Customer Reviews


35 Reviews
5 star:
 (17)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (8)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unvarnished Accout
I fancy myself of connoisseur of espionage books, and I've read them all going back 30 years. "The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror" stands out as one of the great ones. This is for a couple of reasons. First, most books in this genre simply bash the CIA and offer no solutions. This doesn't do that. It's a pro-CIA book, but it doesn't shy away...
Published on April 9, 2010 by Ondine

versus
11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of those 3 letter agencies
As John Kiriakou recalls his time in the agency, he does seem to engage in some proud `chest pounding' of his job and his worth and the dangers he went through. He proudly points out that even though he had never fired a weapon he winds up at the top of his marksmanship classes. Most who work with these 3 letter agencies, not just the CIA have this pride in themselves and...
Published on April 9, 2010 by wogan


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unvarnished Accout, April 9, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
I fancy myself of connoisseur of espionage books, and I've read them all going back 30 years. "The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror" stands out as one of the great ones. This is for a couple of reasons. First, most books in this genre simply bash the CIA and offer no solutions. This doesn't do that. It's a pro-CIA book, but it doesn't shy away from the fact that the organization has some serious problems and it offers solutions. Second, it gives an unvarnished account of one operations officer's struggles as he balances his work and family lives. It's not easy, and the reader gets a true understanding of what a CIA officer goes through.

Substantively, the book is full of newsworthy revelations. First, it tells the complete story of the Abu Zubaydah takedown, a story that's never been told before. Second, it gives unprecedented background on the invasion of Iraq, the CIA's role in that invasion, and the fact that the decision to invade was made a full year before the first bomb fell. Finally, there is an explosive chapter that details a raid on the Taliban Embassy in Peshawar, Pakistan, where documents were found that showed a link between that embassy and telephone numbers across the United States. There were 168 calls from the Embassy to these numbers in the weeks before the September 11 attacks; they ended September 10 and started again on September 16. But the FBI never traced the numbers and the documents were simply put into storage. Chilling.

In the end, the author tells a compelling story, both personal and professional. I highly recommend this book for anybody interested in intelligence or thinking of a job in the intelligence community.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You say Spy, we say Intelligence Officer, September 26, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
I have just finished John Kiriakou's Reluctant Spy book. Having had the pleasure of working and sharing some down time with John, the best part of reading the book was the sense that John was right there talking to me. A regular guy, sharing openly, with humility and honesty, about life, self-reflection, this world we live in, and difficulty to know what is best for liberty and mankind. For those who would like to just grab a beer with a guy from the CIA and just casually chat a bit --not a scotch with an old Cold War crusty CoS or martini with 007--- , here is your chance to open a page of history and receive some personal perspective from someone who did it. Beer optional.

Having read some of the book reviews prior, I was taken-aback by some who really do not know this world of John's from the indside and can throw around words like "hack" or "hero wanna-be" in their book opinions. I question whether they know the difference between Spy and Intelligence Officer. It's one thing if you just didn't like the book, writing style, or expected Rogue Warrior to let loose. Most working in the CIA that I know or have known actually are more like John than that of those looking to impress with regales of door breeches, flashbangs, and double-taps. Despite the fact that those like John can indeed do this too. Both Operations and Intel directorates are a thinking man's (and woman's) place. A place where one's personal opinion and perspective has less place than understanding an adversary as the adversary would think by keeping an open mind. John depicts this open mindedness and flexibility vividly in the book unlike other books that I have read on similar topics where decisions are a matter of being black or white.

For those wishing to catch a glimps of the inside and of doing the job, the picture John paints shows the coveted trait of the true Renaissance Man in action. Those who are successful in this business can discuss politics, religion, science, and humanities when the situation calls, and one who is not afraid to crash a political event to rub elbows with Washington's fixtures, have a free drink, and grab a few jumbo shrimp as they pass by. Such individuals can talk to the target, the target's spouse, the waiter, the coat check, the washroom attendant, and valet with great ease and have it all seem perfectly benign. I thought this was also a great add to show the personal diversity aspect so potential applicants to the CIA (as well as enthusiasts) can recognize the need to embrace one's family side, the part about personal relationships, how many are driven by interests and patriotism derived from immigrant families so thankful for the opportunities of America that it passes down generations, but yet there is a competitive success side that creates adversarial relationships within the Agency as well--just like any other place of work that may cause one to just walk away when they can no longer mitigate the office much less a hostile battlespace. This all fits together in the book to show how the regular guy mowing the lawn next door who is the area youth sports coach could indeed be a CIA hero in the war on terror who struggled with what is right or wrong--or simply in the best interest of CIA, USA, and greater humanity, as opposed to what we view of a hot-rod driving, sunglasses and trenchcoat wearing false depiction of movies.

This, to me, is an authentic piece of work that the IC can be proud of and that readers should be honored that John vulnerably shared continuing a passion for public service and democratic debate, more often than not risking personal expense over any gain. I appreicate it's honesty, humility, and true heroism in the true context of the real role that we rarely see.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read about a true "citizen spy", April 9, 2010
By 
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
I purchased this book with some skepticism, wondering if it would be a novel about a larger-than-life James Bond character. Indeed, it is not. The Reluctant Spy is a page-turner and the author comes across as just a normal guy who sacrificed everything for his country. The book also features unique insights into the closed bureaucracy of the intelligence community. I highly recommend this book. You'll learn something and come to appreciate how many "normal" Americans have their lives on the line for our country.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Kiriakou Shares His Passion Without Reluctance, April 27, 2010
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
This is definitely a book I will be talking about for quite some time. THE RELUCTANT SPY tells not only a man's journey of over a dozen years in the CIA, but the effects such a choice had on his overall life.

The book does discuss the overall war on terror, but it also shows that such a war is not just fought in one location. In many ways we are at war in this country by the decisions we make, what we put first in our lives and the consequences such decisions evokes. John made a choice to put his work ahead of almost everything---even at times his family. Such a decision didn't come without cost, but at the end of the day, I don't think he would have changed anything.

Many people will focus on the issue of enhanced interrogations in the book, but that is only a small part of the bigger picture that we are given by the author. Our lives changed after September 11,2001--- for the good and the bad. Decisions were made by people who were entrusted by us to lead, and I think that one of the big lessons I took away from the book was it's hard to second-guess the motives of those we have given such a charge. John didn't agree with everything that was done, but he knew where his loyalty was. It was more than just a job. It was an opportunity to make a difference.

I had the privilege of interviewing the author, and one thing that struck me was that he loved what he did. He loved being in a position to help regardless of what it might cost him. He loved his job. We should all be so fortunate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revealing look at CIA operations in Mideast, March 3, 2013
By 
Michael Ryan (Denver, Colorado) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
What happened to John Kiriakou after a self-sacrificing noble career serving the United States Government should be appalling
to anyone living in our so-called free and democratic country. Kiriakou's autobiographical account of his recruitment to the CIA, then high-powered secretive training, then field deployment, makes for riveting, page-turning reading. My jaw really dropped when I read when the CIA knew of the plan to invade Iraq and the political mechanism fomenting that major military conflict, based on shaky and negated intelligence. It was also less than reassuring to read about how a highly trained and educated
government employee struggled to function effectively within a cumbersome, departmentalized, and over-grown chain of command. Perhaps the most disconcerting of all was Kiriakou's account of how he was prosecuted after leaving his government
job because of the power plays inherent in attempting to challenge personality conflicts between the managerial level of our intelligence establishment and their operatives. That he never received his fair day in federal court, as promised in our country's
Constitution, should appall anyone. Supposedly, according to Reluctant Spy, federal judges can make-up the law on an Ad Hoc
basis if government secrets need to be kept out of open court. Kiriakou reports on his sometimes exhilarating, sometimes
frustrating and downright scary career serving his country in the shadows. If the potential reader has enjoyed recent Hollywood
releases such as Zero Dark Thirty or Argo then I think the less fictionalized portrait of how an intellligence field operative works,
as reported in Reluctant Spy, should be a gratifying read. Kiriakou can't reveal everything in his account, but you learn enough
without naming specific names, to get the drift of how CIA intervention and intelligence gathering works. Kiriakou didn't tell
everything, and undoubtedly the prepublication underwent the standard government censorship review, but he apparently told
enough in the book that it sits in Federal prison at the present time as the result of naming too many names and telling too much.
You will have to determine whether or not the details were a risk to our national security. This reviewer thinks not.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative Read, November 21, 2011
By 
Helper (Knoxville, TN) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
If you're interested in what it can be like to be in the 'agency' then I would recommend this book. It also points out the highs and lows of this type of lifestyle while telling an interesting story of the authors life. It gets a little preachy at the end, the author had a bad boss and clearly wants to take it out on her, but that can happen anywhere.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Iside View of the War on Terror, and its Price, June 6, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
I would strongly recommend "The Reluctant Spy" to anyone who is concerned about how the U.S. Government is meeting the dangers and challenges posed by al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and about the tensions between anti-terrorist tactics and civil liberties. It is not necessary to agree with John Kiriakou to benefit from his book. (I am probably his political opposite.) His book is historically valuable for his first-hand account of the capture of Abu Zubaydah, the fight against the Greek terrorist organization 17 November, and the planning stages of the war in Iraq. Beyond that, it is a revelation of the operations of the CIA as seen and experienced from the inside, and particularly of the toll a career in the agency takes on the personal lives of its officers. I have no doubt that the conflict Kiriakou describes between his ideals and the situations he was put in is representative of the personal conflicts faced by many within the intelligence community. This is such a satisfactory book in so many ways that I have actually purchased extra copies of it to give as presents to friends and relatives who are interested in intelligence issues.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great look at a side of life we don't see..., March 16, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
Reading a book like this tells a story that us "normal" people don't get to hear about too often. All the focus on this book has been about waterboarding and such, but it really is about life in the CIA and putting one's focus and energy on serving your country and saving lives. Mr. Kiriakou has seen a storm of publicity around his public discussions of what is or is not torture, but the fact remains is that he put his own life on the line for the sake of all of us, as do so many others in our military and agencies such as the CIA. This book gives a personal perspective into what it is like for those who seek to serve others.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fairly accurate account here, May 26, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
I would say that John Kiriakou provides the reader with an essentially accurate account of his life working for the CIA. In the process, he comes across as hard working, conscientious, and quite honest(including the incident in Greece where he "lost it" with this provocative baker and the account of his troubled first marriage).

It's unfortunate that he couldn't provide some more classified information(which at times he alludes to) if that in fact would shed more light on things the public would benefit in knowing. Of course, he's not in a position to compromise certain ongoing operations so you have to credit him for honoring that aspect of it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNFETTERED ACCESS, June 1, 2010
This review is from: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (Hardcover)
I was drawn into each chapter. The author shared his personal life, crammed into 17 chapters. He offered personal insight into the agency and gave the department a personality.
I awaited the book release since Mr. Kiriakou's ABC interviews in 2008. The material exceeded my expectations, as I had expected a book merely on spying. Each page revealed the author's most interpersonal thoughts and emotions. At times I felt my pulse increasing as though I was there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror
The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror by John Kiriakou (Hardcover - March 16, 2010)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.