What is the definition of assassination? Robert B. Baer's boss at the CIA once told him, "It's a bullet with a man's name on it." Sometimes assassination is the senseless act of a psychotic, a bloodletting without social value. Other times, it can be the sanest and most humane way to change the course of conflict - one bullet, one death, case closed. Assassination has been dramatized by literature and politicized by infamous murders throughout history, and for Robert Baer, one of the most accomplished agents to ever work for the CIA, it's a source of endless fascination, speculation, and intrigue.
Over several decades, Baer served as an operative, from Iraq to New Delhi and beyond; notably, his career was the model for the acclaimed movie Syriana. In The Perfect Kill, he takes us on a serpentine adventure through the history of political murder; its connections to, and differences from, the ubiquitous use of drones in state-sponsored killing; his firsthand experience with political executions; and his decades-long cat-and-mouse hunt, across the Middle East and Europe, for the most effective and deadliest assassin of the modern age. A true maverick with an undeniably captivating personal story, Baer pulls back the curtain on the underbelly of world politics and the quiet murderers who operate on the fringe of our society.
©2014 Robert B. Baer (P)2014 Penguin Audio
The Perfect Kill is not so much a book about assassination's "rules"as it is a book about Lebanon, Baer, and the career of one particular assassin who was active in Lebanon In the 1980s, and for two decades thereafter, until his eventually slaying (presumably by Israeli intelligence) in 2008. That man - Hajj Radwan - was was something like the "White Whale" of Baer's CIA career and post-career. This is quite understandable, as Radwan was not only a prolific political killer, but a "ghost," who for much of his career evaded so much as single photograph. His roles in the 1983 embassy bombing, barracks bombing, and scores of other attacks, are laid bare in this book (to a greater degree than in Baer's previous book), and Baer even draws a line between him and the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. Hearing Baer speculate about the cause and effect relationships of seemingly disparate events is truly fascinating stuff. He is a brilliant spook and this is his beat.
I've been admirer of Bob Baer's since reading his first book in 2002, "See No Evil," a memoir organized around his experience as a CIA officer in Lebanon in the 1980s. One of the highlights of that first book was Baer's (infectious) fixation with the mystery of the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, and I enjoyed "The Perfect Kill" for many of the same reasons. If you like Baer, or share he fascination with the unknowable and contradictory subterranean politics of the Middle East generally, and Lebanon particularly, you'll probably love this book. If not, you will still probably enjoy much it, but its trajectory may seem weird. For Baer, this book is deeply personal.
A few additional notes: The narration is absolutely outstanding. The organization is a little bit contrived but (especially in view of the redactions) not unmanageable.
Bottom line: This is not a 5-star book, but it's fun. If you're in the mood for to step through the looking glass, you won't find a better guide than Bob Baer -- well worth the credit.
Does a fantastic job of examining how an assassin thinks. Really puts us in there footsteps and allows the reader to see "terrorism" from the other side. Why people do it. How people justify it and mostly why most Americans can or will not ever understand.
I thought there were one liners in here that make the read worth the time spent wading through material that was vague for security reasons. Baer's main point ...that hackers and drone operators should not be the core method of intelligence and defense is well explicated.
narrator was awesome. he made the author sound like the gruff man that wrote all those stories. the way this was organized into 21 tips was brilliant. weaving the story throughout was the best way to tell. so many ex-cia stories are boring retellings. this one stands out head & shoulders!
It was a great look into political homicide. I've never even thought about it political homicide on a serious level. But this book was very intriguing. I must say though, it was really sporadic and a little hard to follow at times. Wish he would've tried to make it more chronological.
My second Baer book. The prose was much better than the first as was the narration (Baer elected not to narrate this one). The story focuses on the author's CIA days in Lebanon and both his fear and idolization of a Shiite Lebanese political assassin and terrorist. Thus, the title should read 21 laws for POLITICAL assassins. There is a difference.
The author leads us on a fanciful, yet undetermined and unsuccessful effort to track down his nemesis. In doing so, he lays out what he believes are the essential rules for a good political killer. He regularly attempts to use little vignettes to make his point. More often than not however, the stories simply left me trying to decipher the intended relationship.
At the end of both books, I must empathize with Baer. He calls himself a foot soldier. But, in reality is little more than a puffy little bureaucrat left to dangle at the end of an even larger bureaucracy in Washington and Langley. Though he does his best to glamorize it, it must have been an unfulfilling career.
I found the stories about Lebanon interesting.
The story line jumps around in time and place from the 1980's to 2010 mostly in the middle east, but some of Europe as well without much continuity. The book is organized more as a collection of short stories about various assassins and their targets.
A story with clear lessons, full of great case studies regarding the act of assassination. The author includes many great quotes, and titles that help put the lesson in perspective. Like always he is just as quick to point out his failures, as he is his successes, and most importantly what was learned from it. Although I understand and agree, with the reasons for changing names for security purposes, I do not agree with doing so for the story flow(readers inability to find out the pronunciation of complex names).
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