Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel by Matti Friedman


I was really interested in getting into this because of the almost legendary reputation of the Israeli spy system. On an entertainment level I've read a ton of books where the Mossad seems to know everything or seen in movies like WWZ where they begin building an anti zombie wall years because of everyone else because of their Tenth man policy. What I didn't realise it that not all of this is fiction. In 1973-1974, Israel Military Intelligence established a Control Unit that was expected to play this role of the devil’s advocate. Its responsibility was to produce a range of explanations and assessments of events that avoided relying on a single concept, as happened in 1973. The writer of WWZ Max Brooks puts it a bit more dramatically: if ten people are in a room, and nine agree on how to interpret and respond to a situation, the tenth man must disagree. His duty is to find the best possible argument for why the decision of the group is flawed. Spies of No Country offers us a detailed look at the what can only be described as three of the founding members of the Israel spy system. There is no flashiness and high tech gadgets with information gleaned though high risk close proximity encounters. There is no long distance satellite surveillance, cameras need to be borrowed from acquaintances and every moment is fraught with danger and the real possibility that a single mistake could end their lives. With that the agents have an enormous sense of pride in what they are doing for their family and country with the knowledge that they are truly affecting the future. It is intriguing and emotive and a raw moving piece of story telling. Highly recommended

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