Thoughts on: Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal

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Mossad: The Great­est Mis­sions of the Israeli Secret Ser­vice by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nis­sim Mishal is a non-fictionbook by Israeli jour­nal­ists Michael Bar-Zohar and Nis­sim Mishal. The book recounts some of the great suc­cesses and fail­ures of the secret Israeli agency.

  • 400 pages
  • Pub­lisher: Ecco
  • Lan­guage: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062123408

Book Review Mossad The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service

My rat­ing for The Mossad — 5

Buy this book in paper or elec­tronic for­mat*

I am famil­iar with Pro­fes­sor Bar-Zohar’s writ­ings, he is a lead­ing Israeli writer on espi­onage. As most of his books, Mossad is also a fast paced, fas­ci­nat­ing look behind thick cur­tains which have been pre­vi­ously closed. The authors’ analy­sis and insight are mes­mer­iz­ing and usu­ally spot on, while the new infor­ma­tion they present, infor­ma­tion that just recently has been uncen­sored, is sim­ply amazing.

One of the most intrigu­ing aspects of the book is not the spec­tac­u­lar suc­cesses, but the equally spec­tac­u­lar fail­ures. Some of these fail­ures are so aston­ish­ing one has to look at the cover to make sure the book is about the Mossad and not the key­stone cops. After­wards pound­ing ones head – “what were they think­ing”.

Author Michael Bar-Zohar said that this is due to "The feel­ing is that we are the best in the world, and there­fore a sense of Israeli ama­teur­ish­ness some­times creeps into the sys­tem. This means they send peo­ple who are not as sea­soned as they should be and they trust that they will not be caught and iden­ti­fied.” (

That being said, the Mossad cer­tainly has an extra­or­di­nary achieve­ment record. That record though, cou­pled with clas­sic Israeli self-assurance and over­con­fi­dence, can eas­ily get smirched.

The book is divided into twenty two dis­tinct chap­ters, each one a story of its own. The oper­a­tions range from the com­plex assas­si­na­tions of Syr­ian gen­eral Muham­mad Suleiman, find­ing and assas­si­nat­ing rogue sci­en­tist Ger­ald Bull(he was devel­op­ing a super­gun for Sad­dam Hus­sein), the kid­nap­ping Nazi Adolf Eich­mann in Argentina and lur­ing Mordechai Vanunu out of Eng­land into Rome as to not suf­fer the wrath of Thatcher.

Even oper­a­tions which seem mun­dane, such as smug­gling out of the Soviet Union of Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech, or sneak­ing across the bor­der Jew­ish Syr­ian women (the Syr­ian brides) gets an air of rev­er­ence and com­plex­ity. Other chap­ters include a run down of the years Israel’s great­est spy, Eli Cohen, spent in Syria as well as bring­ing the Jews of Ethiopia to Israel.

The chap­ter about the elim­i­na­tion of Black September’s lead­er­ship does not fail to men­tion the inno­cent Moroc­can waiter, whose only crime was resem­bling Ali Has­san Salameh, one of the Mossad’s tar­get. One of the biggest fail­ures of the Mossad that we know of.

Buy this book in paper or elec­tronic format*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I bor­rowed this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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