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Over several decades, Baer served as an operative, from Iraq to New Delhi and beyond; notably, his career was the model for the acclaimed movie Syriana. In The Perfect Kill, he takes us on a serpentine adventure through the history of political murder; its connections to, and differences from, the ubiquitous use of drones in state-sponsored killing; his firsthand experience with political executions; and his decades-long cat-and-mouse hunt, across the Middle East and Europe, for the most effective and deadliest assassin of the modern age. A true maverick with an undeniably captivating personal story, Baer pulls back the curtain on the underbelly of world politics and the quiet murderers who operate on the fringe of our society.
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By Mike on 01-06-15
Kill the King, Don't Slap Him
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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