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The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA Paperback – May 1, 2012
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Robert Baer is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Sleeping with the Devil, about the Saudi royal family and its relationship with the United States; and See No Evil, which recounts Baer's years as a top CIA operative. See No Evil was the basis for the acclaimed film Syriana, which earned George Clooney an Oscar for his portrayal of Baer. Baer writes regularly for Time.com and has contributed to Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East.
I’ve never read a book like this, a detailed and compelling postmortem of an intelligence failure. In a driving narrative Warrick tells the story of how the CIA came to suffer its worst loss ever.
Since Khost I’ve taken more than a passing interest in how precisely the tragedy came about, how more than a dozen CIA operatives let themselves be caught in an ambush like this. Needless to say, my ex-colleagues could talk about nothing else in the months afterwards. But no one could give me the detail that explained it. Warrick’s finally done it, better than any CIA “damage assessment” could ever hope to.
The story of Khost has much wider significance than a tragic event. Warrick paints a picture of a CIA obsessed with technology – drones, iris scans, intercepts. No one at Khost spoke the local language, no one set foot out of base, and the officer in charge had no real field experience. She knew nothing about Afghanistan or Pakistan. Yet she was not only put in charge, she was handed the CIA’s first mole inside al Qaeda - and put in charge of overseeing the assassination of al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al Zawahari.
The Triple Agent is not only the best book out there on the CIA’s hunt for al Qaeda, it’s the best book on post-9/11 CIA, bar none. Read it.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Riveting and harrowing, laden with deception and duplicity, The Triple Agent is a remarkable, behind-the-curtain account of the CIA’s darkest day in Afghanistan.” —Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City
“Absolutely first-rate, breakthrough reporting.” —Bob Woodward, author of Obama’s Wars
“A fast-paced and compelling narrative that reads like a Hollywood screenplay. [Warrick] provides a rare look at the careers and personal lives of CIA officers, including the courageous women who played key roles. . . . Spellbinding.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Warrick has reconstructed, in vivid and telling detail, the sequence of events that led Humam al-Balawi to kill seven CIA operatives in a suicide attack in Afghanistan in December 2009. . . . It is a chilling tale, told with skill and verve.” —The Economist
“The Triple Agent is a superlative piece of reporting and writing. . . . Unforgettable. The Triple Agent is one of the best true-life spy stories I have ever read.” —David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post and author of Bloodmoney
“A startling and memorable account of daring, treachery, and catastrophe in the CIA’s war against al-Qaeda. . . . A powerful and fast-paced story of our time.” —David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Dead Hand
“An extraordinary story of intrigue and betrayal. . . . Warrick shows how the pressure for results led the CIA to take shortcuts when it came to handling an agent who some feared, correctly, was too good to be true.” —Foreign Affairs
“Potent, swift. . . . Warrick is very, very good. He burrows deep inside not only the CIA, which might be expected, but also the Mukhabarat and ISI, Pakistan’s main spy agency.” —The Washington Post
“A fascinating . . . postmortem on the 2009 ambush on the American compound at Knost, Afghanistan. . . . Riveting. . . . Sketches careful, illuminating portraits of those who died.” —The Plain Dealer
“Warrick demonstrates the initiative that has marked his newspaper career. . . . An alarming narrative, especially because of its understated, never-shrill tone.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Riveting. . . . A must-read.” —Associated Press
“Insightful and riveting. . . . Mr. Warrick adds a wealth of new detail to a narrative that reads like the best spy fiction.” —The Washington Times
“[An] accessible and fast-paced debut. . . . [Warrick] gives this story a cinematic feel with suspenseful foreshadowing, rich character development . . . and a remarkable amount of heart.” —Publishers Weekly
“A grim reminder that the U.S. war on terror as it has been conducted is deadly, expensive, and mostly futile.” —Houston Chronicle
“The Triple Agent is by turns harrowing and heartbreaking, fascinating and frightening. . . . . A tale that reads like a thriller and stretches from the dusty back alleys of Waziristan to the plush executive floor at Langley.” —James Bamford, author of the bestselling The Puzzle Palace, Body of Secrets, and The Shadow Factory
“Were Shakespeare alive, he would find ample material for a high tragedy among the players in . . . The Triple Agent. All the ingredients are there, including betrayal, shame, heroism, and more than one person with a recklessly determined hubris worthy of King Lear himself. Yet as those who have operated in the world of human intelligence will viscerally feel, this is not cathartic fiction, but a factual account of a modern day human intelligence operation gone terribly wrong, involving real men and women, with all the failings thereof.” —Foreign Policy
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Top Customer Reviews
So what is the book? It is a careful compilation of the events, actions, decisions and personalities that ultimately culminated in the tragedy at Camp Chapman (Khost). Warrick has built a somewhat breathless, but engaging narrative that describes in some detail how a string of seemingly unrelated events build with inevitability of a Greek Tragedy to a horrendous conclusion. Warrick followed what can be called the Bob Woodward style of reporting. That is he reports what is happening without passing judgment on any of the decisions, personalities or actions involved. Indeed one of the more attractive elements of his narrative is that he treats the late Jennifer Matthews with dignity and respect along with a good deal of sympathy. He does the same with CIA `targeters' like Elizabeth Hanson. He also treats Matthews' murderer Humam al Balawi with equal respect and dignity. This will undoubtedly inflame the legion of real and self-declared counter-terrorism `experts' who plague the Inner Beltway of D.C. as well as the many armchair foes of Islamic extremism. Yet the first step in developing any rational counter terrorist strategy is understanding who terrorists are. Warrick should be commended for his balanced and fair approach to what is still a highly emotional subject.
Although Warrick scrupulously avoids second guessing and judgments of any sort, his account does provide a good deal of evidence that CIA has not dealt with its counter-terrorism mission particularly well.Read more ›
This book is excellent.
I have to presume that Warrick has gotten the main facts of the story correct. He spoke to many unnamed CIA sources, as well as others involved, and much of the story has been out in the open media for some time. He provides some insight into why this disaster happened, particularly the political forces that warped operational decisions, but a nuanced understanding of the CIA's and GID's operation, and al-Qaeda's counter operation, is just not there. That may be due to his sources' aversion to speaking in detail but also probably to the author's limitations, since he exhibits only an outsider's appreciation of the espionage trade.
In the end this account is highly readable but not satisfying. Warrick catches the urgency and passion, but this episode in a continuing war also requires serious study and reflection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book. I could not put it down. This is second book of Joby Warrick that I have read. He is helping me understand the emergence of ISIS.Published 18 hours ago by Amazon Customer
very engrossing and sheds an interesting look at the cia in action. Does not engender confidence in our agents field skills.Published 5 days ago by william a white
A rehash of news stories and brief biographies of the officers involved in the suicide bomber triple agent fiasco. An okay readPublished 10 days ago by K. J. Taylor
The characters are well described and the story is very interesting. Heroes, terrorist's, military technology, human drama. Never a dull or uninteresting page. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Big Joe
In depth coverage. It is demoralizing as a Solider to see the government acting so swiftly to avenge the CIA, but not to avenge Service members. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Albert LaFleur
Interesting story of penetration. Hopefully possible to do the other way round.Published 6 months ago by Abc
I flew through this book in a weekend a great read . I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how our Cia overlooked some troubling thingsPublished 6 months ago by tennisguy