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Showing 1-10 of 209 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 297 reviews
on April 14, 2017
At this moment in time it's good to go back to the early days of the Middle East crisis. It also makes it more complicated when you get to see the so called human side of what makes for a good spy. There is no objective truth. The people who spend their lives wallowing in this dark arena have no perfect handle on any more than slivers of several barely partial truths, and Bird brings them all to life and death. He makes the most of the little we can know. It's a book to read slowly, unlike the novels that cover the same territory. The bottom line is, Trust no one, but hope that good journalism like this can keep our heads slightly above water. This is not a stylish book, but it is really well written and never clunky or hackneyed.
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on April 16, 2017
I definitely enjoyed this book. I found it intriguing. I wish more "secret" info could have been given; I mean at times we know Ames is having meetings and other clandestine operations but few details are given other than the fact the meeting occurred.

Sadly it is affirmed through this book that the media reports what an administration wants the public to know, while in actuality something opposite the report is occurring. In some sense I understand it, but in another sense, you wish we could get truth! Thankfully there are books like the Bible that give us truth.
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on April 13, 2015
This is a well researched book and presents detailed information about an influential and successful modern American spy. This book is not for the casual reader. The cast of characters is many and their movements around the Middle East complicated. Robert Ames, the good spy, died in one of the first major terrorists attacks against the US. I am of the believe that we did not learn enough from this terrible incident as several other attacks occurred prior to the big one on 9-11. Of course, it is extremely difficult to provide 100% security for surprise suicide killers, yet our giant government seemed slow to react or to recognize the capacity for horrific mass murder. One wonders, after these attacks and the intelligence about terrorism, why were American airlines flying around with the doors to the cockpit unlocked in the year 2001 when the airlines Israel had long stopped this practice? While Ames is a skilled CIA agent, he seemed to me to belong more in the Department of State as a diplomat. Again, this book is not for the casual reader but for those who like heavy duty history and are serious about understanding the Middle East.
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on March 2, 2015
The story of Robert Ames life as chronicled in this book left me with some unfortunate conclusions. Firstly, the relationship between Israel and their neighbors and the Arab world as a whole has only become worse. Suicide bombers are not a new phenomenon with the rise of ISIS but have been part of history in the Middle East for some time. Spies on the ground have a better feel for our allies and adversaries than their bosses in Washington who may have objectives that are not based on reality. The bombing of the American embassy in Beirut and the siege of the Libyan embassy have dangerous similarities. They both should have been better fortified and protected. There is a strange naïveté we have about this. Lastly, the U.S. needs more "spies", liaisons or agents on the ground connecting, befriending or trying to understand local politics and their bosses in Washington should not second guess their conclusions or expect them to conform to all the rule books at home when needs on the ground are different.

An eye opening book. It gave me some understanding of the radicalization of the Middle East.
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on February 7, 2015
Not the Ames that betrayed his country. This is an important work in the sense that it brings the importance of human intelligence (humint) into focus, especially in an area where infiltrating groups that are hostile to America is incredibly difficult because they are so often made up of family members and long time friends. Ames was murdered in the suicide bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in April of 1983. The United States and Israel both blame Hezbollah. Hezbollah denies any responsibility while taking credit fro the destruction of the Marine Barracks in Beirut a mere six months later. While researching my master's thesis I found it impossible to prove or disprove and came to the conclusion that it was most likely Syrian backed PFLP (People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine), however that is really nothing more than an educated guess.
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on July 8, 2014
Interesting insight into a CIA officer's life, and especially into behind-the scenes going ons in international relations.usually well written and readable. However, to my mind the author was more than a little smitten and uncritical of the subject, and occasionally his political views distorted the narrative, even if fairly subtle.
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on July 22, 2017
This book is a detailed experience of one of America's great Secret Soldiers and gives a good insite to the man Robert Ames.
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on April 12, 2017
None.
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on December 3, 2015
It is one of the best book I have read regarding the Middle East. What happened during that period is what is still now affecting this region. Great insights and very detailed information about the Middle East and the american policies during that time. One comment in the book if it was at that time taken into consideration, many lives would have been saved.
Looking forward to read more.
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on August 1, 2014
This was clearly a labor of love and is a historical masterpiece of a turbulent time. Despite the fascinating story and the exquisite research this historical non-fiction suffers from an underwhelming monotone. Worth the read but it could have been much much better given the source material at the author's reach.
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