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The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA | [Joby Warrick]

The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole who Infiltrated the CIA

In December 2009, a group of the CIA’s top terrorist hunters gathered at a secret base in Khost, Afghanistan, to greet a rising superspy: Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian double-agent who infiltrated the upper ranks of al-Qaeda. For months, he had sent shocking revelations from inside the terrorist network and now promised to help the CIA assassinate Osama bin Laden’s top deputy. Instead, as he stepped from his car, he detonated a 30-pound bomb strapped to his chest, instantly killing seven CIA operatives....
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Publisher's Summary

A stunning narrative account of the mysterious Jordanian who penetrated both the inner circle of al-Qaeda and the highest reaches of the CIA, with a devastating impact on the war on terror.

In December 2009, a group of the CIA’s top terrorist hunters gathered at a secret base in Khost, Afghanistan, to greet a rising superspy: Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian double-agent who infiltrated the upper ranks of al-Qaeda. For months, he had sent shocking revelations from inside the terrorist network and now promised to help the CIA assassinate Osama bin Laden’s top deputy. Instead, as he stepped from his car, he detonated a 30-pound bomb strapped to his chest, instantly killing seven CIA operatives, the agency’s worst loss of life in decades.

In The Triple Agent, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Joby Warrick takes us deep inside the CIA’s secret war against al-Qaeda, a war that pits robotic planes and laser-guided missiles against a cunning enemy intent on unleashing carnage in American cities. Flitting precariously between the two sides was Balawi, a young man with extraordinary gifts who managed to win the confidence of hardened terrorists as well as veteran spymasters. With his breathtaking accounts from inside al-Qaeda’s lair, Balawi appeared poised to become America’s greatest double-agent in half a century - but he was not at all what he seemed. Combining the powerful momentum of Black Hawk Down with the institutional insight of Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, Warrick takes the readers on a harrowing journey from the slums of Amman to the inner chambers of the White House in an untold true story of miscalculation, deception, and revenge.

From the Hardcover edition

©2011 Joby Warrick (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"The Triple Agent is a spy thriller like no other. Never has such a giant intelligence debacle been chronicled this vividly, this intimately. Riveting and harrowing, laden with deception and duplicity, it is a remarkable, behind-the-curtain account of the CIA’s darkest day in Afghanistan." (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City)

“Absolutely first-rate, breakthrough reporting.”(Bob Woodward, author of Obama’s Wars)

The Triple Agent is a superlative piece of reporting and writing. Joby Warrick manages to take the reader inside the CIA, Jordanian intelligence, and al-Qaeda. His intimate portraits of intelligence officers and the terrorists they stalk are unforgettable. The Triple Agent is one of the best true-life spy stories I have ever read.” (David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post and author of Bloodmoney)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (265 )
5 star
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4.2 (197 )
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  •  
    Melissa Louisville, KY, United States 08-11-11
    Melissa Louisville, KY, United States 08-11-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great modern history story"

    The story is well told and captures the reader. We have read the newspaper accounts of the story, but this book fleshes out the real people involved on all three sides of the story. The author pulls together the facts to show us what all three sides were looking for and the human toll it took. The narrator does a fine job. Good read overall.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Parham Marietta, GA, United States 08-21-11
    Parham Marietta, GA, United States 08-21-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "fantastically written and narrated."

    I've read and researched every book written on intelligence in the middle east and this one of the best on the topic. This is a story which everyone needs to read, to understand the sacrifices and tough decisions that our intelligence agents make everyday.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 10-24-11
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing Story of Courage and Mistakes"

    Joby Warrick in The Triple Agent has provided readers with an exciting, informative, and thought provoking glimpse inside the CIA and the disaster at Camp Chapman. Throughout the book, Warrick simply tells the story – unapologetically and journalistically. The reader is free to come to conclusions at will. In the process of telling this story, the reader is thoroughly introduced to the bomber and the victims he took with him. In places Warrick takes your breath away. In others, details he has uncovered jar the reader awake. At times, the narrative brings tears and a serious appreciation for the men and women of the CIA who sacrifice so much in the service they perform to the nation. The book is worth the price of admission for nothing else than the subplot involving Elizabeth Hanson and Jennifer Matthews. Just amazing. This is one page turner. The reading of Sunil Madlhotra is wonderful. Don’t miss it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas SADDLE RIVER, NJ, United States 12-30-13
    Thomas SADDLE RIVER, NJ, United States 12-30-13
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    "Fascinating look at the CIA'a org structure"
    Would you listen to The Triple Agent again? Why?

    Yes


    What other book might you compare The Triple Agent to and why?

    Jaw Breaker.

    Both books examine how the CIA makes decisions regarding promotions and the selection of personnel as it relates specific assignments.


    What does Sunil Malhotra bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent speaking voice.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    What made the book interesting to me was the authors examination of how the CIA makes personnel decisions. Like any other organization, the CIA has to make important personnel decisions, and like any other organization they get caught up in political correctness instead of putting the best person in the job-

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DS NH 02-13-13
    DS NH 02-13-13 Member Since 2012

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    82
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    5
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    Story
    "FAILURE OF IMAGINATION"

    A CIA analyst, with minimal field training, is put in charge of the main CIA base in Afghanistan. The CIA agent, an ambitious woman and an evangelical christian, decides to put her faith in the valued double agent He is not searched and she makes sure that all the intelligence agents are present to greet him, to show him respect.

    What follows is the worst CIA failure in history and a great read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Panama City, FL, United States 02-12-12
    Mr. Panama City, FL, United States 02-12-12 Member Since 2007

    Jonnie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spy thriller... kinda"

    This was a better than average, but not a great listen. The basic premise was intriguing but the story failed to deliver in the details. Overall though, I'm glad I bought the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Philadelphia, PA, United States 01-23-12
    James Philadelphia, PA, United States 01-23-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Extraordinary detail.. with a great ending"
    What did you love best about The Triple Agent?

    Triple Agent sort of amazed me with the details obtained by the writer. I found myself wondering how he got all this access and information.


    What aspect of Sunil Malhotra’s performance would you have changed?

    Malhorta seemed to get way to much enjoyment out of saying the word's 'Pakistan' and 'Afghanistan' in an unusual way.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki Princeton, NJ, United States 01-09-12
    Vicki Princeton, NJ, United States 01-09-12 Member Since 2003
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    3
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    "A TRAGIC TRUE-LIFE THRILLER"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Triple Agent to be better than the print version?

    It can be a little hard keeping characters straight in an audio presentation--especially if there are a lot of them and when they have foreign names. But the author did a pretty good job of providing little clues to keep the listener on track. I love audio books, in general, and believe a good reader, as this book had, adds to the understanding of the text. What isn't easy to do, of course, is go back and reread a paragraph or page.


    What other book might you compare The Triple Agent to and why?

    Although this was a true-life story, it was paced like a fictional thriller, with the author skillfully building tension and bringing out aspects of the characters that made them engaging people, whose fates the listener cared about. Amazingly, the tension was sustained, despite knowing the episode's outcome. I'd compare it, in its exploration of the ambiguous realities of Afghanistan and what Americans face there, to Frederick Forsyth's The Afghan (an audiobook I've listened to twice).


    What about Sunil Malhotra’s performance did you like?

    The reader did an excellent job of text interpretation and character differentiation.


    Any additional comments?

    I read some 50 books in 2012--including several prize-winners--and listened on audio to at least a dozen more. This was one of my half-dozen favorites. From thousands of miles away, it can be easy to put Iraq and Afghanistan out of our minds; this book made the real sacrifices of real people very, very painfully present.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Adams USA 12-02-11
    J. Adams USA 12-02-11 Member Since 2009

    MrBizzleTex

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic! Exceedingly well paced! super narration"

    A Great book for anyone interested in espionage, the cia, the nsa or any of the like but not only for just them...This is a great book for anyone who enjoyed a well paced book with a fascinating subject matter wrapped up with a great, attention keeping narration. Its well worth a credit!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deborah Saint Paul, MN, United States 11-08-11
    deborah Saint Paul, MN, United States 11-08-11 Member Since 2003

    Say something about yourself! I am a runner and avid listener to books. Audible allow me to do my two favorite things at the same time.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Triple Great Listen"
    If you could sum up The Triple Agent in three words, what would they be?

    CIA messed up even after 911


    What other book might you compare The Triple Agent to and why?

    It read like a thriller: John le Carre novel or a Daniel Silva novel


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The CIA was incredibly naive and the making of a terrorist is complex and simple in its equation


    Any additional comments?

    I was driving across the country for a vacation and I didn't want to stop because I was enjoying the book so much. Very easy to listen to and is a page turner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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