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Body of Lies: A Novel Paperback – April 17, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039333158X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393331585
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #763,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Displaying his trademark expertise and writing skill, Washington Post columnist Ignatius (Agents of Innocence) has crafted one of the best post-9/11 spy thrillers yet. Subtly framing a highly elaborate plot, Ignatius tells the story of idealistic CIA agent Roger Ferris, newly stationed in Jordan after being wounded in Iraq. After a failed initiative to flush out a terrorist mastermind known as Suleiman, Ferris, who's dedicated to forestalling further al-Qaeda attacks, develops an intricate scheme modeled after a British plan used successfully against the Nazis. Ferris's plot to turn the terrorists against each other by sowing seeds of suspicion that their leaders are collaborating with the Americans puts his personal life in turmoil and threatens his professional relationship with the head of Jordanian intelligence. Few readers will anticipate the jaw-dropping conclusion, and the pairing of first-rate espionage suspense with fully developed characters should propel this onto the bestseller lists and possibly attract Hollywood interest. Author tour. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

David Ignatius, journalist and author of Agents of Innocence, has used his vast knowledge of Middle Eastern politics to write one of the most compelling post-9/11 spy thrillers. While creating psychologically deep characters and painting rich portraits of life in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, he narrates a fast-paced search for a terrorist. A few critics noted, however, that Ignatius bends over backwards not to stereotype his Arab characters (most are wise; few are anti-Semitic), while blatantly criticizing American foreign affairs. Despite these flaws, "One hopes that he has another book in the planning stage and is already filling in form DS-4085, requesting yet more visa pages for his well-worn passport" (Washington Post).

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

David Ignatius, a prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for more than twenty-five years. His novels include Agents of Innocence, Body of Lies, and The Increment. He lives in Washington, DC.

Customer Reviews

This was a very well developed and intruiging thriller.
Robert Stryzinski
As a longtime -- and unabashed -- fan of David Ignatius' novels, I was looking forward to his newest book.
Pranay Gupte
Too much focus on Ferris' (the main character) personal relationships in the book.
Media Man

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Douglas B. Moran on July 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a very bad book, for reasons covered by many of the other negative reviews. However, it was about Chapter 10 that the underlying reason struck me. This wasn't written to be a book, but rather is a precursor to a screenplay for a big budget Hollywood action movie [...] Things that make no sense for a book make perfect sense when viewed as part of a screenplay.

The author is horrible on the "love story" components - it ranges from plodding to painful. Yet the love story is such a large portion of the book that it squeezes out the spy story.

And the spy story seems to be warped to favor visuals and dialog over thinking.

The author does not live up to his reputation as a writer of spy stories (from recommendations - this is the first of his books I read). The implausibilities and nonsense are glaring and far too numerous. The love story destroys the pacing of the spy story. The ending is badly forced (both in pacing and content) - it feels like the author was approaching a deadline and decided he had to wrap it up very quickly.

And especially annoying, the author cheats. When you tell a story from the perspective of one of the characters, you can't suddenly start excluding the reader from that character's conversations as a (lazy) way to create suspense. You can't have characters who are experts at keeping secrets (1) randomly reveal that they have a secret and then (2) reveal it to the main character just because he essentially pleads "Aw come on, tell me" a couple of times. This is a lazy - if not contemptuous (of the reader) - way to reveal information, although the demands of a screenplay may dictate such shortcuts. And you can't have a CIA case officer who is repeatedly incurious about significant events.
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By nwreader on April 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
BODY OF LIES is startlingly contemporary--a story of the front lines of the intelligence war against Al Qaeda by a journalist who has covered both the CIA and Iraq for a quarter of a century. It is at once sobering, touching and invigorating. Fans of Ignatius's earlier works should know that this book is his best; those who have not yet discovered this prolific spy novelist (whose day job is as columnist for THE WASHINGTON POST) should do so. Inside a detailed and authoritative story of how both Western and Arab secret services fight what has been called "the long war" against violent Islamic terror, Ignatius has created a story of identity in the hall of mirrors that is the contemporary Middle East, and a love story that is powerful in its evocation of the ways that love can make us treasure life, and at the same time lay it down for those we love. Cancel your weekend plans; you won't be able to put BODY OF LIES down.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jedrury VINE VOICE on June 16, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After his fine "Agents of Innocence" in 1988, Ignatius, a well regarded columnist for the Washington Post, wrote a string of spy novels which have been genre duds. This latest novel disappoints as well. The protagonist, a CIA operative, finds himself, after a thrilling opening encounter in Iraq, in Jordan working for the agency attempting to infiltrate Al Qaeda, in an on/off standoff with the Jordanian security forces led by a George Clooney-esque leader of impeccable taste, sartorial splendor and ferocious anger. Our hero is caught between his friendship with this all wise/knowing Arab, his agency loyalty to his pushy conniving Rumfeldian supervisor back in Langley, his gorgeous buxom politically connected wife/DOJ lawyer living in Kalorama, and his new little cream puff, a wealthy scion of a New England family who sees the essential goodness in the Palestinians and wants to bring our hero along with her. After methodically setting up a well crafted implementation of the preparation of the central scheme ("The Man Who Never Was") to capture the evil bomber, a la Frederick Forsyth's "The Day of the Jackal," Ignatius blows it by never letting the admittedly clever ploy play itself out in front of the reader, he kills off this beautifully constructed scheme (a body) in a meaningless third party hearsay reference. This, after such an enjoyable buildup, surely kills off the story as an espionage thriller. It is clear by the end that Ignatius never intended to complete the spy thriller, he was more interested in the love story. I should have known this book was going to disappoint when reading the jacket recommendations Chris Matthews praised it as
"an action thriller." Hardly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. Corrigan on August 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having seen David Ignatuis interviewed by Charlie Rose, and seduced by the device of a "loaded" human corpse as a Trojan Horse strategy to convince Al Qaeda that we had somehow infiltrated the core of their network, I eagerly set out to read "Body of Lies." At the outset I realized that the book had something to live up to: Ewen Montagu's World War II classic, "The Man Who Never Was."

Ignatius' book is neither a total failure nor a total success. His strong suit is plotting and holding together a complex and multi-layered concoction of head games, played out by masters to whom the pawns are readily sacrificed, and dismissed. He is weakest in the love angle, where he becomes trite and predictable, getting precariously near to "sudsy" when the love interest of Alice Melville becomes a major focal point.

Against a mounting background of suicide bombing incidents in Europe, Roger Farris, former journalist and present CIA agent devises a plan to plant a suitable corpse, christened Harry Meeker, where Al Qaeda agents will be sure to find it. Harry is decked out with suitable pocket detritus; and he is properly cuffed to a dossier intended to convince higher ups in the terror pecking order that they have been compromised in the worst possible way. The major target is the elusive Suleiman the Magnificent, a less than humble operating ID for Al Qaeda's principal bombing strategist.

There are plot distractions that demand a fair bit of suspension of disbelief, as when Farris' boss, Hoffman, yanks him back to D.C. from his Jordanian posting, a bit more than seems plausible. This observation particularly applies once the reader has met, and begun to appreciate, the brilliance and guile of Hani Salaam, chief of Jordanian intelligence.
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