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Monday, June 15, 2015

The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames

I have always been obsessed with all things CIA, so I picked up Kai Bird's The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames for a little clandestine operation fix this past weekend. 

April 18, 1983. The American Embassy in Beirut is bombed. 63 people lost their lives, Americans and Lebanese alike. This was a turning point in Middle East and American relations, and this was a catalyst in events to come. Robert Ames, who lost his life that day, was arguably one of the greatest CIA agents in existence. This narrative chronicles his life and his work in the Middle East, and it is a celebration of a brand of spying that changed the way good spy work was done.

This was one hell of a book. I was really blown away by the incredibly accounting of a life well lived and tragically lost. Bird knew the Ames's as a child, and he brought a gravitas to the story that lent respectfulness and awe to a man who took his job seriously and loved every minute of it. Bird also did a wonderful job of emphasizing the effect the work had on the Ames family. His children did not know what he did, but his wife Yvonne was a CIA wife until the end. Her willingness to share a bit of Bob for the world was really incredible and made this book even better than it would have been without her input.

It is incredible how in retrospect the history of Hezbollah, Palestinian-Israeli relations, and how these have come to effect America fall into place. There was so much history that I wasn't aware of, and there were power players that I may have heard in passing but wasn't aware of exactly how involved they were or what role they played. This book is also an incredible piece of historical non-fiction, and it's worth reading just to get a sense of how we ended up where we are today in our Middle East relations. 

For purchase below. 

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