screenshot135 Joby Warrick’s The Triple Agent is simply a must read for anyone with an interest in what we’ve been doing in Afghanistan and the search for Bin Laden.

From the book summary:

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 thirty-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.

Al Qaeda got one over on us. And it’s told in the page-turning The Triple Agent. I spoke with someone “in the know” on this, and this person is amazed at the amount of information Warrick was able to get and use in this story. Based on my conversations with this person, I feel like as we readers we get somewhat unprecedented insight into this incident. And if I recall correctly, the subject of this book is a scene in Zero Dark Thirty.

The account of the actions leading up to this disaster are told  in a matter of fact manner, and although you know what is coming, it’s still hard to turn the pages sometimes.  It’s tragic to think about how so many people involved in the operation had a bad feeling about the encounter, so reading this did pack an emotional punch.

I think everyone should read this book, but fans of non-fiction and those with an interest in the CIA and covert operations will certainly enjoy this one.