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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,847 ratings  ·  218 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published March 12th 1999)
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Apr 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
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
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Apr 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Elliot Ratzman
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
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
Jun 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Sammy Sutton
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dmitry Merener
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“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 ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, favorites
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 ...more
Hock Tjoa
Feb 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
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.
Jared Nolen
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.
Maryhope Tobin
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was a well researched history of the Mossad, but I couldn't keep track of all of the people.
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
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
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Kevin Jochelson
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kursad Albayraktaroglu
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: espionage
This book is interesting ; but it most definitely does not live up to the author's claim of having written an "authoritative" account of the history of the Israeli intelligence apparatus. It seems to be based on a mix of truth and disinformation.

It might have been a good book when it was first published; but recent revelations suggest that there are numerous issues with Thomas' work. There has been a spate of new books on MOSSAD and Israeli intelligence operations lately, and I am surprised t
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book simply because I have been to Israel and heard stories about its military victory in many fronts. Israel is a small country with about 9 million people. It is surrounded by Muslim countries and some are hostile to it forcing Israelis to face existential questions every waking hour. Mossad is its inteligence agency that collects and analyzes actionable information critical to its existence. While the author tried best to present how Mossad works as an intelligence agency and how ...more
Rohan Bagade
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It has been a while since I read this book. My dad's friend gave me the book when he came visiting because he had overheard me talking about the film Munich and how I admired Mossad's role in the movie. What started off as a painfully slow read soon became gripping and never really understood when I turned the last page.

The book is descriptive, immersive and comprehensive and gives detailed insights into the organisational hierarchy of the agency, their way of life, life in Israel which I was i
Feb 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I picked up this book with high expectations, but it (or the first chapter at any rate) read like a stream of consciousness - no discernible start, body, or end. With practically no introduction about the Mossad - why it was setup, its objectives, general structure etc. it started off with a conspiracy theory about Mossad's involvement in princess Diana's death. Even by the end of the chapter, there was no coherent argument on whether Mossad was involved or why.

It read in a very disconnected ma
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A outstanding book. The author goes into the details of how the spy agency works. Without doubt one can say it is the last line of defence for Israel as without its intelligence agencies the nation indeed would not exist. The pace is breathtaking for most parts, however, somewhere in the middle it becomes slow and starts to drag towards the end. The author has done a lot of research and it shows. For all those persons who like to know about how the intelligence community in the world works this ...more
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Gordon Thomas (born 1933) is a Welsh author who has written more than fifty books.
Thomas was born in Wales, in a cemetery keeper's cottage where his grandmother lived. He had his first story published at nine years old in a Boy's Own Paper competition. With his father in the RAF, he traveled widely and was educated at the Cairo High School, the Maritz Brothers (in Port Elizabeth, South Africa) and

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