BOOK REVIEW: The Cellist By Daniel Silva / Harper Reviewed by Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret) The Reviewer – Cipher Brief Expert Admiral James Stavridis, USN, Ret. was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He is currently Vice Chair, Global Affairs and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group and ...

BOOK REVIEW: SPY SWAP: The Humiliation of Russia’s Intelligence Services By Nigel West / Frontline Books Reviewed by Joseph Augustyn, Former Sr. CIA Officer The Reviewer -- Joseph W. Augustyn is a 28-year CIA veteran, where he served in a variety of posts to include chief of the Agency’s defector ...

BOOK REVIEW: Congress Overwhelmed - The Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform By Editors Timothy M. LaPira, Lee Drutman and Kevin Kosar / University of Chicago Press Reviewed by Jason U. Manosevitz The Reviewer - Jason U. Manosevitz is an officer in the Intelligence Community with 16 years of ...

BOOK REVIEW: Red Widow: A Novel / Putnam  By: Alma Katsu Reviewed by Alison Bouwmeester THE REVIEWER —Alison P. Bouwmeester served for 28 years as a senior leader in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations. After retiring from the CIA, she spent nearly a decade as a senior business executive ...

BOOK REVIEW: Three Wise Men: A Navy SEAL, a Green Beret and How their Marine Brother Became a War’s Sole Survivor  By Beau Wise and Tom Sileo / St. Martin’s Press Reviewed by Brad Christian THE REVIEWER — Cipher Brief Expert Brad Christian is a former Green Beret and former Army Ranger ...

BOOK REVIEW: 2034: A Novel of the Next World War By Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis Reviewed by Martin Petersen THE REVIEWER — Cipher Brief Expert Martin Petersen is the former Director of the Office of East Asian Analysis and the Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis in the ...

BOOK REVIEW: Eagle Down: The Last Special Forces Fighting the Forever War by Jessica Donati / PublicAffairs Reviewed by Damon Walsh, Chairman, Mission Solutions Group THE REVIEWER — Damon Walsh is a retired US Army Officer with over thirty years of combined military and defense industry experience. He served as an Infantry ...

The Cipher Brief is committed to a free exchange of ideas. Our book reviewers are drawn from the ranks of our readers -- and they are encouraged to "call 'em as they see 'em." Not all of the reviews we publish are positive, particularly when the subject matter is highly ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia and the Political Warfare 1945-2020  by Tim Weiner / Henry Holt & Co. Reviewed by Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley (Ret.) Cipher Brief Expert Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr. (Ret.) is a career Army intelligence officer having served over thirty-six years ...

(The Cipher Brief is an amazon affiliate and may make a small commission on books purchased via The Cipher Brief. ) UnderCover Senior Book Editor Bill Harlow served on active duty in the US Navy for 25 years and served as Assistant White House Press Secretary and spokesman for the Secretary ...

BOOK REVIEW: Law and Leviathan: Redeeming the Administrative State by Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule / Belknap Press Reviewed by Terence Check Terence Check is an attorney in the federal government, and works on data privacy, biometrics, counterterrorism, criminal law, cybersecurity, information-sharing and technology-related matters. All opinions and statements are his own. ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by Ben Macintyre / Crown Reviewed by Dan Hoffman Cipher Brief Expert Dan Hoffman is a former CIA Chief of Station with 30 years of government service including high-level positions with the U.S. military, Department of State, and Department of Commerce. Hoffman’s ...

BOOK REVIEW:  America in the World: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy by Robert B. Zoellick / Twelve Reviewed by Jason U. Manosevitz Jason U. Manosevitz is an officer in the Intelligence Community with 16 years of experience covering military and political issues in Asia and the Middle ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Geospatial Intelligence: Origins and Evolution  by Robert Clark / Georgetown University Press Reviewed by Robert Cardillo Cipher Brief Expert Robert Cardillo served as the sixth Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Prior to that assignment, Mr. Cardillo served as the first Deputy Director for Intelligence Integration, ODNI, ...

[Editors Note: Cipher Brief Senior Book Editor Bill Harlow recently had a conversation with author Chris Whipple about his new book: The Spymasters. A review of the book can be found here. In the book’s acknowledgments section, Whipple thanks Harlow for his assistance.  Harlow tell us that was mostly for ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Dead Doubles: The Extraordinary Worldwide Hunt for One of the Cold War’s Most Notorious Spy Rings by Trevor Barnes 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 ...

Ever wonder how a CIA Analyst spots fake news? A new book out today by former CIA Analyst Cindy Otis, True or False:  A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News takes a crack at sharing the kind of analytical thinking that helps you know what you’re reading online and ...

Alison Bouwmeester spent 28 years working as a CIA case officer.  When she retired and went to work in the private sector, she found that many of her former colleagues reached out to her for advice.  It turns out the private sector looked a little different than the government that ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare by Thomas Rid Reviewed by Rick Ledgett Cipher Brief Expert 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 in cryptology at ...

Sarah Carlson is the author of a new book, In the Dark of War: A CIA Officer’s Inside Account of the U.S. Evacuation from Libya based in part, on her time working as a Targeting Analyst in CIA's Counterterrorism Center.  Carlson specialized in threats and attack plans directed against the U.S. and ...

BOOK REVIEW:  China’s Western Horizon: Beijing and the New Geopolitics of Eurasia  by Daniel S. Markey Reviewed by Ambassador Joseph DeTrani Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West by Catherine Belton Reviewed by John Sipher Reviewer and Cipher Brief Expert John Sipher retired in 2014 after a 28-year career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, which included serving in Moscow and running the ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Chinese Communist Espionage: An Intelligence Primer by Peter Mattis and Matthew Brazil Reviewed by Martin Petersen Martin Petersen is a Cipher Brief Expert and former Director of the Office of East Asian Analysis and the Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis in the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence.  ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution by Peter W. Singer and August Cole Reviewed by Niloofar Razi Howe  Niloofar Razi Howe is a cybersecurity and technology executive, investor and board member. She currently serves as Sr. Operating Partner at Energy Impact Partners, Sr. Fellow at New America, ...

Innovation is a key component of readiness when it comes to future threats. NATO’s Innovation Hub recently commissioned a short story from author August Cole, asking him to draw upon his writing and imaginative abilities to create a picture of what NATO operations could be like in the year 2040. ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Reigning the Future: AI, 5G, Huawei and the Next 30 Years of the US-China Rivalry  by Dennis Wang Reviewed by Terence Check Terence Check is an attorney in the federal government, and works on data privacy, biometrics, counterterrorism, criminal law, cybersecurity, information-sharing and technology-related matters. All opinions and statements ...

The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorists By Tracy Walder | @tracy_walder Tracy Walder is a former Staff Operations Officer (SOO) at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and a former Special Agent at the FBI's Los Angeles Field ...

In the age of COVID-19, The Cipher Brief reached out to our expert network to ask what they were reading.    Cipher Brief Expert Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering ...

BOOK REVIEW:  The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics by Ben Buchanan Reviewed by Peter M. Tran Peter M. Tran is a former NCIS Special Agent and information security, cyber defense technology, and security operations expert.  He has over 20 years of experience developing and ...

BOOK REVIEW:  The Ambassadors: America’s Diplomats on the Front Lines by Paul Richter Reviewed by Ambassador Deborah K. Jones Ambassador Deborah K. Jones retired from the U.S. Department of State in November 2016 with the rank of Career Minister following 34 years of service that included Presidential appointments as Chief of ...

Long-time BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera recently published a new book, Russians Among Us: Sleeper Cells, Ghost Stories and the Hunt for Putin’s Spies.    The book explores the explosive story of Russia’s espionage efforts against the United States and the West and provides riveting details about ten Russian sleeper ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Spy Sites of New York City: A Guide to the Region’s Secret History by H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace Reviewed by Mitchell D. Silber Cipher Brief Expert Mitchell D. Silber is the former director of intelligence analysis at the NYPD Intelligence Division and currently serves as the ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Russians Among Us: Sleeper Cells, Ghost Stories and the Hunt for Putin’s Spies by Gordon Corera Reviewed by Joseph Augustyn Joseph Augustyn is a 28-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service and once headed the CIA’s Defector Resettlement Program For five years, from 2013-2018, the American television viewing ...

BOOK REVIEW: Secrets and Spies:  UK Intelligence Accountability After Iraq and Snowden By Jamie Gaskarth Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Cipher Brief Expert 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: When Reagan Sent in the Marines: The Invasion of Lebanon By Patrick J. Sloyan Reviewed by Robert Richer Cipher Brief Expert Robert Richer retired in November 2005 from the Central Intelligence Agency as the Associate Deputy Director for Operations (ADDO). Prior to his assignment as the ADDO, Richer ...

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power By Yaakov Katz Reviewed by Marc Polymeropoulos Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution By Gregory Zuckerman Reviewed by Christopher Messina Messina is an investor and entrepreneur who works in global capital markets, cybersecurity, commodities and technology. He is Co-Founder and CEO of CrowdFill, a next-generation asset trading fintech firm, is ...

Cipher Brief Expert Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations.  He led the Intelligence investigation for the CIA into Edward Snowden's activities once he fled the U.S. in 2013. Speaking in 1978, journalist David Frost wryly ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Nuclear Spies: America’s Atomic Intelligence Operation against Hitler and Stalin By Vince Houghton Reviewed by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen Rolf Mowatt-Larssen served over three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. Before that, he served 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer ...

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 ...