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Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force--The NYPD Hardcover – February 3, 2009

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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.


"A fascinating, and frightening, look into the world of antiterrorism. Securing the City kept me riveted." -- Kathy Reichs, author of Devil Bones

"If you're concerned about a terrorist threat to America, you need to read this eye-opening and extraordinary book. Dickey reveals the little-known existence of the New York Police Department's counterterror force, the first line of defense against another 9/11. This book should be read by the FBI, the CIA, and by every cop in America. An essential addition to the literature on global terrorism." -- Nelson DeMille, author of The Gate House

"The United States needs a new counterterrorism strategy -- one that is vigilant, creative, sustainable, and aligned with the country's constitutional values. Securing the City is not only a fascinating inside portrait of the New York Police Department's response to the terror threat after 9/11, it is also an important contribution to public policy. The federal government has much to learn from the leadership culture and street work of the NYPD, as Christopher Dickey's penetrating reporting makes clear." -- Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars and The Bin Ladens

"Dickey offers a rich inside account of the most extensive antiterrorism effort in any American city. A long-time expert on extremism and the Middle East, Dickey offers amazing detail as well as a broad history of the threats to U.S. national security. There are many important lessons to be learned in Securing the City." -- Robin Wright, author of Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East

"Christopher Dickey has written a work of meticulous reporting that reads like a John Le Carré novel, illuminating the shadowy world of terrorists, and that of the New York City cops who hunt them down. A terrifying, and yet reassuring, read." -- Michael Korda, author of Ike and With Wings Like Eagles

"Revealing and nerve-rattling."-- The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416552405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416552406
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Dickey is a renowned war correspondent, historian, and thriller writer, an authority on terrorism, and a memoirist. He is the Paris-based foreign editor of The Daily Beast, and a frequent commentator on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, the BBC and NPR.

Chris's most recent work of non-fiction is "Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South," to be published in July. Pulitzer prize-winning historian James M. McPherson describes it as "an engrossing account of diplomatic derring-do," and Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it, flatly, "a great book."

At a time when Americans are searching for a deeper understanding of their history as it affects today's burning questions of race and politics, "Our Man in Charleston" offers startling insights into the grim narrative of slavery, the matter of states' rights, and the foundations of racism in the United States as viewed by an outsider 160 years ago in the heart of the Southern "slavocracy." A compelling true story, it tells of one young British diplomat's ultimately successful effort to prevent the Crown from supporting the Confederacy. Had British military might backed the secessionists, especially in the early days of the conflict, that would have been checkmate, game over for the Union. But that did not happen, and this meticulously documented narrative, much of it based on "private and confidential" correspondence never before published, shows why.

Glowing editorial notices have come from several authoritative Civil War historians: in addition to McPherson, author of "Battle Cry of Freedom," Amanda Foreman ("A World on Fire"), Harold Holzer ("Lincoln and the Power of the Press") and Howard Jones ("Blue and Grey Diplomacy") have all praised the book. Great modern American writers -- Joan Didion, Pat Conroy and Geraldine Brooks, among them -- have found "Our Man" a compelling narrative. (Didion said, memorably, it is "a perfect book about an imperfect spy.") Well-known ex-CIA operative Robert Baer calls it "the best espionage book I've read."

Chris's earlier works 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 in many of them: 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 and previously was the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Editor for Newsweek Magazine. 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 graduate of the University of Virginia with a master's degree in documentary film making from Boston University. 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on 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 10 people found the following review helpful By MT on 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 By Rick Shaq Goldstein on February 16, 2009
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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