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Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force--The NYPD [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Dickey
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The NYPD is the best and most ambitious antiterror operation in the world. Its seat-of-the-pants intelligence is the gold standard for all others.

Christopher Dickey, who has reported on international terrorism for more than twenty-five years, takes readers into the secret command center of the New York City Police Department's counterterrorism division, then onto the streets with cops ready for the toughest urban combat the twenty-first century can throw at them. But behind the tactical shows of force staged by the police, there lies a much more ambitious and controversial strategy: to go anywhere and use almost any means to keep the city from becoming, once again, Ground Zero. This is the story of the coming war in America's cities and New York's shadow war, waged around the globe to stop it before it begins.

Drawing on unparalleled access to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and other top officials, Dickey explores the most ambitious intelligence operation ever organized by a metropolitan police department. Headed by David Cohen, who ran the CIA's operations inside the United States in the 1980s and its global spying in the 1990s, the NYPD's counterterrorism division had uptotheminute details of new attacks set in motion to target Manhattan in 2002 and 2003.

New York's finest are now seen by other police chiefs in the United States as the gold standard for counterterrorism operations and a model for even the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Yet as New Yorkers have come to feel safer, they've also grown worried about the NYPD's methods: sending its undercover agents to spy on Americans in other cities, rounding up hundreds of protesters preemptively before the 2004 Republican convention, and using confidential informants who may be more adept at plotting terror than the people they finger.

Securing the City is a superb investigative reporter's stunning look inside the real world of cops who are ready to take on the world and at the ambiguous price we pay for the safety they provide.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With an informed eye on the history of New York City as a leading target of world terrorism, Dickey, Newsweek's Paris bureau chief and Middle East regional editor, chronicles the effectiveness and resources of the high-tech intelligence operation of the New York Police Department. He speaks without bias of hard-nosed veterans Raymond Kelly, the pragmatic NYPD police commissioner, and David Cohen, a former CIA analyst, who formed the counterterrorism division, which watches over the city with more than 600 cops and operatives stationed stateside and around the world. As Cohen says: There's a plot taking shape on New York City every day of every week since 9/11. Dickey examines the history of terrorism in the city, but poses the thorny question of surveillance vs. civil liberties (e.g., helicopters whose cameras can look directly into specific apartments) since the 2001 World Trade Center tragedy and the Madrid and London bombings. In the increasingly crowded field of war on terror books, Dickey's (Summer of Deliverance: A Memoir of Father and Son) measured meditation on a secured city and its vigilant police force stands out as one of the best. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Revealing and nerve-rattling." -- The New York Times

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cops and Terrorists February 9, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a rare moment of lucidity observed that fighting terrorism was 90 per cent intelligence and police work with the implication that military operations would account for only 10 per cent of the effort. Although this observation was forgotten in the ill conceived and ill managed Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), it still remains true. Most experts on counter-terrorism and on terrorist movements have maintained that fighting terrorism is a job for some combination of intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They also have noted that it is only through international cooperation between such agencies that transnational terrorist threats can be countered.

All of the preceding is by way of introduction to this rather interesting book. It is an anecdotal puff piece on the successful response to terrorism developed by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) since 9/11. In fact if read closely this book provides a resounding argument supporting Rumsfled's observation. Because their focus is entirely on protecting New York, the NYPD was able to develop an effective intelligence program that provides direct and timely support to tactical forces. By exercising the street knowledge of beat cops, standard police surveillance and investigative techniques, and the very diversity of New York as mirrored in the NYPD, the force has been able to develop an extremely effective counter-terrorism program. As a local force, the NYPD has been able to conduct operations normally forbidden to federal agencies such as the FBI. In another break with federal level operations the NYPD has developed working relationships with foreign police services around the world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review from The Economist March 15, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book based on The Economist's review (see it below). There is plenty of food for thought here about how best to counteract terror. One of the most positive and comforting parts of this story: New York and America continue to benefit from immigration. Contrary to what many think, the safest cities are those with immigrants. The American dream is alive in NYC and keeping it alive is the best anti-terror policy of all. The NYPD has taken some interesting and innovative approaches to combating terror--if you're interested in the topic you'll find the book thought provoking.

NYPD's fighting force
Feb 12th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The NYPD offers an alternative to the highly militarised war on terror

It is not often that a city has its very own counter-terrorist force. But since the attacks of September 11th 2001, New York has felt uniquely vulnerable--and uniquely entitled to special protection. In a vivid and thought-provoking book about the years since the twin towers collapsed, Christopher Dickey analyses how the New York Police Department (NYPD) counter-terrorism division has made itself one of the best in the business.

This did not happen easily or without resistance. The NYPD's commissioner, Ray Kelly, a former marine, and his intelligence chief, David Cohen, who had worked for the CIA, faced considerable opposition in building their team. The principal aim was to use human intelligence to prevent future attacks. To achieve that they had to gather accurate and detailed information about al-Qaeda and other groups, and learn from the attacks they launched overseas.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
*"When you catch a terrorist and look at the map in his or her pocket, it is always a map of New York; it's not a map of some other place."
*"Mayor Michael Bloomberg, July 2006"*


This book intricately details not only the changes that the NYPD deemed necessary post 9/11 to keep its own citizens... as well... as the world's peace loving citizens safe... from terrorism... but also shares historical data regarding terrorist strikes... before 9/11. Did you know that Ellis Island... then known as "Black Tom Island"... had served as a storage yard for munitions waiting for shipment to Europe... before America was actually a part of World War I? On July 30, 1916 a "terrorist" set off a blast that not only sent shrapnel through the metal skin of the Statue of Liberty... and blew holes in buildings... but killed a ten-year-old boy in his crib in New Jersey. People were shook awake as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland. Many other pre-9/11 terrorist attacks including the assassination of Jewish Defense League leader Rabbi Meir Kahane... and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing... are covered... as the author "reverse-engineers" the current high state of terrorist alert... we now find ourselves living in.

Since 9/11 the NYPD has completely reconfigured its job descriptions... along with its intelligence and security boundaries. The two main characters in this reincarnation are Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly... and former CIA head of United States operations... and now NYPD Intelligence Chief David Cohen. Ray and David believe that New York's role in the arena of world terror... is not unlike throwing a stone into a placid lake... you know there will be outward ripples. Terrorist activity in New York... affects the world...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A globalist stooge trying to sell us the war on ...
A globalist stooge trying to sell us the war on terror. And of course, his heroes are the establishment installed insiders, who so bravely pedal the party line. Read more
Published 7 months ago by alvin kathka
1.0 out of 5 stars So poorly written, it is painful.
Granted, the topic is very challenging, so I could tolerate the "one concept per chapter" structure. (The cop. The city. Etc. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mark Twain
2.0 out of 5 stars TV, It Is Not!!!
This book proves that police work, good police work, is not like televison.

In the TV series "Kojack," our bald headed hero would have captured every terrorist in New... Read more
Published on May 19, 2010 by Big D
4.0 out of 5 stars Local law enforcement's role in counterterrorism
Author Christopher Dickey examines the unique role that local law enforcement plays in securing the homeland from terrorism threats. Read more
Published on April 23, 2010 by Mitch Wander
2.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster
Aside from the blatant Anti-Bush-bias held by the author, I expected more substance on the NYPD CTD. Read more
Published on February 8, 2010 by Edzo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Anti-Terrorist Force in the USA is the NYPD
This is a wonderful read... a fascinating analysis of the NYPD's astounding effort to apply real intelligence to the threat of terrorism. Read more
Published on January 13, 2010 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars How good policing can beat terrorism
You'll gain a whole new perspective on the job they do. The book reveals how defeating terrorism has little to do with the so-called "Global War on Terror" and almost everything to... Read more
Published on July 24, 2009 by coach
4.0 out of 5 stars Ask's and answers the tough questions about policing in the age of...
I enjoyed reading this book and I have to commend Christopher Dickey for writing a well-rounded and thorough examination of what it is like to have to secure the biggest terror... Read more
Published on May 12, 2009 by R. C Sheehy
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking Globally, Policing Locally
"Securing The City" describes, with journalistic immediacy, how the NYPD's Counterterrorism Division is organized and operates to keep the city safe after 9/11. Read more
Published on May 5, 2009 by Michael Gunther
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
So bias it is hard to read. The NYPD and those members interviewed for the book can do no wrong and where there appears to be a problem the author moves swiftly along. Read more
Published on April 26, 2009 by Pigstick
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More About the Author

What ties all of Christopher Dickey's books together?

His most recent work of non-fiction is "Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South," which Pulitzer prize-winning historian James M. McPherson describes as "an engrossing account of diplomatic derring-do," and Kirkus, in a starred review, calls "a great book." Its publication date is July 21, 2015.

Chris's earlier books include "Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force--The NYPD," which was chosen by The New York Times Book Review as one of the notable books of 2009 and had a full page devoted to it in The Economist. His novel "The Sleeper" was acclaimed by the Times as "a first-rate thriller." His "Summer of Deliverance," another "notable book of the year" for the Times, was described beautifully by Elizabeth Hardwick as "a heartbreaking, eloquent memoir by the son of the heartbreaking, eloquent poet, James Dickey."

"Innocent Blood," Chris's first novel, predicted in 1997 the waves of terror that would come at the United States, and got inside the heads of those who would bring them. "Expats," is a book of essays about traveling among the people of the Middle East--particularly the displaced and misplaced Westerners who lived there in times of war. And Chris's first book, "With The Contras," in 1986, was not only an up-close account of combat in Nicaragua but a first-hand history of Central America at a time of ferocious revolutions and repression.

So, you'll say that what's common about Chris's books is combat, spookery, terror and emotional trauma. And that's partly true. But there is also another deeply felt theme: that of family as the ultimate source of human drama and also the social force that far too often is misunderstood, or ignored, in our efforts to grasp what's going on in the world around us. For more on this theme see pages 228-229 in the paperback edition of "Summer of Deliverance" or Location 3949 on the Kindle edition.

Chris's career as an editor, reporter and foreign correspondent spans more than 40 years. He is currently the Paris-based Foreign Editor for The Daily Beast. Previously he was the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Editor for Newsweek Magazine, and before that he worked for The Washington Post as Cairo Bureau Chief and Central America Bureau Chief. Chris's columns about counter-terrorism, espionage and the Middle East appear regularly now on, where they reach some 20 million readers a month. For links to recent columns and articles, visit "The Shadowland Journal" at

What else does Chris do? Apart from spending as much time with his grandchildren as possible, Chris is a passionate amateur photographer. As he moves through the streets of Paris, New York and other cities around the world, he constantly takes pictures to amuse himself. His Instagram and Twitter handles are the same: @csdickey.

Over the years, Chris has written for Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Wired, Rolling Stone, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic, among other publications. He is a frequent commentator on the BBC World Service, BBC television, CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio and France24 as well as other television and radio networks.

Among his many honors are a doctorate from Hamilton College and journalism awards from the Overseas Press Club, the Inter-American Press Association and Georgetown University. Chris is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he was formerly an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow, and the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris. He is on the board of the Overseas Press Club of America.


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