Hello, and welcome to my stop on Howard Kaplan’s “Spy’s Gamble” tour. I’m delighted to be hosting an extract, but first here’s what the book’s about.
About the book:
When the Israeli Prime Minister boards a new stealth submarine in Norfolk, Virginia intending a celebratory ride and the sub vanishes, it sets in motion a suspenseful story that intertwines the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a story of what could be.
Shai Shaham—an Israeli intelligence officer—contacts old friend and adversary Ramzy Awwad—a former PLO intelligence officer and one of the great writers of his people—for help in locating the missing prime minister. But can they trust each other? Can their friendship withstand the turbulent political landscape?
Eli Bardin—an agent who is feeling the strain of being away from his wife and children for so long in the field—is also tasked to contact Ramzy for the help in finding the missing sub. It seems the Russian have great interest in the technology, and he must locate the prime minister…because losing him is a national calamity that threatens to upset a delicate political balance in the most terrifying ways.
Starkly depicting the excesses of both sides and moving through actual events, THE SPY’S GAMBLE relies on in-depth research to weave a thrilling tale of suspense of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
Eli smiled, not much used to modesty in his world, except from his mentor, Shai Shaham, but then again with Shai it could be tradecraft.
Eli caught the four p.m. United Airlines flight out of Newark nonstop to Tel Aviv. After dinner, he took a pill, preferring to store up sleep when he could. Once landed, a little after nine a.m., he made some calls and arranged a night incursion into Al-Am’ari. Excited, he headed for his father’s, where his own eldest son, Yigal, was waiting.
From Ben Gurion International Airport, Eli drove the old Highway 1 at breakneck speed and soon began the ascent to Jerusalem. Ahead of him pines covered the steepening hills. He knew this highway like he knew the lines on his wife’s face. For the next thirty miles the highway curved as it climbed through rocky forests. He passed the famous Burma Road, built by hand at night during the 1948 War of Independence to bypass the Arab blockade of Jerusalem. In 1947, the United Nations had partitioned the land into Jewish and Palestinian states, with Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem one large International Zone. Four Arab armies invaded. Ten months later, Israel stood on sixty percent of the land promised to the Palestinians. Jordan took control of what was left, basically the West Bank and half of Jerusalem. Still, Israel had been paying a high price ever since that no Palestinian state was established.
At random intervals along the highway Eli spotted the nearly seventy-year-old rusted remains of military vehicles from the convoys that failed to break through. Eli wondered if all their focus on preserving memory, which was crucial, also blinded them to the kind of future they needed to build.
Past the Arab village of Abu Gosh, the road dropped then climbed again, offering breathtaking vistas off to the left of the terraced pines flowing up and down mountains and valleys. There was no place in the world that held his heart like Jerusalem. He loved this old highway and disliked the new shortcut with its checkpoints and high concrete walls where it skirted through an edge of the West Bank.
Soon, the road climbed the last ascent and flattened as he entered Jerusalem and he was home. Neighborhoods rose and dipped with the contours of the hills here on this mountain plateau. Neighborhood streets were narrow, the curbs jammed with small cars now that Prime Minister Gutman had removed the stiff vehicle import tax. The country was prospering, but in place of the old pioneering spirit something intangible seemed to have been lost. Eli could not quite put his finger on what it was, a selflessness perhaps, and then he thought he was being silly. A car accident on the highway, everybody still stopped to help.
Past Hebron Road, which led seven kilometers south to Bethlehem in the West Bank, Eli turned through a maze of one-way streets with pines in front of small, limestone apartment buildings, the flower boxes on their balconies red, pink and white with winter cyclamens.
When you lived here in the traffic, the shouting on buses and supermarket lines, it was easy to take the city’s beauty, entirely constructed from limestone as required by local ordinance, for granted, Eli thought. Gone so much, he savored this moment and he consciously drove slower. He approached his father’s building saw an easy parking space a block-and-a-half away. He peered ahead, looking for an even closer one. There was a small space half-a-block away. Eli veered into it head-on, quickly backed into place, jumped out, ran to his father’s building and continued that gait up the inside stairwell.
If that’s caught your interest, the book can be bought here.
About the author:
He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of five novels.
DAMASCUS COVER is now a major motion picture starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sir John Hurt and Olivia Thirlby.