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:  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:  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, ...

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: The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe By George Beebe Reviewed by Michael Sulick Cipher Brief Expert Michael Sulick served as director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service and is currently a consultant on counterintelligence and global risk assessment. While at CIA, Sulick also ...

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 ...

TV SERIES REVIEW: The SPY A Netflix Miniseries Reviewed by Paul Kolbe Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Kolbe also led BP’s global Intelligence and Analysis team supporting threat warning, risk mitigation, and crisis response.  Prior to that, ...

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: 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 ...

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 Nada Bakos Nada Bakos is a former CIA Analyst and author of the book, The Targeter: My Life in the CIA Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White ...

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 ...

[ED NOTE from Cipher Brief CEO Suzanne Kelly: I met Nada Bakos, the author of The Targeter:  My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House, nearly a decade ago.  We had a mutual friend, whom Bakos refers to only as ‘Katherine’ in the book and the ...

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: The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War By Antonio and Jonna Mendez Reviewed by Robert Dannenberg, 24-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running Moscow operations both from CIA headquarters and in the field  “There is no limit to a human being’s ...

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 ...