At first glance, a detailed account of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and Aman would hardly seem like a candidate for the American best-seller list. But then, naming some of the names brings to mind the extraordinary exploits of Israel's spies: Eli Cohen's mission in Damascus, the gunboats abducted from Cherbourg, the rescue at Entebbe, the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor, the foiling of Nizar Hindawi's airline bombing, and the killing of Abu Jihad. Of course, the Israelis have had their share of embarrassments and failures too, most notably the Lavon affair in Egypt, the Vananu caper, and the Iran/contra affair.
Every Spy a Prince has several virtues. Raviv and Melman resist the temptation of getting carried away by their subject matter; however sensational the exploits, their prose remains sober and their pace business-like. The authors do not merely document deeds but place them in an institutional and political context.
Best of all, they make serious efforts to reach a balanced assessment of Israel's spies. Reviewing a long list of successes and failures, their verdict is ultimately favorable: Israeli operatives, they write, strive to conduct themselves "in accordance with the goals and requirements set forth when Israel was born." It is hard to take issue with this conclusion.