Bob Baer Reviews The Triple Agent
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.
Praise for The Triple Agent
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"Mr. 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 Triple Agent is a page turner....It's a must-read for counterterrorism and spy junkies."
"Warrick is a brilliant reporter and a fine writer.... This is as gripping a true-life spy saga as I've read in years."
—Bob Drogin, LA Times
"A riveting, heart-wrenching tale."
—The Washington Post
"[An] accessible and fast-paced debut....[Warrick] gives this story a cinematic feel with suspensful foreshadowing, rich character development...and a remarkable amount of heart."
"Warrick has pieced together a fast-paced and compelling narrative that reads like a Hollywood screenplay. He 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
"Insightful and riveting.... Mr. Warrick adds a wealth of new detail to a narrative that reads like the best spy fiction."
—The Washington Times
"The Triple Agent is a spy thriller like no other. Never has such a giant intelligence debacle been chronicled this vividly, this intimately. Riveting and harrowing, laden with deception and duplicity, it 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
“The Triple Agent is a superlative piece of reporting and writing. Joby Warrick manages to take the reader inside the CIA, Jordanian intelligence, and al-Qaeda. His intimate portraits of intelligence officers and the terrorists they stalk are 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. The deadly buzz of unmanned drones, the fanatical drive of a suicide bomber, and the desperate hopes of the intelligence agents at outpost Khost are drawn together in a powerful and fast-paced story of our time.”
—David E. Hoffman, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Dead Hand
“The Triple Agent is by turns harrowing and heartbreaking, fascinating and frightening. Joby Warrick takes the reader deep inside the CIA’s biggest disaster since September 11, a monumental blunder that allowed an al-Qaeda mole, carrying a thirty-pound bomb, into the agency’s highly secret, frontline outpost along the Afghan border with Pakistan. The blast left seven agency employees dead and many questions unanswered, questions that Warrick skillfully answers in 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