The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence

Hachette. Sept. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9780306847301. $30. POL SCI
London retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2019, after a 34-year distinguished career, in which he served under six Republican and five Democratic presidents. Here he shares his story of what life is like for United States case officers and how they perform the art of recruiting and retaining agents. Much of the content has been redacted, but London still speaks truth to power and criticizes the CIA for becoming a cult of personality following 9/11, where loyalty is often prized more than intelligence gathering. The author calls for the revitalization of counterterrorism programs to limit the emergence of foreign terrorist cells, although he cautions about more likely domestic terrorism from lone wolves and white supremacists. The most fascinating chapters describe what life is like for CIA officials in nations that don’t welcome Americans, and what special challenges London encountered when his wife and children lived with him overseas. London and his family dealt with illness and poor medical care, lack of support networks, and threats of rocket attacks, kidnappings, and car bombings.
VERDICT This mostly fast-moving account is at times slowed by jargon and acronyms. It will appeal to general readers and specialists intrigued by the modern CIA.
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