Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Review: 'The Spy's Gamble' by Howard Kaplan

Los Angles, California author Howard Kaplan is most likely the primary resource for information of the history of the Middle Eastern conflict. He earned his BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and his MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA. Fine academic credentials, but for the authenticity of this book, look to the fact that he has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. And after this incident that follows he is bathed in knowledge of the core of the political corruption: at the age of 21, while attending school in Jerusalem, he was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle out a dissident's manuscript on microfilm. His first trip was a success. On his second trip to the Soviet Union, he was arrested in Khartiv in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and two days in Moscow, before being released. He knows the arena in which he writes as well as anyone writing today. CHOPN EXPRESS underlined his learn from experience knowledge. His initial entry into The Jerusalem Spy Series was THE DAMASCUS COVER (now a motion picture) followed by the equally exciting BULLETS OF PALESTINE. He now updates the mysterious relationship between the US and the Middle East with THE SPY’S GAMBLE.

As is his style Howard offers an Author’s Note to prepare the reader – ‘ The truck ramming of Israeli cadets, the settler Bible Marathon closing Palestinian highways in the West Bank, the murder of an Israeli teen in her bed, an internecine Palestinian assassination, the accidental shooting of a Palestinian cancer patient, forest fires, and the Commanders of Israel newspaper ad depicted in the novel all occurred in 2016-2017. This is further proof of Howard’s immediacy in his topic, polished by some of the finest writing in the genre.

What Howard has been able to accomplish in this `fictionalized' novel is build as secure a bride to understanding the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not only because his facts are so well referenced, but because he humanizes an ordeal many of us still fail to understand. His main characters are a former Palestinian terrorist and an Israeli agent whose shared humanism brings them into focus in a common cause.

The author's fine synopsis cannot be better: ` 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.’

And if that small intro fails to entice the reader to experience this novel, then only words of praise for the prose and style on every page propelling this gripping novel may nudge people to enter this window of understanding of a problem that has consumed our lives for years. Howard Kaplan is an eloquent sculptor of words, but more important, he is the humanitarian spirit that could just begin closing the curtain on a too long play. Very Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.