‘Operation Shakespeare’ Will Blow Your Mind! [REVIEW]

In John Shiffman’s Operation Shakespeare: The True Story of an Elite International Sting, the Pulitzer Prize finalist explains how government agencies such as the FBICommerce and Homeland Security work together to combat the growing threat that arises when U.S. military technology is sold to Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea.

Operation Shakespeare cover

Simon & Schuster

I really appreciated the way Shiffman conveyed this information. It wasn’t too simple and yet was not so technical that I got lost in the jargon. Because of this, Operation Shakespeare reads more like a spy novel with political overtones rather than a dry news piece.

In the course of this book, I learned several facts which surprised me. For instance, “every year, U.S. authorities announce about 30 or 40 arrests for military technology smuggling, mostly in the United States.” Who would sell these secrets? According to Shiffman’s research, several international banks help people such as the main character, Ardebili “to skirt U.S. restrictions” since 1986 “when President Reagan first imposed restrictions on financial transactions with Libya.”

Let’s not forget the U.S. Defense contractors in this equation either. During the deployment of Operation Shakespeare, several companies such as International Telephone and Telegraph Night Vision (ITT-NV) violated U.S. export laws as well as a few university professors.

John Shiffman

Philadelphia Inquirer

While the background information is easy to understand, the description of key characters in the book is also well written. In fact, John  Malandra, the group supervisor for the counter-proliferation unit in Homeland Security, is a very believable person. “Malandra was universally respected, but not always loved. He had a quick temper and became exasperated with agents he believed lazy or stupid. If Malandra liked you, he’d do almost anything to help you. If he didn’t, he might pass you in a hallway without so much as a hello.”

Then there is Dave Hall who assisted in the execution of “Operation Shakespeare.” He earned an MBA from Yale, entered the special Navy Officer Commission Program, then received his law degree. “He quickly embraced the Navy’s clearly stated core creeds: leadership courage, honor, commitment. To Hall, these precepts were more than words on a mission statement, and he liked that they were an important part of the evaluation process.”

These are just a few of the men who really came alive in Shiffman‘s account. They could be related to you or a neighbor or an acquaintance However, what remains evident to me is their devotion and commitment to stop military secrets from being sold to the highest bidder. I am amazed by the account that is as terrifying as it is troubling. Therefore, if you enjoy reading a fast paced, espionage thriller, Operation Shakespeare is the book for you!

I hope you enjoy the interview Jathan and I produced for WBSM’s Midday Magazine featuring Phil Paleologos.

As originally featured on Fun107.com. 


About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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