Long before the waterboarding controversy exploded in the media, one CIA agent had already gone public. In a groundbreaking 2007 interview with ABC News, John Kiriakou called waterboarding torture - but admitted that it probably worked. This book, at once a confessional, an adventure story, and a chronicle of Kiriakou's life in the CIA, stands as an important, eloquent piece of testimony from a committed American patriot.
In February 2002, Kiriakou was the head of counterterrorism in Pakistan. Under his command, in a spectacular raid coordinated with Pakistani agents and the CIA's best intelligence analyst, Kiriakou's field officers took down the infamous terrorist Abu Zubaydah. For days, Kiriakou became the wounded terrorist's personal "bodyguard". In circumstances stranger than fiction, as al-Qaeda agents scoured the streets for their captured leader, the best trauma surgeon in America was flown to Pakistan to make sure that Zubaydah did not die.
In The Reluctant Spy, Kiriakou takes us into the fight against an enemy fueled by fanaticism. He chillingly describes what it was like inside the CIA headquarters on the morning of 9/11 - the agency leaders who stepped up and those who protected their careers. And in what may be the book's most shocking revelation, he describes how the White House made plans to invade Iraq a full year before the CIA knew about it - or could attempt to stop it. Chronicling both mind-boggling mistakes and heroic acts of individual courage, The Reluctant Spy is essential listening for anyone who wishes to understand the inner workings of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, the truth behind the torture debate, and the incredible dedication of ordinary men and women doing one of the most extraordinary jobs on earth.
Fans of Arthur Morey will not be disappointed as they listen to The Reluctant Spy. The autobiography is the story of John Kiriakou's tenure as both an analyst and covert operator at the nation’s spy shop.
Morey has much to draw from in The Reluctant Spy. Kiriakou writes of his Greek immigrant family and tells of an interest in the larger world that began when he was a boy. Morey leads listeners through the exploits of college student (and political junkie) Kiriakou as he tries to sneak his way into Capitol Hill functions to the author’s recruitment into the C.I.A., beginning not as a covert operator, but as an analyst of unstable countries and their suspect leaders. Through Morey we can imagine Kiriakou’s transition to a savvy operative whose fluency in Arabic and Greek make him highly sought after for duty in the Middle East and Pakistan.
Anxiety builds in Morey’s voice as Kiriakou identifies his targets and moves in for either the recruiting of informants or the capture of international terrorists. There is also unabashed anger to be heard as Kiriakou writes of essential evidence destroyed, mishandled, or even worse not investigated at all by the supposed partners of the C.I.A. in other government agencies.
You can also hear Kiriakou’s steely professionalism in Morey’s reading of the C.I.A. assignments, so painstakingly planned and meticulously executed. However, Morey also captures the anguish of a man caught between his job so much of which he could not share with friends or family and his increasingly problematic personal life. Fury even arises as Morey reads the author’s words describing how badly an acrimonious separation can destroy a father’s long-awaited visit with his children.
Listeners truly get a sense of the author’s expertise in his covert assignments, as well as his innate inability to suffer fools gladly. Several chapters of the book deal with Kiriakou’s take on torture (he’s not for it) and the C.I.A.’s bureaucratic ways. Morey perfects a sarcastic tone that allows you to grasp unequivocally the author’s exasperation with Standard Operating Procedures.
From feature film-like moments and bureaucratic tedium to the personal toll a life’s work takes on an individual, The Reluctant Spy is another exciting experience as the inner workings of a CIA professional’s career are brought to life by Arthur Morey. John Kiriakou is not afraid to share honestly his experiences, from the admirable to the not-so-much, providing a full palette for the talent of Morey. Carole Chouinard
“A mostly admiring portrait of the CIA but with telling critiques of its bureaucracy and of Congress's meddling in CIA affairs.” (Publishers Weekly)
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