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The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA Hardcover – May 20, 2013
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When Johnson was a teenager living in suburban Detroit after years of living in exotic places around the world, his father revealed the secret that had guided their lives: he was a CIA agent. That revelation gave Johnson license to deceive and cover up as well, joining his father in a double life. Feelings of fear and isolation never left him, even later as he pursued a career as a journalist. As a foreign correspondent, he found astounding parallels between his father’s work and his own, including source development and the sometimes clandestine nature of the work. Johnson traces his life as son and journalist from the U.S. to Mexico to the Middle East and Europe, tracking secrets and wondering about the morality and authenticity of his and his father’s lives together and apart. He ponders the impact of secretiveness on his father’s marriages and on his own failed relationships. An enthralling look at a complicated father-son relationship and a painful investigation of the messiness of truth in journalism, intelligence ops, and life. --Vanessa Bush
“A beautifully written memoir, and a cautionary tale about double lives. . . . I couldn’t put this book down.” (Robert Baer, former CIA case officer and author of See No Evil)
“Scott Johnson has written a fine book of unusual honesty; he grapples with the nature of his beloved father’s secret life and the profound consequences it has had in his own. This is an extraordinary story, astonishingly well-told.” (Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara)
“A mesmerizing book . . . beautifully written, deeply moving, and compulsively readable.” (David Finkel, author of The Good Soldiers)
“Brave and memorable . . . a rare glimpse into the private life of a spy that digs into the love, lies, and ambiguities between father and son.” (Megan Stack, author of Every Man in This Village Is a Liar)
“An aching, lyrical father-son story of the spy world that is dark and intriguing.” (Evan Thomas, author of The War Lover)
“This stunning memoir could be ripped from the pages of a John le Carré novel. . . . A fascinating and important book by one of the great American foreign correspondents of his generation.” (Michael Hastings, author of The Operators)
“[A] searingly honest memoir… [Johnson] deftly explores the eerie parallels between these professional worlds: the CIA case officer who labors to recruit sources to provide secret information to assist the United States in its pursuit of foreign policy objectives worldwide, and the journalist who also recruits inside sources, but ones who will speak for publication.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Evokes John le Carré’s dark autobiographical thriller The Perfect Spy.” (Washington Post)
“An enthralling look at a complicated father-son relationship and a painful investigation of the messiness of truth in journalism, intelligence ops, and life.” (Booklist)
“Johnson’s engrossing memoir, through the layers of subterfuge, uncovers many basic truths of familial conflict.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Gripping, emotional depictions of the conflicts that rage in the interior and exterior worlds of a spy―and of a journalist.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Though there’s plenty of covert action and espionage in this fabulous book, the real heft of it is in Johnson’s moving account of his relationship with his father and how the secrets of the CIA affected that relationship.” (School Library Journal)
“With rare emotional subtlety, and in finely etched prose worthy of Evelyn Waugh or Graham Greene, [Johnson] captures the perspectives of people on various sides of [a] bloody equation.” (Emma Garman - The Daily Beast)
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Top Customer Reviews
The author doesn't tell you who the "bad guy" or "good guy" is, but rather tells the story of his life through his eyes and lets you draw your own conclusions.
As an expat with two sons myself, I especially appreciated his descriptions of what it was like to live in these foreign lands as a child. It is interesting to read what he remembered or thought of as important during those times. I can personally use these insights to understand what my children are going through.
Great qoutes were found throughout: "I loved it that a place you called home could also be incomprehensible."
If you saw "CIA" and bought this book looking for an action packed memoir, you will be sorely disappointed.
I recommend this book for anyone who appreciates a good story.
*This book was well formatted on my Gen4 Kindle with properly linked chapters and table of contents*
It's not all bad, though, hence the 3 stars. There are some interesting insights in how the business of espionage really works and how one gets started in the business. And the exotic international locations are fascinating.