GIDEON'S SPIES

THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MOSSAD

Forget (largely) about the “history” part; this is an anecdote-rich, if sometimes factually questionable, series of tales about the extraordinary derring-do of Israel’s vaunted elite foreign intelligence service. Prolific British journalist Thomas (Enslaved, 1991; Chaos Under Heaven: The Shocking Story Behind China’s Search for Democracy, 1991; etc.), whose 38th book this is, spent over 100 hours interviewing Mossad heads and agents, as well as others whose lives have been affected by the agency, including Yasir Arafat (a frequent assassination target before the 1993 Oslo agreement). To his credit, he delves into the organization’s more significant bungled operations, including the mid-1970s killing of an innocent Arab waiter in Norway who was thought to be one of the PLO perpetrators of the 1972 Munich massacre of Israel’s Olympic team. Thomas also provides readers with a good sense of how the Mossad trains its operatives in the field and of how extensively Israeli agents have infiltrated even the most apparently inaccessible parts of the Arab world. (It was a Mossad case officer in the Iraqi desert who, days before the 1991 Gulf War began, discovered that Baghdad had far more SCUD missiles in advanced positions than the CIA knew.) For the most part, though, Thomas contributes to the mythologizing of the Mossad by portraying an endlessly resourceful, often ruthless service that seems straight out of a James Bond film. How many of his tales are true? As Thomas doesn’t document, aside from a short list of “primary interviewees” and other sources, it’s hard to say. Nor does he build credibility by getting certain basic facts wrong or by occasionally offering hyperventilating prose. In short, this fun read, while containing much juicy ready-for-film-adaptation material, should be approached with a skeptical eye by readers interested in serious history.

Pub Date: March 22, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-19982-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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