fighting the lack of good ideas

gideon’s spies by gordon thomas

Gideon’s Spies by Gordon Thomas claims to be “the secret history of the Mossad”.

From the myriad reviews on Amazon, I didn’t know whether to be expecting a massive work of historical fiction, or a insightful tour de force. After having nearly finished it, I don’t know if I have an opinion of whether it’s “inciteful” or “insightful”. Of course, this is supposed to be detailing backroom dealings, secretive organizations, and national intelligence operations: so there is likely a fair amount of ego building and some fanciful manufacturisms along the way.

It is written in a conversational, informative tone and is eminently readable. The “structure” reminds me of how some of the best professors I had in college spoke – the stories didn’t seem to happen in any particular order or for a reason, but by the end you can see how they all interlink to give the picture.

Several of the items in the book I can informally verify to be true having spoken to other first-hand sources on some of the topics. Whether the entire book is “true” or not, it is certainly worth reading for at least the perspective of Mr Thomas, and the sources he has interviewed.

As with any other claimed exposé, much of what is said needs to be taken with grains boulders of salt, but it is very well written overall. It starts with an account of folks surrounding Lady Diana’s death – Mossad agents, MI5, MI6, Dodi Fayed, etc etc. What this has to do with the rest of the book… I don’t know, but it was still an interesting take. Some would say this is to support conspiracy theorists and their beliefs that intelligence agencies are all-powerful, and that they will actively withhold information that could benefit their allies just because of personality clashes. Personally, while I think some of that happens, it can’t really be as wide-spread as some would claim, or some countries would have been removed from the gene pool.

My biggest complaint is that for a professional journalist, Mr Thomas CANNOT use the phrase “try to” properly – almost invariably he says “try and” instead! GAAAHHH!!

Should you read the book? I think it’s worthwhile, even if it turns out to be 90% fiction. If you approach it as a book in the strain of the Jack Ryan universe created by Tom Clancy, and it turns out to be true – cool. And if not, you at the very least had an entertaining time.

  • Quality of writing: 4/5
  • Quality of content: unknown, but I’d guess at least 3/5
  • Entertainment value: 4/5
  • Historicity: unknown, but between 2/5 and 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5