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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.”
“Johnson’s engrossing memoir, through the layers of subterfuge, uncovers many basic truths of familial conflict.”
- Publishers Weekly
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sometimes especially for future generations in those with a TRADITION to uphold. Wise, strong, sweet and sad. A jewel from this universe.
BRAVO! The voice at each age of this memoir shines with truth.
For me, in this moving primary source reportage from Iraq and Afghanistan II, there is an unspoken request for the truth to be fully told by those who engineered what we did there, so injustice may be replaced by justice, even if long in coming.
NEWSWEEK continues its long tradition of excellence in its support for fine global writers. Bravo also to them.
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.