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Company Man should be read at two levels, and is successful at both. First, it's a memoir of the CIA's chief lawyer (General Counsel) and his 30-plus years worth of stories, impressions, and characterizations of people he met (Presidents, Secretaries, CIA Directors and many more). As a lawyer, he was often at the center of CIA's most public successes and failures, and everything in between. Note the emphasis on the word "public." All Agency retirees (and indeed, anyone leaving CIA's employ for any reason) is legally obligated (by contract) to submit any written material to a review board to check for classified material, which is usually not permitted. So this is not a journalistic tell-all. But it provides an accurate, honest, and surprisingly well-written view into the organization from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s. If you're a fan of such memoirs, this is for you.
The second level is as a defense of Rizzo's (and the Agency's as a whole) actions during the "torture controversy." If you believe that the "Extended Interrogation Techniques" as described in the press, and in the book as well, are torture and should never have been countenanced, you will find much to disagree with. If you're on Rizzo's side, that the techniques, while most unsettling and problematic, were not torture and were legal (i.e., approved by the government process that was used by all executive agencies to determine legality), then you'll be cheering him on. Perhaps you're one of the three people in the world who has not judged the actions and events; if so, I believe you'll find a rich cache of information to help you decide.
The narration was flawless, such that I truly believed it was Rizzo talking to me.
John Rizzo falls into the category of an accidental patriot. He was a good man in the right place at the right time who played an important part of quite a few historically important events. Fortunately, he is also an excellent writer who chose to tell us about them.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I wanted to get insight into the way the CIA thinks and operates. I don't believe I got that in this book. I think this is a famous government employee writes a book to get more retirement income book. That's not to say it's devoid of facts or has no interested. Rizzo skims over his time at the CIA briefly before 9/11. He does go into some detail about the torture memos after 9/11. Even there I don't think we get the whole picture. I sense John Rizzo didn't know the all the details or has to hold back some for security reasons. I don't know and can't say. Maybe we have to wait several more decades before true stories really come out.
It's not a hard read and I followed along quite fine, but I don't feel I learned anything.