with Iran: The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle Against the World’s Most Dangerous Terrorist PowerHunting Evil: The Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped and the Quest to Bring Them to Justice by Guy Walters. Both books are very good.