RMazin's Reviews > Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel

Spies of No Country by Matti Friedman
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it was amazing

In the spring of 1948 Israel and the Arab world are engaged in war. The British have recently pulled out. The Arab countries are aligning against the emerging state of Israel. European survivors are coming into the land of Israel. They are survivors hoping to build a Jewish homeland, in spite of the threats around them. It is a perilous time. What is needed is information. What is happening in the adjacent Arab nations? What is the political threat? Which leaders are the people rallying around? Are there armaments? Where will they strike? How can Israel (with few resources) stop them?

Matti Friedman researches the lives of four spies, who served the interests of Israel, through great hardship and danger to themselves. These were not European Jews, but Jews whose families lived among the Arabs. Nor were they professional spies. They were young men. They spoke Arabic, knew its dialects and knew their customs. They were driven to be part of a new Israel nation, even though the incoming European Jews were sometimes at odds with them. These spies had few resources or means of communications to headquarters for further instructions or insight. They were cut-off from family and friends, and each other. If caught, they would be executed. Eventually, men of this caliber would become an agency like the Mossad.

Friedman gives voice to these men and tells their stories through documents, interviews and witnesses woven into a fascinating and harrowing story. He also explores the Middle Eastern roots of Israel society, which is so often depicted as a European formed country in the Western press/ histories. This is an essential book for all those interested in learning about the past and how it echoes down to issues in Israel today. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for a copy of this title.
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Reading Progress

February 6, 2019 – Started Reading
February 6, 2019 – Shelved
February 18, 2019 – Finished Reading

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