Spy Games

Two former CIA officers discuss their lives and work in the Middle East and Russia.

Bakos, Nada with Davin Coburn. The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House. Little, Brown. Jun. 2019. 368p. notes. ISBN 9780316260473. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316260459. POL SCI
Experts will debate whether the Iraq War, which lasted from 2003 to 2011, was justified and necessary. Former CIA analyst and targeting officer Bakos was on the team that investigated the relationship among Iraq, Al-Qaeda, and the September 11 attacks. The author then became the chief targeting officer tasked with following terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. With this entrenched and firsthand account, Bakos challenges the information that then President George Bush used to justify the attack on Iraq. Bakos claims that there was never a clear relationship between Iraq and the 2001 attacks; moreover, she says her group never found proof that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) existed. The book begins with the author’s life story and how she came to join the CIA, then moves on to her career as she lived in Iraq and helped locate al-Zarqawi. She concludes with a passionate plea for the United States to develop a long-term plan for helping other countries rather than attacking and creating more disdain for America.
VERDICT Students and scholars of foreign policy will find many new facts that will help them better understand the complexity of the subject.—Jason L. Steagall, formerly with Gateway Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI

redstarMendez, Antonio & others. The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War. PublicAffairs. Jun. 2019. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9781541762190. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781541762176. POL SCI
Mendez ( Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in Histor y), the inspiration for Ben Affleck’s character in the film Argo, and his wife, Jonna Mendez ( Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations That Helped Win the Cold War ), share their experiences as spies in Moscow during the height of the Cold War in the mid-1980s. Collaborating with best-selling author Matt Baglio, who previously worked with Antonio on Argo, the authors begin with the initial list of the Moscow Rules and continue to discuss briefly the current state of affairs in Russia under Vladimir Putin, and how they interfered with the 2016 U.S. election. The Moscow Rules started as a list of guidelines for CIA spies to follow when in the Soviet Union, particularly the capital of Moscow, and included technological advancements as well as preferred disguises. The authors share the history of spy activity between the United States and the USSR and move on to outline the Mendezs’ unbelievable experiences.
VERDICT Those interested in the history of espionage and the Cold War will learn from these firsthand accounts about the bravery of the men and women who spied in Moscow; a thrilling read.—Jason L. Steagall, formerly with Gateway ­Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI




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