The Volunteer: A Canadian's Secret Life in the Mossad Hardcover – Apr 3 2007
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A Globe and Mail and Maclean’s bestseller
“A powerful memoir.”
— National Post
"[A] gripping story, filled with the stuff of spy thrillers. . . . this book provides a unique glimpse into a shadowy world not many of us will ever see."
— Globe and Mail
"For those who want insight into one of the world's best secret services, this book is must reading, as much for what it doesn't reveal as for what it does. And it does reveal a great deal."
— Winnipeg Free Press
“[A] sobering insider’s take on global politics and the terrorist threat.”
— Quill and Quire
“[It’s] Bond in a T-shirt and slippers. Whether or not one should tell tales out of school, ‘Michael Ross’ tells them effortlessly. He and Jonathan Kay have produced a page-turner, filled with well-observed, convincing detail.”
— George Jonas, author of Vengeance (the book that inspired the film Munich)
About the Author
Michael Ross is a native of Victoria, British Columbia. He served as a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces prior to being recruited as an undercover agent in the Mossad. While working for the Mossad, Ross was a “combatant,” a term designating an agent working under non-official cover. He also operated as a case officer in Africa and Asia for three years, and was the Mossad’s counterterrorism liaison officer to the CIA and FBI for two-and-a-half years. Ross is a published writer, with articles recently placed in both the National Post and the Globe and Mail on Middle Eastern affairs and terrorism. He lives in Victoria.
In writing this memoir, Ross is assisted by Jonathan Kay, a managing editor and op-ed columnist at Canada’s National Post newspaper and regular contributor to the New York Post and Commentary magazine. He has won two National Newspaper Awards. Jonathan Kay lives in Toronto.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Michael Ross, being Canadian born, grew up in Victoria, British Columbia and joined the army at the age of 17. At the age of 21 he left the military and decided to travel for a bit. He eventually found his way to Israel where he would eventually meet his wife. While in Israel he worked hard to become a Jewish citizen, which required him to spend countless hours studying Hebrew and the Bible.
Not too long after getting married, he was enlisted in the Israeli military and eventually recruited to the Mossad where he went through intense training to adjust to the rigorous lifestyle of a spy.
Ross shares his experiences and feelings during the fifteen or so years he spent with the Mossad, both as a field agent and as a liaison officer in Tel Aviv. He often mentions the strain his career put on his family. One particular experience while working in Europe he mentions, "I'd felt the strain between my two competing identities - the real and the fake... I'd deliberately avoided anything approaching true friendship. All the parts that made me a real person... had been put in boxes and stored in another country." So in 1997 he took a desk job in Tel Aviv in order to spend more time with his wife and kids. While there he worked closely with the CIA and FBI to locate common targets of both nations. Eventually he went back to working as a field officer in Southwest Asia and Africa until he retired in 2001.
I personally enjoyed the book a great deal as I was able to imagine his experiences in my mind. It was insightful to read about real experiences that took place in the intelligence field and although Ross withholds information about industry secrets, the reader is able to gain a sense of appreciation of all that has taken place in the past. Ross is open with his feelings about each mission, which helps to add a touch of familiarity that the average person can relate to in a small way. If you are looking for a book to read which will keep you turning the page and on your toes, then I recommend reading The Volunteer.
THE VOLUNTEER is an intriguing tale of a North American who, as a young college grad not long out of the Canadian army, ended a European vacation with a side-trip to Israel. He ended up falling in love with a kibbutznik and a country--and becoming an Israeli. Which meant he had to serve in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).
Michael Ross is obviously not only very intelligent but his skills in the IDF brought him to the attention of an unspecified Israeli government agency, and he was invited to an interview for he knew not what. The upshot was he entered rigorous further training and served two decades in the Mossad.
His clear conversational writing tells an evolving tale, complete with spy tidbits that, while intriguing, don't give away the store. Two aspects of that tale deserve mention. He reiterates the Israeli creed of not harming innocents. Also, he openly describes the emotional toll the life of an undercover agent exacts, describing boredom, fear, the stress of separation from family, and ambivalence towards various missions.
This is a very human account of a job that is all-too-often romanticized. It is definitely a recommended read!
By Olivia Rodan Jacobs, author of THE POISONER'S AGENDA