New York Times Bestseller
“Cool and authoritative…The book’s understated pleasures come from reading a pro writing about a pro.
Mr. Bird has a dry style; watching him compose a book is like watching a robin build a nest. Twig is entwined with twig until a sturdy edifice is constructed. No flourishes are required …. Mr. Bird’s style is ideal for his subject.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Full of great morsels and details
… Bird has found in Ames a wonderful new subject…. The Good Spy
succeeds on the basis of Bird’s considerable research skills, his interviews with intelligence officials, his access to Ames’s letters home and, above all, his ability to spot and put together an engrossing biography.
“Bird captures the acrid taste of regional politics and offers a perceptive portrayal of the internal workings and interplay of personalities within the CIA at the time…An enthralling read.”
“[Bird] spent years researching this terrific biography of one of America’s most important covert operatives. It was worth every minute
.” –Seattle Times
This absorbing book suggests that even the best of intentions, and the best of spies, aren’t enough to bridge the chasms in the Middle East.”—Los Angeles Times
“In his riveting, illuminating
account of Ames' life and ultimate death in the 1983 embassy bombing in Beirut, Bird pulls back the thick black curtain on the world of clandestine intelligence affairs
— a world that turns out to be more blazer-and-pen than cloak-and-dagger, though no less engrossing
— to tell the story of one individual's good work in a not-so-good system. A
“One of the best nonfiction books ever written about the West’s involvement in the Arab world.”—The SpectatorOne of 2014's best books so far.
“A lucid, thorough, fascinating biography.”–TIME.com
“More exciting than le Carré’s George Smiley or Fleming’s James Bond, Bird recreates the life of CIA superspy Robert Ames… Bird’s meticulous account of Ames’s career amid an ongoing Mideast climate of caution and suspicion is one of the best books on the American intelligence community.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“A moving biography within a balanced presentation of the complex diplomacy over the Palestinian quest for statehood and Israeli need for security.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)
“A poignant tribute to a CIA Middle East operative who helped get the Palestinians and Israelis to talk to each other—and died for it.”
“Kai Bird has produced a compelling and complex narrative that must be read on many levels—including as a detailed account of the immense influence that a truly good man can have on an agency as cynical as the CIA, and as a reminder of a myriad of losses. Robert Ames did not live long enough to get what he most desperately wanted—a real peace in the Middle East. And America's intelligence agencies no longer seem as welcoming to agents with the wisdom, vision and integrity that Ames exemplified.”—Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Price of Power, The Dark Side of Camelot, and Chain of Command
“Kai Bird has delivered two miracles—the best day-by-day account of a secret intelligence career in the CIA, and the best book about the murderous intelligence war between Israel and her enemies with America smack in the middle.
For years Robert Ames—The Good Spy—tried to nudge both sides toward peace until he picked the wrong day to visit the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and was killed by a car bomb. Bird has written a powerful and revealing story that leaves the reader with a troubling question—how did America get trapped in this war it can do nothing to end?”
—Thomas Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Intelligence Wars
and The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA “The Good Spy gives us the CIA up close and personal—the intricate dance of recruiting ‘assets,’ the bureaucratic maneuverings, the family compromises.
But because Ames was a Mideast specialist his biography also becomes a knowing history of that region's political failures and relentless descent into violence. Well reported, even-handed, compelling reading -- one of the best books ever written about the CIA.”
—Joseph Kanon, New York Times bestselling author of Los Alamos
and The Good German"Beautifully written and researched, The Good Spy is the best book I've ever read on espionage
. It perfectly captures the CIA at its best. What's more, it's a book you can't put down, right to its tragic end.
I need to add this: while Bob Ames's career and mine crossed paths over the years, it's Kai Bird who has finally put the story together for me. Reading this, I wondered at times if Kai somehow pulled off a black bag operation to get into the Agency archives."
—Robert Baer, former CIA operative and New York Times
bestselling author of See No Evil “Kai Bird has unearthed an astonishing amount of detail about Robert Ames, the CIA, and U.S. spy operations in the Middle East.
His book could not be more timely in showing us the perils and advantages of clandestine actions in the name of national security. The Good Spy gives new meaning to the adage that truth can be stranger than fiction.”
—Robert Dallek, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963
"If John le Carré were a nonfiction specialist, he surely would feel the lure of writing the story that is at the heart of The Good Spy
. Kai Bird works the seam between history and espionage. He has produced an arresting book—one that is knowing, and masterful in its rendition of a time when the United States cast a huge shadow across the Arab world.
Robert Ames, the spy in Kai Bird's title, is a figure of unusual poignancy because his guile and innocence run side by side.”
—Fouad Ajami, Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of The Syrian Rebellion