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Operation Shakespeare

Operation Shakespeare

The True Story of an Elite International Sting

On today’s high-tech battlefields, the most lethal weapons are not the big ones, but rather the ones that are small enough to be smuggled inside a pack of chewing gum. Microchips. Gyroscopes. Radar-cloaking and night-vision technology. Developed and manufactured in the United States at extraordinary cost, these tiny weapons of war—which can guide missiles, see through walls, and trigger anything from a wireless IED to a nuclear weapon—are what currently give the U.S. its military advantage. Unfortunately, they are increasingly being discovered in the hands of our enemies.

In Operation Shakespeare, Pulitzer Prize finalist John Shiffman tells the true story of an elaborate sting operation launched by an elite Homeland Security team that was created to stop Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea from stealing U.S. military technology. The sting, codenamed Operation Shakespeare to disguise its true nature, targets an Iranian arms broker who works on behalf of Tehran. Over the course of three years, the American agents go undercover to outwit not only the Iranian, but U.S. defense contractors and bankers willing to put profit over national security. The chase moves around the world, from Philadelphia to Shiraz, London to Dubai, Beverly Hills to Tbilisi. A mysterious British informant helps the U.S. team lure the Iranian to a former Soviet republic. The Iranian walks into the sting carrying a laptop containing a road map to Tehran’s secret military plans. As the United States tries to bring the Iranian to justice, his own government plots to assassinate him, fearful of what he might reveal.

More than a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase, Operation Shakespeare opens our eyes to a vast secret war the United States is waging across the globe. How does rocket guidance technology that is manufactured in California wind up in the hands of terrorists in Lebanon? How do IED triggers travel from the factories of Arizona to insurgents on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan? In addition to answering questions like these, Operation Shakespeare reveals how many of the world’s biggest banks have systematically helped enemy states conceal trillions of dollars’ worth of wire transactions over the past decades. Shiffman also bares others who put profits over U.S. troops, including a major corporation that hands night vision secrets to China and an American scientist who helps Beijing develop stealth technology.

Tenacious, richly detailed, and boasting unprecedented access to both the Iranian broker and the U.S. agents who caught him, Operation Shakespeare combines the rigor of the best investigative journalism with the drama of Homeland. The result is a fast-paced, masterful account of a little-explored front in the national security wars: the covert struggle to preserve American military supremacy and protect U.S. troops.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451655131 | 
  • July 2014
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About the Author

John Shiffman

John Shiffman is an investigative reporter for Reuters. He worked as a staff writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer from 2003 to 2011, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of Operation Shakespeare and with former FBI agent Robert Wittman, he coauthored Priceless, a New York Times bestseller published in nine languages. He is a lawyer and lives near Washington, DC.

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