Intelligence gathering seems so glamorous. Hollywood movies contribute to the appeal; the general public’s vision of an intelligence operative is of a sleek man in a three-piece suit moodily stirring his drink at a swank club.
There are no glitzy stories about missions that faced a dead end or about the long and cold nights spent outside in freezing temperatures waiting for a contact to show up, because routine is never headline news or the basis for a movie thriller. In reality, the villain is never as romantic or mysterious as its representation. It is rarely a gorgeous blond who tries to seduce you — most likely it’s a man who could snap and behave like a truck driver with violent propensities. In real life, however, clandestine operations sometimes overshadow even the most innovative thriller-writer’s imagination. After nearly three decades in the Mossad, Israel’s foreign-intelligence service, retiring as a member of the organization’s top management, I thought I’d seen and heard it all. Haggai has managed to surprise even my skeptical mind with his seamless weaving of fact and fiction that has left me wondering which is which. Haggai found the gentle balance between the dull, plodding reality and the peaks of ingenuity, which makes this story so riveting. Foreign gathering of intelligence is always problematic because governments do not appreciate foreign agents violating their sovereignty. Therefore confidentiality is a must, not only as a precautionary measure against the opposition but also against the wrath of the unsuspecting, uninvolved foreign country’s government. Comprehensive planning, training, the element of surprise, and technical aides assist the agent, but a conniving mind is something you possess, not learn. Haggai’s illustration of Dan Gordon’s maneuvering tactics, self-motivation, and deceitful manners fit the profile of a successful undercover agent. “For by deception thou shalt make thy war,” said King Solomon in Proverbs 24:6.* The Mossad adopted this verse as its motto because it engages in the war of minds, not weapons. Dan Gordon is a perfect example of how that philosophy is applied. Is there a real-life Dan Gordon? I’m sure my former colleagues would love to take him back.