Matti Friedman – Spies of No Country


Award-winning writer Matti Friedman’s tale of Israel’s first spies has all the tropes of an espionage novel, including duplicity, betrayal, disguise, clandestine meetings, the bluff, and the double bluff – but it’s all true.

The four spies at the center of this story were part of a ragtag unit known as the Arab Section, conceived during World War II by British spies and Jewish militia leaders in Palestine. Intended to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage and assassinations, the unit consisted of Jews who were native to the Arab world and could thus easily assume Arab identities. In 1948, with Israel’s existence in the balance during the War of Independence, our spies went undercover in Beirut, where they spent the next two years operating out of a kiosk, collecting intelligence, and sending messages back to Israel via a radio whose antenna was disguised as a clothesline. While performing their dangerous work these men were often unsure to whom they were reporting, and sometimes even who they’d become. Of the dozen spies in the Arab Section at the war’s outbreak, five were caught and executed. But in the end the Arab Section would emerge, improbably, as the nucleus of the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted intelligence agency.

Author: Matti Friedman
Narrator: Simon Vance
Duration: 6 hours 2 minutes
Released: 19 Nov 2003
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Language: English

User Review:

smoke neat

The book is a bit slow, the memories of certain Israeli agents at the very outset of the intelligence service before Israel was really established. The stories drag a bit as true stories with all their cumbersome details often do but for followers of little known historical events it’s a winner.