Former CIA and FBI official Phil Mudd knows a lot of details you probably don't about CIA black sites.  He knows, because he was associated with the enhanced interrogation program that took place post 9/11.  Now, Mudd has written a new book, Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World that ...

BOOK REVIEW: Lincoln’s Spies      By Douglas Waller Reviewed by Michael Sulick Michael Sulick was the director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service.  He also served as Chief of Counterintelligence and Chief of the Central Eurasia Division where he was responsible for intelligence collection operations and foreign liaison relationships in Russia, Eastern ...

Alex Finley worked for CIA’s Directorate of Operations for about six years in the early 2000s.  Her roles took her to places like West Africa and Europe and also allowed for some time at Headquarters in Langley. Her work as a reports officer - which serves as a bridge between ...

BOOK REVIEW: Rules of Engagement: A Novel      By David Bruns and J.R. Olson Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Editor’s note: Last week, The Cipher Brief published a review written by CIA veteran Rob Richer of Dan Silva’s novel “The New Girl.”  Richer praised ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW GIRL     By Daniel Silva Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Richer retired from the CIA in November 2005. Prior to his assignment as the ADDO in 2004, Richer was the Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, responsible ...

Editors note: Daniel Silva is one of America’s most prolific and popular novelists.  His latest book, The New Girl, is officially out today, July 16th. Look for a full review of the book in The Cipher Brief this Friday, written by Cipher Brief Expert Rob Richer, who himself has had ...

Under/Cover is constantly probing for insights that will help readers (and writers) understand how to gauge demand, and how to know if that story they have burning inside of them, is actually a book.  We recently spoke with Bruce Nichols, Senior Vice President & Publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's (HMH) ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE SPY IN MOSCOW STATION     By Eric Haseltine Reviewed by Paul Kolbe, Former Member CIA's Senior Intelligence Service While reading The Spy in Moscow Station, I kept noticing a sub-tone emanating from the narrative, a steady low signal, like tinnitus through a subwoofer. I couldn’t place the ...

BOOK REVIEW: VICTOR IN THE JUNGLE     By Alex Finley Reviewed by Bill Harlow, The Cipher Brief  Senior Book Editor Alex Finley has an eye (and an ear) for the absurd.  A talent that no doubt came in useful during the six years she spent as a reports officer in the ...

BOOK REVIEW:   Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators and Assassins By Annie Jacobsen Reviewed by former CIA Paramilitary Operations Officer, Ian Allen In Neither Victims Nor Executioners, Albert Camus recalled “certain friends” – presumably Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre – who had accused him ...

BOOK REVIEW:  The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House By Nada Bakos  Reviewed by Jack Boger The vast majority of stories that have emerged from the war on terror star a now-familiar main character: male, macho, a military and/or intelligence officer, preferably bearded and ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Cult of the Dead Cow – How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World  By Joseph Menn  Reviewed by Christopher Messina Joseph Menn has good timing. The topic of cybersecurity has attained a degree of cultural currency that is still waxing. His book is part historical ...

BOOK REVIEW: Leading Intelligence Analysis: Lessons from the CIA’s Analytic Front Lines By Bruce E. Pease Reviewed by Christopher A. Corpora, PhD., Professor of Practice in Intelligence Studies, Mercyhurst University Many industries, governments and other complex social environments present a wide range of challenges to those who might lead in these ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Protected By Michael Trott Reviewed by Thomas Pecora, former CIA GS 15 Senior Security Officer Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a “bodyguard” for a high-ranking U.S. government official, the CEO of a large corporation, or the family of a billionaire?  In The Protected, ...

BOOK REVIEW: Honorable Exit: How A Few Brave Americans Risked All to Save Our Vietnamese Allies at the End of the War By Thurston Clarke Reviewed by Bill Harlow, former CIA Officer and Senior Book Editor, The Cipher Brief Most observers would probably say that the United States’ involvement in ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal By William Burns Reviewed by Gary Grappo, former U.S. Ambassador who held senior positions in Baghdad, Oman and Saudi Arabia Writing a memoir is something of a rite of passage for retiring senior government officials and diplomats. ...

BOOK REVIEW: To Catch A Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence By James M. Olson Reviewed by Mark Kelton, Former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence, CIA The realm of counterintelligence (CI) is the most cloistered of the intelligence world.  In his book To Catch a Spy, James Olson makes the invariably, and often ...

Bill Rapp’s real story is just as interesting as the ones he makes up. The former CIA Analyst began working in West Germany back when the country was still divided after World War II.  He also worked in Turkey and the Aegean, Canada, Iraq and London. It wasn’t where he ...

BOOK REVIEW: How We Win:  How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat By Farah Pandith Reviewed by Jeff Patterson, PhD, University of Texas at Austin Farah Pandith’s new book How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, ...

Extremist organizations are successfully preying on a rising generation of nearly one billion Muslim millennials in order to add to their ranks, according a new book published by Cipher Brief Expert Farah Pandith. Pandith was appointed as the first female Special Representative to Muslim Communities by the U.S. State Department ...

Thriller writer Brad Meltzer has written 32 books.  Most of them are children’s books, many are thrillers, 2 are ‘How-To’ books, 1 is a TV book and his latest, is the non-fiction, First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington, the author’s first foray into adult non-fiction. Last week, ...

It’s not exactly his first conspiracy, but thriller writer Brad Meltzer’s new book, First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington, is the author’s first non-fiction foray. Co-written with documentary producer Josh Mensch, The First Conspiracy pieces together the previously untold story about a secret plot to kill George ...

Bill Harlow knows how to use a word.  The Under/Cover Co-Editor and prolific author has worked with some of the very best in the national security world.  He was co-author of George Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, as well as roughly a half ...

Brad Thor has made a career out of secrets and espionage, and using them to craft the kind of adventures most people only ever dream about.  For the past (nearly) two decades, he's been cranking out a novel a year, (one year, he wrote two) and he’s managed to successfully ...

As General Douglas MacArthur famously said, "Old soldiers don't die, they just fade away." In the world of fiction, old spies don't die or fade away – they remain ageless, like James Bond, still agile enough for derring-do operations after decades, or they rise to the top of their intelligence ...

Graham Allison's ominously titled Destined for War fulfills an implied promise made by his seminal Atlantic magazine article 18 months ago. That article was labeled The Thucydides Trap: Are the US and China Headed for War? and indeed the ancient Greek historian's warnings permeate both that article and the current ...

In Alex Berenson’s new thriller, The Prisoner, his hero John Wells goes undercover in a European prison to smoke out a CIA mole who is providing deadly secrets to ISIS. This is Berenson’s eleventh book featuring Wells as a former CIA officer who speaks Arab and Pashto, and has spent ...

"Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History" (2016) tells the story of cybernetics, a control theory of man and machine devised by mathematician Norbert Wiener after WWII. Author Thomas Rid, who is a professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, shows how cybernetics was and still ...

When the Cipher Brief folks asked me to review the latest “Tom Clancy” novel, I was hesitant.  I already have a pile of books that I actually want to read, and I usually hate these type of “thrillers.” Further, the fact that Tom Clancy is long-dead was even more of ...

During times like these, it's admittedly hard to keep things in perspective. I bet that few Americans this past week have been contemplating the long march of human history. But I have. I've been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, a tenured professor of history ...

CIA operative Mitch Rapp, the ruthlessly efficient hero of Vince Flynn’s thrillers, has singlehandedly prevented a string of terrorist attacks since the series began in 2000. After Flynn’s untimely death, Kyle Mills, an author of numerous political thrillers, proves to be a worthy successor with Order to Kill, his second ...

Susan Williams’ book, Spies in the Congo, provides a well-researched and detailed history of the efforts of the Office of Strategic Services, America’s first strategic intelligence agency and the forerunner of the CIA, to establish itself in the Congo as well as West Africa.  In telling the OSS story, Dr. ...

Mark Henshaw’s latest spy thriller could have been ripped straight from today’s headlines as tensions between Moscow and Washington continue to mount. The Fall of Moscow Station is the third installment to Henshaw’s Red Cell series and follows the latest adventures of two CIA analysts, Kyra Stryker and Jonathan Burke, ...

Brad Thor’s latest thriller Foreign Agent is the fifteenth in his Scot Harvath series, and finds former Navy SEAL Harvath fighting both ISIS and evil Russians bent on luring the U.S. into another war in the Middle East.  As an espionage snob, I was fully prepared to write a nasty ...

Duty and Honor is the latest in the multi-volume series by Tom Clancy and his successors featuring Jack Ryan and his son Jack, Jr., who works in the “Campus,” a covert counterterrorism unit established by his father, the U.S. President. Clancy fans eager for the geopolitical intrigue, intricate plots, and ...

Daniel Silva’s The Black Widow is the most relevant to contemporary events and most chillingly prescient of all his celebrated novels. Gabriel Allon, the art restorer and spy hero of Silva’s previous novels, is about to become head of Israeli intelligence. His promotion, however, is postponed when he is enlisted ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with David Hoffman to discuss his new book, The Billion Dollar Spy.  He gave us his thoughts on storytelling and what he’s learned after years of covering Russia as a journalist. The Cipher Brief:  How did you make the transition from journalism to writing books ...