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At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 30, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 30, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Former CIA director Tenet leaves the main vocal duties for this audio in the capable hands of Conger (who also recently narrated The Reagan Diaries). Yet in reading both the brief introduction and lengthy-but highly compelling-afterword, Tenet demonstrates a command of the spoken word that makes one wonder why he did not handle his own narration. However, the two men project a compatible style and tone, conveying deeply personal emotion within the boundaries of professionalism and decorum. Tenet does not shy away from acknowledging his own responsibility in controversies involving terrorism and the Iraq War, but he also takes several key political leaders to task for scapegoating the intelligence community in the wake of unpopular policy. The musical interludes at the start and end of each CD serve to maintain the cloak and dagger ambience. Those who prefer to skim the surface of news events may find the length taxing, but listeners ready to move beyond the headlines and into a wider world of nuanced complexity will be more than satisfied.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Tenet, former director of the CIA, has finally delivered his long-anticipated book. It was supposed to provide background and insight into the events of September 11 as well as the lead-up (and fall down) of the Iraq War. But most readers will find that Tenet's hodgepodge of facts tangled with homey anecdotes, excuses, and mea culpas will leave them as confused as ever. Alternately presenting himself as the folksy Greek American kid from Queens and the high-charging power broker, Tenet is proud of the many things the CIA did right under his charge, such as disrupting terrorist attacks leading up to 9/11 (while, of course, missing the big one), and he writes feverishly about successes in Afghanistan and elsewhere during the trying months afterward. The book is at its best painting just how dangerous, confusing, and exhausting those days were. Then comes the distraction from terrorism that was Iraq, and according to Tenet, common purpose disappeared in Washington, and interagency warfare reigned. Cheney comes out looking bad, and Rice worse, but much of the blame for the ill-preparedness goes to the slightly lower-level neocons: Wolfowitz, Libby, et al. As for the president, Tenet likes him––a lot. But in a telling few pages, Bush keeps trying to get neocon favorite Ahmed Chalabi off the payroll, and no one pays a bit of attention to him. Turning these pages is like walking through mirrors. Cooper, Ilene
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 30, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0061147788
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,087,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like I imagine so many thousands of others, I spent the last month counting down the days till the release of this book, contenting myself alongside everyone else with the tidbits revealed in the media. Ultimately, like some sort of hard-core Harry Potter fan, I used a connection at a local bookstore to get a copy at five AM, and spent this morning reading five-hundred of the most disturbing pages of revelations I've seen since the publication of Bob Woodward's State of Denial last year.

Anyone who claims this book is former CIA director George Tenet's self-exonerating backlash against his former agency or his one-time boss, President George W. Bush, has not yet read At the Center of the Storm, and is in for a surprise. If no other part of this book is read, I'd urge anyone to turn to the chapter entitled "They Want To Change The World" and then defy anyone to walk away without feeling slightly less secure. Yes, Tenet does give his side of the story for his now-infamous "slam dunk" remark, and has select critical words for the current administration, particularly Secretary of State Rice, and Vice President Cheney, but instead of using this work as a vituperous denunciation of Washington insiders, he makes what I found to be a responsible criticism of exactly what was mishandled in the time between September 11, 2001, and the period that followed the end of the (first stage of the) Iraq War, and what has come to be termed the occupation of that country.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very good book. There are some extremely important nuggets in here that essentially put the final nail in Dick Cheney's coffin while certifying the importance of holding Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Cambone accountable for their high crimes and misdemeanors. Condi Rice continues to be depicted, in this book and others, as a zero in the sense of having been ignored, sidelined, or run over by Dick Cheney and his minions.

The book loses one star for a lack of prior context. George Tenet was Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for many years, and then Intelligence Director for Bill Clinton. He avoids any mention of his long-standing role in helping dismantle the very IC he ended up leading, and he is terribly deceptive when he says he asked for more funding for anti-terrorism, but fails to mention his inability to redirect funds within the $35-40 billon he had at the time. Today the IC has $60-70B and we are no safer--these clowns cannot even put together a consolidated accurate terrorist watchlist five years after 9/11.

The bottom line on the author is that he is a big-hearted staffer, not a leader and not a strategic thinker. He was a place-holder in a job that two presidents saw fit to relegate to losers--a mouse, a pit-bull, and a turtle.

He takes credit for months of redesign dialog but fails to point out that there was no substantive contact with iconoclasts, published author-practitioners. I am especially angry that he placed Buzzy Krongard in as Executive Director. In my view, Krongard was there to look out for Wall Street interests and ensure Brown and Root did not get caught smuggling drugs into the USA through New Orleans and heavy equipment being returned to the USA "for repairs.
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Format: Hardcover
Having spent the last 2 ½ days reading this book, I have a completely different prospective on the war on terror, on how the CIA functions (and sometimes doesn't) and how the Bush Administration views 9/11. The book is fascinating, goes into much more depth than expected and isn't the "blame game" book that people are being lead to believe.

To be sure, this is not any easy book to read. It is certainly long, and at times tedious, but that is the nature of this type of book. The names of the al-Qa'dia (as spelled in the book) members alone are enough to twist the brain, however those names are important to understand how the organization moved people through and around the world.

Two chapters that were fascinating to me were "They Want to Change History" and "Casus Belli". They contained information that changed, in some ways, how I perceive just what has happened, and how what happened did happen. I won't reveal more, as I think it is important for people to read the actual book.

Unlike so many people that are condemning the book before reading it, I found it to be as well balanced as any autobiography is. Mr. Tenet spreads blame to himself, as well as to a number of other people for failures that occurred. And it is important to realize that, while he made mistakes, others made larger and more costly mistakes, including Saddam himself.

This book has good information that will be helpful to the historians that will eventually write the entire story of this administration and the history of the world after 9/11. I realize this review won't change the minds of most people, but to condemn the book without reading it would be a shame.
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