Book's Reviews > Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service

Mossad by Michael Bar-Zohar
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Nov 13, 2012

it was amazing
Read on November 13, 2012

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

“Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service” is the fascinating history of Israel’s greatest defense against terrorism, the Mossad. An earlier version of this book was published in Israel in 2010 and broke record sales. This book highlights the greatest missions of the Mossad, as well as some of the most noteworthy failures that have tarnished the agency’s image. Author Michael Bar-Zohar and Israel’s foremost TV personality Nissim Mishal join forces to bring readers insightful accounts into the most dangerous operations for the sake of defense of Israel. This mesmerizing 400-page book is composed of twenty-one chapters: 1. King of Shadows, 2. Funerals in Tehran, 3. A Hanging in Baghdad, 4. A Soviet Mole and a Body at Sea, 5. “Oh, That? It’s Khrushchev’s Speech…”, 6. “Bring Eichmann Dead or Alive!”, 7. Where is Yossele?, 8. A Nazi Hero at the Service of the Mossad, 9. Our Main in Damascus, 10. “I Want a MIG-21!”, 11. Those Who’ll Never Forget, 12. The Quest for the Red Prince, 13. The Syrian Virgins, 14. “Today We’ll Be at War!”, 15. A Honey Trap for the Atom Spy, 16. Saddam’s Supergun, 17. Fiasco in Amman, 18. From North Korea with Love, 19. Love and Death in the Afternoon, 20. The Cameras Were Rolling, and 21. From the Land of Queen of Sheba.

1. A well-researched and well-written book that is accessible for the masses. It’s based on a large variety of sources, books, articles, and interviews.
2. Fascinating topic. It doesn’t get much more interesting than espionage at the highest level.
3. Excellent format, each chapter is about a particular operation. Most chapters begin with a tease and proceed to the heart of story and eventually take you back to the tease in progress. Code names for each operation are also provided.
4. A quote that reaches to the heart of this book, “To protect civilians, the state needs sometimes to do things that are contrary to democratic behavior. It is true that in units like ours the outer limits can become blurred. That’s why you must be sure that your people are of the best quality. The dirtiest actions should be carried out by the most honest men”.
5. The real-life stories presented in this book cover a wide-range of fascinating operations: from eliminating terrorist groups, destroying a Syrian nuclear reactor, eliminating Iranian scientists, providing protection and transfer of Jewish people, the capture of Adolf Eichmann, the thwarting of plots, the exposure of crimes, saving a child with national implications, and even acquiring a MiG-21…it’s all here.
6. One of the best strengths of this book is the precise capturing of the Mossad leadership through the years. The authors do a wonderful job of describing the men and women behind these courageous operations and succinctly point out their major accomplishments and any shortcomings they may have had.
7. The politics behind espionage. Most apparent when things go wrong during an operation.
8. The planning behind some of these operations is of interest. So many layers involved in order to execute an operation. Everyone has a role and it has to be accomplished within a degree of precision otherwise the operation can unravel.
9. One of the boldest spies ever, Elie Cohen. One of my favorite chapters.
10. Unusual ties and relationships forged for desired results. As an example, the Mossad and the Moroccan secret service. Double agents.
11. Missions involving the capture of Nazis are always gripping such as Eichmann and “The Butcher of Riga”.
12. The elimination of the organization “Black September” involved with the massacre of the Israeli athletes is one of the most riveting chapters I’ve ever read.
13. The retrieval of young Jews and Jewesses from Syria.
14. Who was the Angel? Find out.
15. The incidents that embarrassed the Mossad. The Fiasco in Amman is just astonishing…the things that can go wrong.
16. How priceless information turned into Syria’s top-secret nuclear program.
17. The operation involving “The terrorist with nine lives”.
18. The emotional retrieval of the Ethiopian Jews.
19. Excellent Bibliography and Sources.

1. Visual aids would have added immense value to this book. Timeline charts depicting the Mossad leadership and how it relates to the operations would have been helpful.
2. A photo insert section is included but I would have preferred the photos be inserted in the chapters that they belong in.
3. A chapter on espionage gadgets would have been welcomed.
4. A cast of characters per operation would have been very helpful.
5. The Kindle version did not take advantage of its ability to link notes and sources.
6. An appendix with a table of operations with code names would have added value.

In summary, this is a fascinating and topical book. Some of the operations read like a good spy novel, this is truly a riveting book. There are so many interesting operations, so many interesting personalities…it’s espionage at the highest level. My only negative of the book is the lack of illustrations or diagrams that could have added value. That being said, this is an excellent book on the history the greatest missions of the Mossad. I highly recommend it!

Further recommendations: “Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli-Counter Terrorist Team” by George Jonas, “Israel’s Secret War” by Ian Black and Benny Morris, “Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad” by Gordon Thomas, “Hunting Eichmann” by Neal Bascomb, “Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda” by Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton, and “Standing Next to History” by Joseph Petro.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Mossad.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.