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The Perfect Kill is not so much a book about assassination's "rules"as it is a book about Lebanon, Baer, and the career of one particular assassin who was active in Lebanon In the 1980s, and for two decades thereafter, until his eventually slaying (presumably by Israeli intelligence) in 2008. That man - Hajj Radwan - was was something like the "White Whale" of Baer's CIA career and post-career. This is quite understandable, as Radwan was not only a prolific political killer, but a "ghost," who for much of his career evaded so much as single photograph. His roles in the 1983 embassy bombing, barracks bombing, and scores of other attacks, are laid bare in this book (to a greater degree than in Baer's previous book), and Baer even draws a line between him and the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Hearing Baer speculate about the cause and effect relationships of seemingly disparate events is truly fascinating stuff. He is a brilliant spook and this is his beat.
I've been admirer of Bob Baer's since reading his first book in 2002, "See No Evil," a memoir organized around his experience as a CIA officer in Lebanon in the 1980s. One of the highlights of that first book was Baer's (infectious) fixation with the mystery of the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, and I enjoyed "The Perfect Kill" for many of the same reasons. If you like Baer, or share he fascination with the unknowable and contradictory subterranean politics of the Middle East generally, and Lebanon particularly, you'll probably love this book. If not, you will still probably enjoy much it, but its trajectory may seem weird. For Baer, this book is deeply personal.
A few additional notes: The narration is absolutely outstanding. The organization is a little bit contrived but (especially in view of the redactions) not unmanageable.
Bottom line: This is not a 5-star book, but it's fun. If you're in the mood for to step through the looking glass, you won't find a better guide than Bob Baer -- well worth the credit.
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