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Body of Lies, A Novel
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"No outsider knows the world of CIA operations in the Middle east as well as David Ignatius, and Body of Lies, from its opening pages, piches us into the murk, mystery, and ultimately, disappointment of our operations there. It's simply a great read."--Seymour Hersh

Customer Reviews:

  • I Should Have Been Suspicious When 'Body Of Lies' Got A Rave from George Tenet
    Yeah, that should have been the tip-off. Add Chris Matthews and Bob Woodward to the chorus, and you have an Establishment endorsed spy novel. To compare a formulaic plot, stilted writing, (only adorned by Ignatius's reporter's knowledge of the region), to a real writer like Graham Greene is chutzpah of the first degree. Lastly, for the paperback addition, the editor might want to examine page 61 and make one slight change where the 'expert' Ignatius informs the reader that the first bombing of the World Trade Center occurred in 1991. Uh, actually, it was 1993. But as we know, 'facts' were never a problem for Tenet et al before. If spy fiction that is informed by the human heart (and not just tradecraft), is your thing, stick to real professionals. Graham Greene would be a good start....more info
  • Skip the movie, read the book
    Far from being his best work, Body of Lies is still a good read. Ignatius really should be regarded more prominently than others in the political-espionage genre. His remarkable knowledge alone surpasses that of most other spy writers. His ability to make his characters so palpably human sets him apart. These are hardly every-man characters, but Ignatius finds ways to make them identifiable for any reader.

    I was sorry to see Frank Hoffman replaced by a relative, Ed Hoffman, for this novel. The Frank Hoffman character in other works (The Bank of Fear, Siro) was far more dynamic. Still, I find it more readable than anything by Ludlum.

    The 3 stars compare only to his other works - not those of other writers in this genre....more info
  • David Ignatius
    Another great book by this author.
    Received on a timely basis and in perfect condition....more info
  • Body of Lies
    Riveting! Smoothly flowing narrative, finely delineated characters. Could hardly put it down but didn't want it to end. Definitely a re-read....more info
  • Body Of Drivel
    Body Of Lies is trash. The juvenile leftist writing is straight cliche.
    CIA,America,Republicans bad. Arabs,activist good. The hero turns out to
    really be of Arab ancestry so he can be redeemed. His wife is nasty low
    Republican he no longer can stand. His girlfriend is very pro Arab
    social worker who teaches him to love for first time. His Arab counterpart
    is very smart and doesn't torture to get information. His fat CIA boss is
    duplicitous uncaring and southern(red state). The terrorist claims to only torture because Americans do, breaking the code for the rules of war(I'm not kidding). Arab and now redeemed hero saves the day, while allowing the sorry Americans to take the credit.Fairy tale concluded. ...more info
  • Screenplay, not a novel. So wait for the movie
    This is a very bad book, for reasons covered by many of the other negative reviews. However, it was about Chapter 10 that the underlying reason struck me. This wasn't written to be a book, but rather is a precursor to a screenplay for a big budget Hollywood action movie [...] Things that make no sense for a book make perfect sense when viewed as part of a screenplay.

    The author is horrible on the "love story" components - it ranges from plodding to painful. Yet the love story is such a large portion of the book that it squeezes out the spy story.

    And the spy story seems to be warped to favor visuals and dialog over thinking.

    The author does not live up to his reputation as a writer of spy stories (from recommendations - this is the first of his books I read). The implausibilities and nonsense are glaring and far too numerous. The love story destroys the pacing of the spy story. The ending is badly forced (both in pacing and content) - it feels like the author was approaching a deadline and decided he had to wrap it up very quickly.

    And especially annoying, the author cheats. When you tell a story from the perspective of one of the characters, you can't suddenly start excluding the reader from that character's conversations as a (lazy) way to create suspense. You can't have characters who are experts at keeping secrets (1) randomly reveal that they have a secret and then (2) reveal it to the main character just because he essentially pleads "Aw come on, tell me" a couple of times. This is a lazy - if not contemptuous (of the reader) - way to reveal information, although the demands of a screenplay may dictate such shortcuts. And you can't have a CIA case officer who is repeatedly incurious about significant events.

    Because of the author's reputation, the promise of the opening chapters and the intriguing idea (hence two stars rather than one), I got sucked into reading to the end. But I came away feeling not just let down, but cheated and abused by the author.

    The book dishonors its two main inspirations (cited by the author in an interview): the WW2 British operation described in the book "The Man Who Never Was: ..." and the Jordanian intelligence operation that caused the Abu Nidal terrorist organization to self-destruct.

    Examples that avoid spoilers:
    1. The body is presented to the terrorists in a shoot-out in hostile territory in which he - the most important person present - is riding in the only unarmored car in the convoy. Plausible?
    2. The "pocket litter" (inherited from "The Man Who Never Was") is poorly thought out. First, many espionage books (fiction and non-fiction) talk about case officers emptying their pockets and doing a complete document shift (Aside: pocket litter was already a known problem in WW2 - movies show aircraft crews were reminded of this). Second: One of the items included on the body was a receipt for a gas purchase. Think: You are a CIA case officer buying gas on the way to the airport to fly to Pakistan. Supposing you even bother to ask the gas pump for a receipt, do you put the receipt in your pocket or in the car's glove box (to deal with when you return)? Everyone I asked picked the later. (Note: pocket litter was important in TMWNW because he was traveling between rear areas and wouldn't have taken the precautions of someone going into combat.)
    3. The case officer visits the site of a staged car bombing during preparations. Why? It unnecessarily simplifies any surveillance of him from making the connection. Furthermore, they evacuate people from the target several _days_ before the attack, greatly increasing the chance of the operation being "blown." Why? The only reason I could figure that that it greatly simplified exposition in the planned movie.
    4. The problems with the condition of the body are acknowledged and then ignored. In "The Man Who Never Was", they plan for him to be exposed to the (harsh) elements (both actual and assumed by the discoverers) to obscure evidence it has been in storage. In this book, the body will be seen by the enemy within minutes of his supposed death. It is not credible that they would not notice the difference (blood oozing instead of spurting).
    5. The "poison" that the CIA plans to inject into the terrorist organization doesn't seem to fit the bill - it seems to be more of a mild diuretic....more info
  • Another Man Who Never Was
    This thriller starts out with some edge-of-your-seat scenes in Iraq. It's a gut-wrenching reminder of the risks that intelligence agents and their assets face in Iraq and in the war on terror. Regardless where you stand on the policies that got us there, these are hard-hitting scenes served up with convincing verisimilitude. As the story plays out though, it's more of a self-conscious rehash of spy fact and fiction that's come before. The ruse set in place is inspired by The Man Who Never Was and some of the dynamics of the novel's relationships may remind you of warmed-over Spy Game. Given how tough the novel's environment is, the climax is a little too gauzy for me. This isn't a great novel, however, the book is very solidly written in terms of its timeliness and detail....more info
  • Smashing story
    I read a lot in the so-called spy/thriller/crime genre. It is not often at all that I discover a new voice that leaps near the top of my absolutely favorite writers. But David Ignatius really delivers---at every level; story line, realism, writing style, character development. This is without question the BEST spy story I have ever read and the only one in the ever increasing proliferation of "jihad" novels that gave me a real sense of understanding the awful complexities we all live with....more info
  • Huge disappointment
    For the last decade or so, I had mostly read non-fiction so when I heard about this book, I became anxious to get lost in a good story again. When it finally became available at the library, I went and picked it up and started it right there in the lobby.

    I couldn't make it past the first chapter.

    The story line was fascinating but the language was terrible. "F" this and "F" that, churlish references to body parts; it just went on and on. What has happened to fiction while I was gone? Is this work truly representative of what is now considered good literature?

    I, for one, refuse to assume the herd mentality that vulgarity and profanity is necessary to accurately portray reality. What a terrible waste of ink and paper. Like smothering a fine steak with ketchup, using eight-grade, locker-room language only degrades and cheapens a fine piece of work that had the potential to stand on its own merits. ...more info
  • Engaging yet disturbing
    This book started with an intriguing prologue and then was rather slow for the first half of the book. It picked up and I enjoyed the rest of the book. A book about America's relations with Jordan and other Middle East nations - CIA, espionage, reminiscent of Ludlum. I found the book engaging yet disturbing. I thought there were inconsistencies with the main character and it took a leap of faith to be believable. I kept thinking this would probably make a good movie and just learned it was made into one last year with Leonardo DeCaprio and Russell Crowe (must not have been a huge hit). Anyway, I think this might appeal more to guys looking for a decent spy novel... for me it was just okay....more info
  • Good but not great
    An entertaining but flawed book. I will not dwell on the awkward, at times unbearable, romantic subplot ("You're strong, but I think you're soft, too, in this place.' She patted his heart.") Several of Mr. Ignatius' underlying points concerning the war on terror ring true: the bureaucratic and sedentary nature of our national defense agencies; the relatively superior performance of their Arab counterparts; the ineffectiveness of physical torture; the clash between American impatience and foreign deliberateness.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Ignatius also does himself and his readers a disservice by embracing other common fictions that distort the war effort. The plot revolves around joint efforts to thwart a single jihadi mastermind responsible for a worldwide terror campaign ("Suleiman. This was the name of terror.") Time and time again the U.S. government has learned the fallacy of transposing a command-and-control hierarchy onto cellular and largely autonomous terrorist cells. Perhaps more troubling, Mr. Ignatius repeatedly reduces the underlying drivers of terrorism to 'they hate us' (pg. 61: "The more he talked to sheikhs, the more obvious it become: These people hate us;" pg. 84: "This was a world seething with hatred;" etc.) This is a gross simplification, and Mr. Ignatius should know better.

    The praise given to this book, including the frequent and not unflattering comparisons to Le Carre and Greene, invite deeper questions over its literary merit. In both Le Carre and Greene's work global events (colonialism, the Cold War, etc.) form the backdrop but never the driver for the narrative; the thoughts and actions of the characters, grounded in the everyday, made them human and thus believable. In contrast, Mr. Ignatius, like most contemporary authors, writes from the top-down, giving us poorly-realized caricatures clumsily wedded to global events. He paints in broad strokes, using jargon and declarative sentences to reduce complex problems to paragraph form (ex: "These were a people who believed their PowerPoint presentations;" "A whole secret life that was wired into a different set of circuits from those of McWorld.") Scene-setting becomes an exercise in name-dropping; one minute our protagonist is in Turkey, the next Jordan, the next in Iraq, but all are rendered in the same two-dimensional prose. To paraphrase Freidman, the earth is flat, and so is everyone in it.

    Despite these criticisms, "Body of Lies" is an entertaining book and easily as worthwhile as most contemporary thrillers. I am giving it three stars not because I so disliked it, but because I believe Mr. Ignatius is capable of much more. ...more info
  • Splendid Espionage Adventure
    As always, David Ignatius conveys a sense of initimate knowledge of the spycraft and provides another well written, contemporary tale of espionage in the middle east. Well worth the time to read,....more info
  • Well-done
    I thought that Body of Lies was a good book, even though parts of the book were written poorly. As the story progresses, I felt the novel got more interesting, and it was harder to put the book down. The overall story was constructed well, but I was hoping that Hoffman would have a greater role in the book. Overall, I think that fans of action novels will be pleased with Body of Lies. ...more info
  • Personal, Policy and Politics= Great Read
    THS NOVEL IS as real as today and tomorrow in the world of terror, tactics, successes and failures. It's a satisfying love story, with human values, and technical information. Held my interest from the get-go. Well recommended....more info
  • Bodies of Lies
    Received product in excellent condition. The author David Ignatius is one of my favorites. This book did not disappoint. Just ordered another book by David Ignatius from Amazon....more info
  • literary review
    An ecellently written book giving you a real insight in the workings of the secret spying organisations with many twists and turns throughout the novel...more info
  • What Else Do We Not KNow?
    If the intelligence used in this book is a fraction of the truth, its very scary to imagine what we really do....more info
  • Very good book!
    This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys intrigue and thrillers. The plot is hidden until the very end - - this book deals with the CIA and the military, extremely well done!...more info
  • Well written with flesh and blood, fascinating plot
    david ignatius is one of the greatest novelists by my own standard. he plotted his novels so well with believable characters and storyline that i often found too difficult to separate them from reality or imagination. as a seasoned reporter specialized in the middle east affairs, his stuff simply read like first-handed information albeit interesting enough to read with emotion and passion. people often compared him with john le carre, but i could never agree with such comparison. i've tried to read the british guy's novels so many times but could only had finished couple of them, most of them were simply boring and blabbering. but not david ignatius' novels which i always finished with thirsty emotions. this novel was adapted poorly into a totally different action thriller, a kind of stupid manipulation to put too much weight on ed hoffman's part....more info
  • Mediocre Espionage Procedural
    The classic police procedural mystery presents the protagonist and the reader with a problem - the crime - and invites the reader to follow the protagonist through to the solution. This book is espionage equivalent of the a police procedural. The problem is the identification and capture of an important terrorist and we follow the hero through a tortuous plan to achieve this end. The success of procedurals rests on the writer's ability to create a detailed, realistic plot, interesting characters, and usually to introduce a creditable but surprising plot twist somewhere towards the end of the book. Ignatius doesn't do well by these standards. As other reviewers point out, this book reads more like the scenario for a screenplay (which it became) than a well developed novel. This is essentially a movie tie-in book written before the film was made. The plotting here is mechanical and actually somewhat predictable, the characterization is thin, and the quality of prose is cartoonish.

    Ignatius attempted unsuccessfully to improve the quality of this book with some transparent but poorly executed literary devices. His hero is partly an allegorical figure of recent American experience in the Middle East - earnest, patriotic, ultimately clueless, and prone to producing violent side effects. But the character of the hero is largely uninteresting, so this effort falls flat. There is also an unintentionally funny and amateurish piece of allegory in the subplot of the hero's love life. In the course of the book, the hero leaves his dark-haired, sexually aggressive, conservative lawyer wife, who manipulates him shamelessly and writes memos defending torture for the Bush administration. The love interest replacement also beautiful, but is blond, sexually receptive but not aggressive, and a selfless NGO worker trying to help Palestinian refugees. Just transparently silly. ...more info
  • It's Been A Long Time
    It's been a long time since a spy thriller novel such as this one has come on the scene. It harkens back to Follette's and LeCarre's early works. It is a spy thriller set in our current time, age and psyche. All the characters and scenarios are hauntingly possible or perhaps, probable. Like Follette and LeCarre, the author weaves a web of intrigue using multiple spiders, yet never loses the reader.

    Mr. Ignatius grabs the reader at the outset as a corpse is dressed and given an intricately real personality. From the morgue, it hops right into the CIA's workings as the protagonists attempt to break up a ring of car bombers operating in Europe and based in the middle east.

    The CIA operative is no Bond. He is realistic and subject to human doubts, sympathies and foibles. Not only does he love, but he divorces (the divorce led to a sidebar story that really wasn't necessary - a very minor criticism). His superior is as cold, calculating and hard-hearted as any puppeteer in this genre has ever been.

    The plot is spell-binding. The operative, Ferris, eventually wants to incorporate a method used by British in WWII, which is where the corpse comes into the story. As in all the best of these thrillers, nothing is as it seems - or is it? The reader watches as all the details are worked out down to the finest points, only to find that all sides have spies and all are adroit at the game. "All sides" is used with purpose. As in real life again, it is not just the USA and its allies against one set of bad guys.

    This book is highly recommended. It is a thoroughly entertaining read while being thought-provoking on an international and personal levels while still being a puzzle to be solved at every step.
    ...more info
  • Fun read....
    I like spy stories. I liked this one. Sophisticated, realistic, knowledgeable. Great read. Like peanuts, hard to stop once you start....more info