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The exciting story of the Exodus ship that in 1947 ferried 4,500 Jewish war refugees to the Zionist homeland.

Despite the urgent need for relocating concentration-camp survivors and displaced persons (DP) at the end of World War II, Britain refused to allow more than 1,500 immigrants per month to Palestine. The Jewish underground army, the Haganah, secured the boats necessary for transporting waves of refugees to Palestine, such as the large Chesapeake steamer, President Warfield. Veteran popular historian Thomas (Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6, 2009, etc.) moves swiftly from one scene to the other to keep his suspenseful story percolating, using a wealth of information gleaned from official archives, news reports, public records, British intelligence documents and interviews with passengers. The author paints a complete portrait of a variety of settings: within the Haganah headquarters in Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street, as well as its outposts in New York, including the basement of the Copacabana nightclub, called the Kibbutz Fourteen, where Zionist leaders like Golda Meir stayed; DP camps across Europe; and the office of the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin as he coordinated naval resistance to the “smuggling of illegal immigrants” into Palestine. Thomas looks at the outfitting of the President Warfield by U.S. volunteers, its refitting and slow odyssey in May 1947 from Baltimore harbor to Marseilles, where thousands of refugees at nearby DP camps were ready to board the ship built for holding 400 passengers—all the while tracked by British intelligence. The author then recounts the harrowing trip from July through September, as the now-christened Exodus 1947 was rammed by British destroyers and forcibly boarded, then detoured back to France and Germany before the refugees were finally allowed into Palestine almost a year later.


SECRET WARS: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6


Two famous British institutions will celebrate their centenaries in 2009: the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI5 and MI6. They maintain an aura of secrecy, a touch of sophistication and a hint of melodrama even in this age of populist candor. Thomas (Descent into Danger), who enjoys justified respect as an authority on the intelligence world, has a broad spectrum of contacts and confidants in both services. He taps their memories and insights in this reconstruction of Britain's intelligence operations from the Age of Empire through the cold war and into today's constantly metamorphosing Islamic challenge. The emphasis on personal evidence at the expense of archival sources gives the work an anecdotal tone and a contemporary focus that makes the subtitle misleading. Both are compensated for by the immediacy of the material and the vividness of the narration, presenting a fascinating cast of moles and double agents, whistle-blowers and politicians. For the ambience of the closed world that inspired James Bond and George Smiley, this book is a winner.


Authoritative history of Britain’s spy services by a veteran who has been writing about “the Great Game” for 50 years.

Thomas (Secrets and Lies: A History of CIA Mind Control and Germ Warfare, 2007, etc.) has a keen sense of historical context and a solid understanding of the renewed urgency of intelligence in the age of global terrorism. His basic argument is that the intelligence services of Britain and other democracies will benefit from greater transparency in their operations, which will reduce fears that the agencies will trample on civil liberties. MI5 (responsible for internal security) and MI6 (the foreign secret service) were founded simultaneously in August 1909, partly via the advocacy of Home Secretary Winston Churchill, in the face of perceived threats from German spies and Irish nationalism. By 1914, MI5 had created a file of 16,000 aliens, 11,000 of them German. By the time World War II began, MI5 and MI6 were clearly vital to Britain’s security. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt sent William Donovan to receive guidance on founding the OSS (forerunner to the CIA), in exchange for secret wartime assistance. Thomas captures the agencies’ intriguing mixture of formal tradition—caricatured in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels—and post-1960s flexibility, which included a long-overdue openness to women that culminated in Stella Rimington’s elevation to the directorship of MI5 in 1992, as well as use of new surveillance technologies first embraced by American intelligence organizations. Another strength of this book is its depiction of the complex interplay among MI5, MI6 and the intelligence services of foreign nations, primarily the United States, but also Russia, France, Saudi Arabia and many others. Numerous anecdotes portray these relationships as mixtures of mutual assistance and not-so-secret rivalries. In particular, the 1963 defection of pro-Soviet traitor Kim Philby caused decades of mutual mistrust with the CIA, which only ebbed with the close of the Cold War.

A well-written page-turner that demystifies the notoriously foggy “wilderness of mirrors.”


United Press International

Magnificent journalism. It is writing, the kind of reportage that if Gordon Thomas were an American-born writer would earn him a Pulitzer Prize.   

GQ Magazine

A fascinating look at a spy organisation that had remained off limits to most journalists. Some of the incredible episodes Gordon Thomas writes about seem like they belong in fiction but this is a first-rate nonfiction account.

Publishers Weekly

Riveting, written with passion, it should be widely read.

Toronto Globe and Mail

Investigative journalism at its very best. This book exposes all and flinches from nothing as it delves deep into the doctors who torture.

Publishers Weekly

An extraordinary investigative coup...reads like a thriller.

Le Monde

This book will remain a benchmark for all time about the need to expose the dark side of the medical profession.

Paris Match

A powerful indictment of our society and the way it is secretly organised in our name.

Vancouver Sun

An extraordinary book about an extraordinary subject. Anyone with a thirst for understanding the complex relationship between medicine and secret intelligence will find this consuming.


The New York Times

Suspense, love, despair, unexpected acts of kindness mixed with treachery. Voyage of the Damned tells one of the most poignant stories in the long march to the furnace of Hitler’s Holocaust..An extraordinary human document and a suspense story that is hard to put down. But it is more than that. It is a modern allegory, in which the St Louis becomes a symbol of the SS Planet Earth. In this larger sense the book serves a greater purpose than mere drama.

The New York Sunday Times

A deeply moving and gripping account that poses moral questions as relevant now as they were then. It deserves a wide audience because this is re-telling of a tragedy that holds lessons for us all.

Associated Press of America

A book that should be published for all time, for all people, for all future generations. It stands alone in the annals of factual, objective reportage.

The Times (UK)

There have been 10.000 books, and more, written on Holocaust. Few can match this dramatic saga – all the more powerful for being told in a cool and swiftly moving way.