Shabtai Shavit, director of the Mossad from 1989 to 1996, is one of the most influential leaders to shape the recent history of the State of Israel. In this exciting and engaging book, Shavit combines memoir with sober reflection to reveal what happened during the seven years he led what is widely recognized today as one of the most powerful and proficient intelligence agencies in the world. Shavit provides an inside account of his intelligence and geostrategic philosophy, the operations he directed, and anecdotes about his family, colleagues, and time spent in, among other places, the United States as a graduate student and at the CIA.
Shavit’s tenure occurred during many crucial junctures in the history of the Middle East, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War era; the first Gulf War and Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s navigation of the state and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the conflict; the peace agreement with Jordan, in which the Mossad played a central role; and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Shavit offers a broad sweep of the integral importance of intelligence in these historical settings and reflects on the role that intelligence can and should play in Israel's future against Islamist terrorism and Iran’s eschatological vision.
Head of the Mossad is a compelling guide to the reach of and limits facing intelligence practitioners, government officials, and activists throughout Israel and the Middle East. This is an essential book for everyone who cares for Israel’s security and future, and everyone who is interested in intelligence gathering and covert action.
Shabtai Shavit has over fifty years of experience in international security and counterterrorism and is an internationally recognized authority in the field. He served in the Mossad, Israel’s prestigious intelligence agency, for thirty-two years, eventually rising to the position of director. Previously, he served in the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, retiring after a distinguished service in “Sayeret Matkal,” Israel’s elite special forces and SWAT unit.
"The book captures the thoughtful and lucid reflections of the former director of the Mossad regarding the role that intelligence can and should play in the decision-making process in Israel." —Clive Jones, author of Britain and the Yemen Civil War, 1962–1965
"Shabtai Shavit's firsthand account is fascinating, a compelling read for historians, intelligence professionals, and those of us who enjoy a real-life spy thriller." —Martin S. Indyk, former American ambassador to Israel
"Head of the Mossad is a gripping book drilling deep down into central intelligence issues. I highly recommend reading this truly special book." —Eli Amir, author of Jasmine and Scapegoat
"In Head of the Mossad, Shabtai Shavit gives a sneak peek of the critical junctions of Israel's recent security history through his personal story. The book is certainly a great resource for academics and practitioners or anyone interested in intelligence and security, Israel and the Middle East, or geopolitics." —Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya
“A well-documented . . . logistical delineation of decades of sensitive Israeli security and intelligence concerns. Among other significant historical events, Shavit’s tenure coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the First Intifada, the Oslo Accords, and the election and assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.“ —Kirkus Reviews
"Shavit, 80, who among other roles as he rose through the service spent two-and-a-half years living in Iran, has not written an operations memoir. Eschewing whatever revealing tales of spying derring-do he may be able to tell, he focuses instead largely on doctrine and assessment, as the book’s subtitle has it, 'In Pursuit of a Safe and Secure Israel.'" —The Times of Israel
“Time has passed since Shavit ran the Mossad, but his experience and insight are still nearly unmatched.” —The Jerusalem Post
"When a former head of the highly secretive Israeli Mossad publishes a political memoir it becomes a newsworthy event, making this book especially important. . . . In this gripping memoir, which reads like a spy novel, Mr. Shavit writes about his role in closely witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War, the Oslo peace process with the Palestinians and then with Jordan, as well as the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995." —Perspectives on Terrorism
"[Head of the Mossad] is a book that has to be studied closely; it’s not a casual read. It [is] written for students of history and foreign affairs." —Ami Magazine
"Shabtai Shavit, at age 81, might have been tempted to satisfy our appetite for action, but he has chosen instead to focus his memoir on the Mossad’s analytical musculature. . . . A large part of Shavit’s book considers significant changes leading to 'a new Middle East.' . . . With a dash of color here and there, he defends the notion that delicate diplomacy must begin with clandestine contacts." —Moment
"When a former head of the highly secretive Israeli Mossad publishes a political memoir it becomes a newsworthy event, making this book especially important." —Small Wars Journal
Foreword Review's INDIES Book of the Year Award, War & Military