Gray Work

Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy
Narrated by: Jeff Gurner
Length: 15 hrs and 17 mins
4 out of 5 stars (658 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this unprecedented audiobook, a paramilitary contractor with more than two decades of experience gives us a firsthand look into the secret lives of America's private warriors and their highly covert work around the world. Author Jamie Smith has planned and executed hundreds of missions on behalf of government agencies and private industry in some of the world's most dangerous hot spots - and lived to tell the tale.

They are elite warriors who run highly dangerous missions deep inside foreign countries on the brink of war. Jamie Smith knows these men well. Not only is he one of them, but he was the founding director of one of the most successful global, private military contracting firms. For the first time, he breaks his silence, pulling back the curtain to reveal in raw, intimate terms exactly what paramilitary spies and operators like him do when the government cannot act or take public responsibility.

Combining the thrilling narrative of an international spy thriller with bracing boots-on-the-ground realism, Gray Work follows Smith through grinding CIA training and his career as an operative, his work with Blackwater Security, and the creation of his own successful company. Here is the grit and gristle of modern warfare, from espionage and assassinations, rescues and renditions; from the dark corners of the Arab Spring and the fall of Qadhafi to black ops; from Syria to Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and beyond. Smith has fought terrorists and won; he was ambushed on a mission in Pakistan and took a bullet through his shoulder and to his back and subsequently survived a grueling mountain trek that almost cost him his life.

As founding director of Blackwater Security and then as head of his own company, Smith has helped shape a decade of war. His book powerfully illustrates how the men who serve in this gray area between the public and private worlds are transforming the art and science of modern warfare.

©2015 Jamie Smith (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about Gray Work

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Total horse sh!+. This book is far from true

While the author may have had a few close calls in his career, he makes himself out to be a super spy. Consider this book fiction with a few stories embellished.

29 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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This guy is a fraud. The stolen valor is sickening

This book is a complete work of fiction. Google Jamie Smith and decide for yourself

12 people found this helpful

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don't waste your time

wasted time comes off as a know it all that's more like a wannabe. Not a good edit and poor sound quality.

24 people found this helpful

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BS Book

I did my research on this book I can't believe Harper published it Jamie Smith is a con artist

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

What a load of malarkey.

I started listening to this book and after chapter one I could tell things didn't add up. The further I got in the book the more full of crap the author seemed to be. I couldn't stomach the whole book, and decided to look into this guy. Low and behold he is full of crap ever his co-workers said so.

32 people found this helpful

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Don't believe a word of it.

It's all fake. Just Google the author, that will tell you all you need to know.

41 people found this helpful

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Read about Jamie Smith before buying

Read about the author prior to buying this book, it puts a whole other perspective on the stories it contains.

16 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Not true?

After I finished, I read more about the author and learned that many sources claim that his history is fabricated.

If you are looking for an interesting story it was. Just really disappointed to learn that it's potentially false.

7 people found this helpful

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Should be in fiction

I found out about half way that most of the stories in this book are fabricated. See Outside magazine for a thorough run down.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Annoyingly Arrogant Fiction

I knew the credibility of the Author was in question however, I thought maybe it would be a good book if I thought of it as fiction. I was wrong. Its terrible and, the author is so arrogant. listen to yhe reviewers and do not buy.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 05-06-17

More fairytales than Disney

I should have googled the author before buying the book. It's basically fiction. He is as right wing as they come and is totally delusional. The book was winding me up with the cobblers he was telling, it got to the point I actually found it funny in a perverse way. At one point he mentions something in the Quran and says "they actually believe this stuff" then he quotes the Bible in the next paragraph. He actually believes that stuff, I'd say you couldn't make it up but he did.

He scams a retired couple of 12mil and gives that a paragraph.

I think he's got some sort of disorder.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Cath
  • 05-23-18

Google the author before purchase!!

Seems likely that this is full of lies. A shame as its a great story!

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-10-17

jamie smith seems to see himself as john wayne!!!

What disappointed you about Gray Work?

interesting experiences in contemporary conflict situation, let down by right wing view that increased conflict would have solved problems in Iraq, Jamie smith is clearly anti-Obama and rabidly keen on conflict as the solution but then I suppose that how he makes his living

What will your next listen be?

andy mcnad immediate action

How did the narrator detract from the book?

narrator was ok

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

interesting in that it gave a first person account of Libya and other conflict regions as they started to implode

Any additional comments?

more suitable to American audience, reinforces stereotypes of how some americans view the rest of the world

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 10-31-18

Extremely Disappointing

Not a lot to say really. The story is extremely well narrated.

Initially I was extremely taken in by the supposedly extraordinary exploits of this so called paramilitary spy. I decided to do a little digging to find more about the man behind the book and what I found was that this man has no credibility from the security services whatsoever and the majority, if not all, of his claims are unfounded. Although the CIA can never confirm or deny his involvement within their ranks a number of senior ex CIA operatives have spoken out at his claims and fundamentally dismiss his claims.

This book must be taken as a fictional book and not fact. I have read a lot of books like this and Jamie Smith seems to know his stuff however my suspicions were first aroused by his exceptional memory of events which happened 15 years ago. His recollection of conversations and descriptive details are in line with the best fictional spy writers and will easily drag you into his world.

I advise you to do a little research on Jamie Smith before you decide to read this book as it turns out he is a habitual liar and a bit of a con man. please read https://www.outsideonline/1926591/spy-who-scammed-us.

If you can get past this then it is a very good FICTIONAL book.


1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 12-01-16

Obviously not true from the first page

Furious at how the publisher misrepresented this book. I didn't need to read the reviews to tell me the author was a fraud, i just listened to the first bravado filled
cliche chapter

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Berry
  • 06-05-16

Gritty and funny

At times I found myself on the edge of my seat feeling as if I was in those dusty streets with the author and then a small quip would make me burst out laughing

Busier than a one winged bird will be part of my life for ever more

Thank you for your service

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 11-24-16

American propaganda

book spoiled by gos is great and America is the greatest at everything bias. makes everything feel exaggerated

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anthony
  • 06-28-16

Entertaining and insightful

Well written showing a lot of depth whilst managing to keep casual and at times humorous

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-20-18

Brave

An Eye Opening account to what really happens in this dark and secretive world of operators etc.
Thoroughly Recommend it!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ander64
  • 04-11-18

A must listen.

insight into the dark world of the intelligence industry. Great operational detail and training explained by an experienced operator.

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  • Rowan
  • 05-14-16

Not worth it even if free.

This would of been very difficult to write as he would only be able to type with one hand as the other was very busy down his pants. Very hard to listen to as any chance of a story pales in comparison to this guy talking himself up so high i though it was written by Steven Segal.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Nick
  • 05-27-16

Disappointed

Got halfway through this book and thought this is a lot of information that you normally wouldn't expect someone who has done this type of work to be writing about, so I decided to google the author.
I would recommend anyone looking at reading this book to do the same before purchasing.
I think this book would be better to be marketed in the fantasy section.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-24-20

Interestingly drawn-out

Not a bad book, good insight into this line of work. The book is a bit long and can be slow at times. Good listen though, the narrating is great!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-05-20

The mans a dreamer!!!

Got the book thinking it would be interesting hearing from a real life operator, the story is great but very dissatisfied that he is a Walter Mitty and no one believes any of it. It’s spoiled a good book for me.

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  • C. Broughton
  • 02-07-19

An engaging and fascinating insight

This is the memoir of a major player in the defence and security contractor business (what once world have been termed mercenaries) over the past 20 years. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the shadowy and ambiguous world of contemporary geopolitical paramilitary operations and "gray work". This guy is ideologically an unreserved 'America first' type, but that comes with the terrain. Apart from that, the author's authorial voice strays from time to time from that of neutral narrator to letting his domestic political views come through strongly; but mostly this book provides a riveting first person account of on-the-ground operations as exciting as any novel or movie.

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  • barclay
  • 09-07-18

A greyt read

But seriously, good stuff. Great stories and great direction. Well written and informative but friendly

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • JOHN W
  • 10-01-17

Compelling Fiction at its Best

Gray Work is an incredible page turner and what can only be described as a great work of fiction at it best. I have no doubt that this started out as a "true story" but it loses itself along the way and becomes a tale of bravado, braggadocio, grandiosity and pretention. If you are looking for a true expose of spys and espionage this is not the book. However if you are looking for a page turning thriller, James Bond style, then this is the book for you.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris jones
  • 09-05-17

Politicking

Found the book very interesting but found it quite partisan and democrat and Obama bashing.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 05-18-17

A great insight into the world of intelligence

this book gives a a very credible insight into intelligence and private security. i had a 15 hr drive and this book kept hooked for most of the drive.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben
  • 04-26-17

Comic tale of a delusional con man

Would you listen to Gray Work again? Why?

Gray Work had me laughing in the first 15 minutes.

This guy writes like someone who has read a few Matthew Reilly/Frederick Forsyth novels and thought he would write his own. The sad truth is, Mr Smith is probably a compulsive liar and allegedly a convicted fraudster. This book is filled with so much obvious B.S. it is almost unreadable.

His descriptions of under cover "tradecraft" are laughable. Then there are silly acronyms galore; NBH (New Building Headquarters) and PIG (Person In disGuise), OK I made up that last one, but they are all on this level of absurdity.

All this can't distract you from the fact the story just doesn't make much sense. For example, he is meant to be a high level CIA "operative", then goes on to describe how he manned a photocopier for weeks on end.

But hey, what would I know? With positive reviews on Amazon by "Ms. Shopalot" (Mr Smith's wife?) and "Col. Richard C. Roten" (yep, that's his Amazon username!) you are assured of an authentic swashbuckling tale.