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Fallout: The True Story of the CIA's Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 4, 2011

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Investigative journalists Collins and Frantz, who documented how rogue Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan created a nuclear black market in 2007™s The Nuclear Jihadist, return to the subject in this sobering, true-life œpart spy story, part cautionary tale. The authors focus this time on the CIA™s participation in œa massive cover-up to prevent public disclosure of its passive role in Khan™s proliferation activities. For years the CIA had Khan under constant surveillance, but instead of moving to shut down his œnuclear bazaar, the CIA and policymakers watched and discussed how and when to act. Collins and Frantz conclude that œthe CIA was addicted to information, not action. When the agency finally moved to roll up Khan™s global proliferation ring, it sought to conceal the œbad judgments and operational errors that allowed the ring to flourish for years. Nuclear proliferation is one of our era™s critical issues, and Collins and Frantz™s exposé makes a timely contribution to how institutional errors and bad calls in Washington have left America more vulnerable to global terrorism. (Feb.)
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About the Author

Catherine Collins has been a foreign correspondent and reporter for the Chicago Tribune and written for the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. She has authored several books with her husband, Douglas Frantz, including The Man from Pakistan and Death on the Black Sea.

Douglas Frantz was the former managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, where he was a business reporter, an investigative reporter and a foreign correspondent based in Istanbul. He has also been a reporter for The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He was part of a team which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, in addition to which he is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist, and as won several honors for his investigative reporting. He is now an investigator for the U.S. Congress.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439183066
  • ASIN: B0057DASWA
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,960,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on February 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this gripping book, the authors tell us about the global nuclear market ,rogue scientists who are offering their trade and secrets to the highest bidders, CIA agents who steal secrets and burglarize their opponents' and allies' houses, as well as people in high places, counterintelligence agents, case officers, arms dealers, policy-makers and many other murky figures involved in the second oldest profession in the world, namely that of espionage.
The main villain here is a Pakistani scientist ,A.Q.Khan, who has successfully built an international network which has been responsible for becoming a plarform for the selling of nuclear capabilities to various countries-most of them those which have the potential of distributing weapons of mass destrucion and which could easily be classified as rogue states ,the majority being Islamic ones. The core of the book is about the recruitment of the Tinners, a Swiss family that served as Khan's associates, but was also used by the CIA as a conduit in supplying some essential information about the nuclear market to the USA and its allies. Khan's world was regarded as a huge Wal-Mart shop.
The main thesis of the book is in the form of a strong indictment against the CIA which tried to see reality not as it is, but as it wants it to be. The main phrase used here is composed of two words: cover-ups. The truth about the possibility of dangerous elements in getting nuclear weapons was not intended to be shared by the American people. The Agency did not work in a vacuum but was abetted by the relevant Washington policy-makers during the years of 1995-2009.
This book reads like a first-rate thriller and is well written, although understandibly undocumented. However, this does not detract from its importance and will be another significant addition to the literature of intelligence and its role in world politics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Beverly A. Ramsey on February 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I work in a national laboratory and have access to information that confirms what is contained within this book. It is excellent and I recommend it to people who are really interested in how much of the nuclear materials proliferation has occurred.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sara T on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Fallout" reads like a spy novel but it is the scary truth--first rate reporting about the CIA's missteps and mishandling of the nuclear weapons traffickers who peddled how-to guides to the most dangerous countries in the world. Before fashioning a solution--if there is one-- it would be a good idea to learn how in the world the world got into this mega mess. Collins and Frantz lay that out with impressive detail and documentation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brett A. Fishwild on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have read many books in this general field of nuclear weapons and found this one to be an okay read, though very boring over the middle 1/3 of the book. The story deals with the CIA's use of one specific family inside the A.Q. Khan network to bring down the nuclear design and manufacturing equipment purveyor, and their ensuing legal conflict with the Swiss homeland of that family. The overall theme is that the CIA in actuality enabled the proliferation of the technology, falling victim to a systemic attitude problem inherent in the intelligence community.

Whatever your views on this topic or how much of the information we must take on face value, there is some interesting information here about the geopolitics of the time. For those with some knowledge of nuclear technology, there isn't much new or detail technical information contained in this book but that isn't really the intent of the authors. What little technical discussions they do engage in detracts from the experience, due to oblique and incomplete references.

I gave this book 3 stars because of the format and editorial style. EVERY single chapter is simply the name of the country where that particular discussion centers. The chapters then really loose any usable structure, I simply didn't care. The names all run together and repeat. Then the overall narrative gets lost, I had a hard time understanding what the time stamp was for some sections. The incidents go back and forth, not very readable. And finally the writing was just like a history textbook, here's what happened on this day, then this happened on this day, then this on the next day. I really glossed over the middle 1/3 of the book and didn't loose anything for it.

It's an okay read, worth knowing the information, but don't expect it to intensely grip your interest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William C. Rempel on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
FALLOUT is a must-read for those curious about real-life spy craft but also daring enough to contemplate the real-life consequences of CIA shortcomings in its secret war on nuclear trafficking. From early in this highly readable narrative, Collins and Frantz provide fascinating glimpses of colorful characters and the small human dramas behind otherwise momentous and ominous developments in international security. They even illuminate rare realms of the always-murky world of espionage. But most significantly, Fallout delivers an investigative expose. It reveals in stark detail for the first time the coups and cover-ups, the successes and ultimate failures of efforts to protect us all from the reckless ambitions of rogue Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan - the evil Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book deals with a very serious subject that should concern us all.
It is not a glamorous story that can be enjoyed on a long airplane trip.
The book reads like a textbook, is at times tedious and repetitive.
It offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a CIA operation, without revealing any
major secrets and leaves some questions unanswered. We don't know what we do not know.
It also provides an illuminating insight in America's hamhandedness in dealing
with foreign governments. Not our strong point.
Over all, an educational, if somewhat boring read.
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