The Perfect Kill

21 Laws for Assassins
Narrated by: Keith Szarabajka
Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (375 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Kill the King, Don't Slap Him

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.

11 people found this helpful

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Really great!

Baer is full of anecdotes, history, and life experiences from his work at the CIA. Brilliant book!

2 people found this helpful

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Very enlightening read

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.

2 people found this helpful

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filled with very witty comments

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.

2 people found this helpful

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The Mind of a Sociopath...

This guy really is a killer, only a murderer wraps himself in the blanket of intellectual assassination.
Truly a peek into the mind of the guy who "comes at night." Scary....

1 person found this helpful

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great way to narrate

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!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A manual for the mind

I don't like Robert Baer. I can't dismiss this book however on the basis of that! I can see myself revisiting it.

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Misleading title but an interesting listen B+

about the author's obsession with this enigmatic and invisible terrorist mastermind who caused a lot of pain and suffering in the 1980's

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Great stories and uncovered understanding

But it was really cluttered and hard to follow at times however still a great listen.

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I found it interesting

I have found interesting all of Bob Baer’s books ! This kept my attention
And curiousness about the topic and times for the entire book.