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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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  • Overall

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Gripping & Engaging

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, Provides a lot of insight to the workings of the CIA that I've not read before.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Triple Agent?

Can't say....It would be a spoiler. Even though you know the general story and what ultimately happens

Have you listened to any of Sunil Malhotra’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Narration is excellent but a little fast in a few places. There is a lot of detail provided and a lot to take in.

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

Yes, finished this book in 2 sittings

Any additional comments?

Looking forward to his next book "Black Flag", which comes out later this month

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Outstanding writing and narration. Insightful.

Surprisingly entertaining with strong research. Outstanding narration of this tragic time.
Warrick is accomplished storyteller.
Weaves the complex into understanding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Real "Page Turner"

I could hardly put it down. No problem with the unfamiliar names - look up one or two online if you need to. Reads like a top thriller novel, except for the tragic end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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VERY GOOD

This is an excellent book; it has incredible detail about the real world of espionage.

It was educational but also disconcerting.

I was pleased that I took the time to listen to it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan
  • 10-23-15

Far too much editorialising not nearly enough info

Any additional comments?

Far too much dramatic licence for a book about real, recent events. We are privy to conversations at which no-one was present for example. Real time emotions of the suicide bomber and other terrorists are freely given. Extra little bits of description are thrown in whenever the author feels the need give the story a helping hand. Doesn't really shed any light on the processes that lead Balawi to become a suicide bomber, or the colossal mis calculation that lead the CIA to let him have such intimate access to a military base.