Robert Maxwell, Israel's Superspy: The Life and Murder of a Media Mogul

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The world knows only half the story of British media magnate Robert Maxwell's well-publicized career. He was born poor but thrived on ruthless ambition, devoured his competitors and outsmarted his most formidable peers to build an international empire as a publisher, politician, and industrialist. For the first time, this well-researched book from best-selling author Gordon Thomas and terrorism expert Martin Dillon tells the other, long-secret half of Maxwell's story. We are shown how Maxwell achieved his topmost...

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The world knows only half the story of British media magnate Robert Maxwell's well-publicized career. He was born poor but thrived on ruthless ambition, devoured his competitors and outsmarted his most formidable peers to build an international empire as a publisher, politician, and industrialist. For the first time, this well-researched book from best-selling author Gordon Thomas and terrorism expert Martin Dillon tells the other, long-secret half of Maxwell's story. We are shown how Maxwell achieved his topmost objective as a superspy for Israel's Mossad; sold PROMIS—America's state-of-the-art surveillance software stolen by Mossad—to the USSR and many other countries; recruited foremost Republican Senator John Tower to acquire for Israel top-secret, cutting-edge U.S. technology being developed at Los Alamos; cultivated his vast KGB connections and strove to involve Israel in a coup to oust Mikhail Gorbachev; and how Maxwell ultimately became Mossad's target in an elaborately prepared assassination plot. For in November 1991, as his yacht cruised offshore of the Canary Islands, the life of Robert Maxwell ended—officially, by drowning. The facts that the news media did not then report or know, what truths even the autopsies concealed, are now revealed. Eight pages of black-and-white illustrations add to this compelling work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1991, British media tycoon Robert Maxwell died in mysterious circumstances off his yacht in the Canary Islands. The official cause of death was drowning, but this intriguing, if somewhat overreaching, investigative work argues that Maxwell died at the hands of the spy agency he worked for, Israel's Mossad. Thomas (Gideon's Spies) and Dillon (Shankill Butchers) have little sympathy for Maxwell-they build an unflattering portrait of an overweight and vain man who rose from a pre-WWII Jewish childhood in Czechoslovakia and England to become one of the world's most powerful media barons. Using a wealth of international sources-Israeli and British intelligence, for instance, both named and anonymous-the authors argue that Maxwell helped the Mossad steal intelligence-gathering software from the U.S. and then sold it around the world. They also depict Maxwell's involvement in several other international intrigues, including an attempt to involve the Jewish state in the 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. Much of the book has a breathless tone, particularly when the authors describe, in detail, the night of Maxwell's death. The Mossad "whacked" Maxwell, they say, because he tried to extort money from them to get out of debt. Some readers might find the depiction of the Mossad at times hard to believe, such as the suggestion that the spy agency was entangled in the death of Sen. John Tower. But those interested in the world of international intrigue will find themselves engrossed. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1923, Maxwell joined the British army in World War II and fought in Europe. After the war, he became involved in several publishing ventures and eventually built a huge, if financially shaky, publishing empire. He became a part of the international jet-set business community, and, according to this book, also led a secret life as a top-drawer spy helping Israel with contacts in Russia, the United States, and Europe, all the while quietly siphoning off money in convoluted business deals and alliances with organized crime. Authors Thomas (Gideon's Spies ) and Dillon (The Dirty War) state that the high-flying Maxwell threatened to publicize his ties to the Israelis if they did not find a way to provide him with sufficient cash for his many angry creditors. To end the threat, the Mossad supposedly faked his suicide in November 1991 on his yacht in the Atlantic. Other mysterious deaths and complex criminal schemes are also linked to Maxwell in a tangled web that even includes the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. Although based on numerous interviews with shadowy figures from the world of international finance and Israeli intelligence, this book somehow winds up on the persuasive side. An intriguing, Ludlum-like tale suitable for all libraries. (Index and photos not seen.)-Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
Kirkus Reviews
A shaky case that British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, a giant in his own eyes if not his bankers’, might have been given some help in dying when he tumbled from his yacht off the Canaries in 1991. Thomas (Gideon’s Spies, 1999, etc.) and Dillon (The Dirty War, 1999, etc.) have both long been writing on the nasty subterranean world of intelligence operations, and here they posit that Maxwell did not drown at all, but rather was the object of an Israeli hit squad after he, ostensibly, threatened Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, with disclosing their joint activities if they didn’t pony up some big money to stave off Maxwell’s creditors. It was no secret that Maxwell was a friend of the Israeli state, dishing out financial advice and assistance with largesse, but he was also the Israelis’ conduit for disseminating a leading-edge piece of surveillance software to secret-service organizations in places like Canada, the old USSR, Zimbabwe, and Guatemala (even Osama bin Laden ultimately got one). Mossad had tricked out the software with a "trapdoor" that would allow them to listen in. Obvious fans of the spy game, Thomas and Dillon lard the story with loads of peripheral intelligence details, perhaps fascinating but not germane; address Maxwell’s many financial shenanigans; and delve into vile details his personal hygiene, all to keep up the reader’s interest in what amounts to the unscintillating tale of the Mossad using a friend to gain access to high places. There is just no conclusive proof that Maxwell died after being injected with a "lethal nerve agent." The avalanche of minutiae only underscores the tenuousness of the assertions, and the tale drifts along on Maxwell’s paranoia,bullying, and general unpleasantness, so undesirable a character that readers won’t care how he met his end, just as long as he did. (8-page photo insert)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786712953
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,557,250
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    The Man Who Sold the World

    If there was a man who could sell anything, that man would be Robert Maxwell--officially the world's leading media mogul, and unofficially the Mossad's lead diplomat. However, after stealing cutting US technology software from Los Alamos and nearly devising a coup in the former Soviet Union, the fat, flamboyant Maxwell grew in circles of suspicion as a spy for perhaps the best intelligence agency on Earth-Israel's Mossad. As he got into debt, affiliated with Russian Mafiya, and threatening to expose his true espionage identity, his fate was sealed. Off the Canary Islands, the kidon of the Mossad dispatched his life, and the secrets of Maxwell will be forever lost. He will not be missed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2004

    Excellent Research

    This is the story of the downfall of Robert Maxwell, a man who had almost everything that a simple mortal could dream to, a family, a billionarie business, fame, important business and political contacts but his huge megalomaniac complex pushed him to play several dangerous games wirh the espionage of Israel and the underworld factions of the East mafias and espionage agencies of the communist block but his biggest mistake was try to play the blackmail game which put in jeopardy the security of the state of Israel and the Mossad agents around the world forcing them to 'eliminate' him. Even though this is a wonderful work of investigation, I have some doubts about the sole responsability of Israel in this crime because of his several contacts within Wall Street and the City of London moguls, the eastern mafias and the most important polititians of the world that he could put in danger with his downfall as a businessman or as a blackmailer, also it is very suspicious that many close collaborators died in misterious or sudden death.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2003

    A possibly unreliable book

    The goal of investigative journalism is to be accurate in its conclusions. It¿s that accuracy that is supposed to give validity to the author¿s findings. In the case of Robert Maxwell Israel¿s Superspy, it¿s the sloppiness of the printed text as well as mis-statements of fact that causes one to doubt the reliability of the author¿s story. The book is replete with typographical errors. Where were the proof readers? There are factual errors, too, for example, the 1995 assassination of Fathi Shikaki that the authors state took place in 1985 that cause the reader to wonder if the authors have any idea of what they are writing.

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