BOOK REVIEW:  Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell By Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant Reviewed by Brian Raymond Brian Raymond served as National Security Council Director for Iraq from 2014-2015. He participated in numerous meetings with President Obama in the ...

BOOK REVIEW: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War:  The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler By Lynne Olson Reviewed by Rick Ledgett Rick Ledgett served as the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency from January 2014 until his retirement in April 2017, culminating a nearly 40-year career ...

BOOK REVIEW: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA  By Amaryllis Fox Reviewed by Suzanne Kelly Suzanne Kelly is CEO & Publisher of The Cipher Brief. She previously served as an Intelligence Correspondent and Executive Producer for CNN. Prior to that, she was a freelance anchor for CNN International ...

Undercover readers might remember that we introduced you this past spring to Bill Rapp, a former CIA analyst turned author.  He’s an interesting character in his own right, with the look and charm of Sam Elliott.  In his new book, The Budapest Escape, Rapp brings back old characters and descriptions ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director of security and, after returning from ...

BOOK REVIEW: Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World by Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch Reviewed by Christopher Messina The subject of Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World is one many Americans will have strong opinions about. ...

REVIEW: Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It by Richard Stengel Reviewed by Cindy L. Otis Cindy L. Otis served in the CIA as a military analyst, intelligence briefer, and manager in the Directorate of Intelligence. While at the CIA, ...

BOOK REVIEW: Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character By Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) Reviewed by John Nixon John Nixon was a senior leadership analyst with the CIA from 1998 to 2011. He did several tours in Iraq and was recognized by a number of federal agencies ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Killing in the Consulate: Investigating the Life and Death of Jamal Khashoggi By Jonathan Rugman Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia’s Exiles, Emigres, and Agents Abroad By Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan Reviewed by Joseph W. Augustyn Joseph W. Augustyn is a 28 year-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, and once served as the Director of the Defector Resettlement ...

BOOK REVIEW: Guardian: Life in the Crosshairs of the CIA’s War on Terror By Thomas Pecora Reviewed by Mike Howard Mike Howard is the former Chief Security Officer for Microsoft, where he worked for 16 years.  He is also a former CIA Security and Operations Officer, a role which he held ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Empty Hearts By Juli Zeh Reviewed by Carol Rollie Flynn Carol Rollie Flynn is CEO/Managing Principal at Singa Consulting and a 30-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency where she served as Executive Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, and Chief of Station in major posts in Southeast ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Public Diplomacy: Foundations for Global Engagement in the Digital Era By Nicholas J. Cull Reviewed by Jeff Patterson, PhD Jeff Patterson, PhD, is a lecturer in strategic communications and political strategy at The University of Texas at Austin.  In his latest book, Public Diplomacy: Foundations for Global Engagement in ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon By Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense Reviewed by Carol Saynisch, M.A., APR Carol Saynisch is a Washington state-based journalist/geopolitical analyst. She has worked with Pentagon-connected international defense contractors since 1994 and has written scenarios and simulated ...

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 ...