“Wondrous . . . Compelling . . . Piercing.” —The New York Times Book Review
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 were young, Jewish, and born in Arab countries. In 1948, at the outbreak of war in Palestine, they went undercover in Beirut, spending two years running sabotage operations and sending crucial intelligence back home. It was dangerous work. Of the dozen members of their ragtag unit, five would be caught and executed—but the remainder would emerge as the nucleus of the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted intelligence agency.
Journalist and award-winning author Matti Friedman’s masterfully told and meticulously researched tale of Israel’s first spies reads like an espionage novel—but it’s all true. Spies of No Country is about the slippery identities of these spies, but it’s also about the complicated identity of Israel, a country that presents itself as Western but in fact has more citizens with Middle Eastern roots, just like the spies of this fascinating narrative.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
At the heart of Israel’s beginnings lies a remarkable and at times haunting true tale of espionage. Around the time of the country’s founding in 1948, a small group of spies known as the Arab Section—composed of Arab Jews under deep cover—risked their lives for the nascent Jewish state. Regarded as outsiders by Ashkenazi Israelis, these agents moved between Arab and Jewish society without completely belonging to either world. Drawing from interviews with the last living member of the group, Matti Friedman’s Spies of No Country illuminates the human side of history, providing a unique glimpse into the complicated soul of Israel.