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The Director: A Novel Hardcover – June 2, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 427 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Ignatius is now far better known for his novels (including Bloodmoney, 2011) than for his decades of insightful commentary on foreign affairs and the CIA. But his reporting and commentary, as well as his contacts at Foggy Bottom and Langley, always inform his fiction. This time his subject is the CIA and evidence that Agency computers have been hacked. It falls to a CIA director only a week into his tenure to deal with the crisis. Graham Weber has been hired to shake up an institution that has become sclerotic and is still reeling from WikiLeaks and Snowden’s revelations. To confront both crises, Weber turns to the Agency’s top computer savant, who is a former world-class hacker, while he confronts the myriad intrigues and intransigences inside the CIA and the vast national intelligence network. Ignatius is on new ground here. The hacker culture and ethos is an insular world, but he does a fine job in portraying it through the rollicking sketch of Def Con, the annual hacker convention that is a prime intel recruitment site. He’s similarly successful with Morris, the CIA computer savant: Morris is überbrilliant, a bit kinky, and spectacularly devious. Ignatius even effectively outlines a plausible hack that rocks the entire world economy. He’s given readers another compelling and enlightening look at what might happen next month. Must-read twenty-first-century espionage fiction. --Thomas Gaughan

Review

An entertaining, high-tech ride, full of theme park pyrotechnics and more substantial pleasures. As in his previous thrillers, Mr. Ignatius…injects the plot with his wide-ranging knowledge of history, geopolitics and national security issues, while giving the reader an intimate sense of the tradecraft employed by his characters. (Michiko Kakutani - The New York Times)

Another brilliant thriller from the Dean of International Intrigue. Deception, deceit, and dishonor―The Director doesn't let up and absolutely doesn't disappoint! I loved this book! (Brad Thor, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Hidden Order)

The best part of The Director is watching Ignatius grab the history of American intelligence and use it to divine our technological future. Here's your chance to see inside the CIA. Sculpted with an insider's eye, The Director shows you real people, real espionage, and the real threats to our national security. (Brad Meltzer, best-selling author of The Fifth Assassin)

[A] frighteningly convincing spy thriller. (Publishers Weekly, Starred review)

As a writer, Ignatius doesn’t know how to tell a bad story. His unparalleled understanding of the intelligence world propels his work so far above others who dabble in the field that there''s little comparison. (Kirkus Reviews)

Ignatius has given readers another compelling and enlightening look at what might happen next month. Must-read twenty-first-century espionage fiction. (Booklist, Starred Review)

I’m not rolling a log or exaggerating when I call this the best spy novel I’ve read since John le Carré’s Smily’s People way back in 1979… I now intend to read everything that Ignatius has ever written. (Philip Kerr - Washington Post)

A lively read. (Foreign Policy Magazine)

David Ignatius’s novels have always been a clef in the best sense: closely connected to, and very revealing and insightful about, the trends and tensions in the news… [A] page-turning read. (James Fallows - The Atlantic)

Ignatius uses all his Washington insider experience to give his story its sharp authenticity. (Daily Mail (UK))

If you think cybercrime and potential worldwide banking meltdown is a fiction, read this sensational thriller and reconsider any investing strategy you might have. (Bob Woodward - Politico)

One of his best… Ignatius has a gift for portraying the soldiers of the CIA bureaucracy in all their ambition, heroism and pettiness, and what he suggests about the nation’s cybersecurity will keep you up at night. (Mary Ann Gwinn - Seattle Times)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393078140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393078145
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (427 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Travis on May 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kudos to Ignatius for keeping up with the times. Those who gave a poor review may have been expecting an old-school spy thriller and they are correct, this is not one of those. But it a respectable piece of work that is a sign of the times and recommended to anyone who can comprehend the severity and complexity of the technical world. Personally, I couldn't put it down and had no desire whatsoever to put it down halfway through. Nor was I reading out of obligation of getting a free copy--paid for with pre-order and worth every penny. Thanks tut o Amazon for early delivery!
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Format: Kindle Edition
The author comes out with one of the best conspiracy novels published in a long time. His portraits of the characters are superb, and the best and the worst are very well delineated. Graham Weber, a former private business manager is appointed Director of the CIA with the mission of turning it around and making it more efficient. One week after he takes over the agency a young man walks into the American consulate in Hamburg and announces that the CIA has been hacked and hands a list of the agents found to be forwarded to Weber. Weber decides to give the problem to the director of the Internet Operations Center, James Morris, who is the acknowledged Geek of the agency. Morris turns on a hunt like no other before this and we are introduced to the Hacker world of Europe and the U.S.
The plot goes back and forth between deals and double deals and nothing is as it seems. Ignatius introduces us to the British background to the formation of the CIA and to the claim that the agency was molded after MI6 after WWII. He indicates in an afterward that this allegation was true with England holding the reins for many years.
Weber learns that he cannot trust anyone in his team, although he begins what might become a love affair with one of his department heads until the point where she seemingly betrays his trust. Ignatius does not glorify any one character but paints them as they would probably be if faced with these same problems in real life.
A must read book, and one that might be easily finished in one night once the reader gets into it.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the insights into some of the hacker world activities and methods and it's growing primacy in maintaining reasonable control in nearly all areas of world economies and national security. I did not, however, find any of the characters particularly compelling nor even very interesting. Everyone seemed to have their own worldview and their own personal agendas with the possible exception of the new "Director" who is clearly out of his element in this world and quickly struggling just to survive.

My primary impression was that no one in the higher levels of Intelligence really has much grasp of reality. It's a Wilderness of Mirrors. Perhaps that is true but it does not make for a very good novel as far as I am concerned. Despite all the plot twists and turns, betrayals, new allegiances, etc. the ending reeked of a "deadline finish" to me.....something that had to be wrapped up very quickly no matter how little sense it made just to meet the publisher's deadline. At least it sure left me scratching my head over just exactly who did what and why and how in order for things to suddenly reach such a rapid and illogical conclusion.

As far a recommendation let me put it this way - it's a decent enough story for summertime leisure reading....but there are no strong characters, no compelling or clear plot lines other than a lot of ambiguously global threats and in the end you need not wonder if this is the first of a series for there is nothing and no one in this book that is worth any further exploration.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Probably David ignatius is right, and most spies will operate in cyberspace in the future. While I miss the cloak and dagger suspense of old spy novels, this is an excellent journey into a new world.
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I had a hard time finishing this book. I did not think the characters were likable and were very shallow. Further, the plot was total fancy and unbelievable. I had a hard time giving this book two stars. David Ignatius has written some very good novels, but it seems that he wrote this one quickly without giving it mush thought.
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Unfortunately, an average novel from an excellent journalist. After his interview on NPR, I was looking forward to this book, but the characters seem oddly underwritten and the main character sadly over his head in his role, made all the more obvious by the dialogue. Mr. Ignatius has great knowledge of the world of digital privacy and the hacking industry, but has not been able to meld that with his story. Ok for a summer read though not memerable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For several years Ignatius has been the best author of contemporary espionage novels. This one requires close reading because of the detail involved in a novel involving digital conspiracy and treason, and different levels of national values by the principals. Thus, it may be slower reading than most thriller readers are looking for, but this is a complex novel, with carefully drawn characters, and details that produce a compelling read. This is a brilliant display of the ability of Ignatius to gather a huge amount of digital information, the complexities of national spycraft, a tight photograph of the most important characters and their interplay on an international stage. and pull all the strands together to make this an important novel as well as a fascinating one. After reading this, you will have a rather scary understanding of the politics and activities that drive our FBI, CIA, and national security apparatus. A great read and an important one. Ignatius is a superb writer. story teller, and valuable thinker. Good grief, he is good!
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