Agents of Innocence: A Novel
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Now back in print: the "superlative spy novel" (New York Times) by the author of the red-hot forthcoming thriller A Firing Offense. A national bestseller in its hardcover edition, Agents of Innocence is the book that established David Ignatius's reputation as a master of the novel of contemporary espionage. Into the treacherous world of shifting alliances and arcane subterfuge comes idealistic CIA man Tom Rogers. Ordered to penetrate the PLO and recruit a high-level operative, he soon learns the heavy price of innocence in a time and place that has no use for it.

Customer Reviews:

  • An interesting and educational read
    I really enjoyed reading this book. Surprising in it's quality and reality without the "fireworks" that some authors go for in trying to sell their books....more info
  • Fascinating, thrilling and sad all at the same time
    Very well written - in depth and fascinating. Sad because it seems to be so close to the truth about the CIA and its various spy agencies really work. Highly recommended....more info
  • Thoughtfully written and currently relevant
    Although this is a work of fiction set more than 25 years ago it reads as if it could be describing events today. The author tries to present the espionage game as it probably really is rather than dressing it up to make for a more "exciting" story. The novel is much more John le Carre than Robert Ludlum but it does not suffer any lack of drama or excitement.

    For anyone who likes a good dramatic and suspenseful story and who would also like to gain some perspective on the Middle East this is a great choice....more info
  • End of Innocence!
    I stumbled on Mr. Ignatius last year and was sufficiently impressed with his writing to read all his novels in print. Since I'd been reading about the Middle East extensively for a couple of years, especially the history of American involvement in support of Israel, I found this novel particularly interesting. Mr. Ignatius' book may not be history, but it surely has the ring of truth in its depiction of how American interests in the region influenced its relationship with Arabs in Lebanon and elsewhere. There is little wonder in my mind that Americans are held in disrepute by so many in Arab countries. We've earned it by both our actions and our failure to act. We may like to depict ourselves as the honest broker, the defender of liberty, but it is only a naive person unfamiliar with history who can voice such an opinion with a straight face. This book is worth reading. His other books are entertaining as well....more info
  • An Amazing Read
    I thought this was a fantastic book and agree with others about the letter at the end. I think that letter speaks volumes about our current situation in Iraq. Was David Ignatius a CIA officer before becoming a great author?...more info
  • Great Writing...Little Action
    Okay, I've read all the reviews here that give this book a 5 star, and I just can't understand it. In the book's favor, the writing is very good and enjoyable. But, after about 200 pages I was still waiting for something to happen. It just drags on and on without much action.

    Finally, things come to a head, and the second half of the book is much better than the first half. I would recommend reading this book, but with the caveat to not expect a whole lot in the first half of the book....more info

  • Even today this is a novel that shows how we should do business abroad.
    Having spent time in the Middle East, I found this novel haunting with it's authenticity. I am sure Mr. Ignatius has taken some characters from real life and disguised them a bit. For anyone interested in how an intelligence officer operates in real life, Agents of Inocence is a must read.

    Kingmaker...more info
  • Central Theme Flawed
    Compelling spy novel, and very realistic, it puts you right there, but in the end the central theme is flawed. The Israelis/Americans are not the same as the terrorists of the world--there are definitely two sides out there, one with good guys and one with bad guys....more info
  • Great Informative Thriller
    Having read A Firing Offense - and liked it very much - I could hardly believe that Agents of Innocence was written by the same author. Not that it wasn't, but AOI is SO good, whereas AFO was just plain good. It'd been a long time since I'd read such a captivating novel of espionnage....more info
  • Has a very realistic feel to it
    As a fan of both spy novels and middle eastern politics, this book hits home in both departments. Ignatius has a good knowledge of the middle east - as evidenced by the details. For example, the main character uses typical Arabic idiomatic expressions which are indispensible for speaking Arabic. And he uses a lot of cultural references such as one of the most famous Arabic singers - Fairuz.
    It's also a great insight into how the US works in the middle east. "Why would they think we'd screw them over?" The American agent asks. "Because they're not stupid!" His overbearing (and hilarious) boss yells back at him.
    And a main point of the novel is a good lesson about middle eastern politics for Americans, Israelis, and Arabs especially - that the US will always take Israel's side in the end.
    Overall the novel is very readable and has a nice flow to it. It seems like something he thought up in his head first, (while working as a journalist in Lebanon) then put it all on paper in one smooth sitting....more info
  • agents of innocence
    First, I love to read David Ignatius. He has a great literary style and I love the subject matter. Even though this particular novel was about another era of middle east crisis, it was almost timely in that the same issues confront us today, probably even in Lebanon. Very readable, and thought provoking as is his most recent one which takes place in Jordan. I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes to read about the middle east, espionage, etc....more info
  • Hard to believe this was published in 1987
    Generally, I give my books of fiction away but this one is a keeper. I found myself underlining and making note of page numbers to refer to again on the title page. I was amazed by Mr. Ignatius's insights into the Middle Eastern Arab mind. (Simultaneously, I thought that anyone with any insight into human nature could understand what has happened to the world since 9-11.) Mr. Ignatius is obviously is quite knowledgeable of the Middle Eastern psychology and the relationship of 'cause and effect.' The 'spy story' is a fine one but whether it portrays the real world operations of various spy agencies I cannot say though they seem authentic. Definitely not James Bond or Jason Bourne. In my opinion this tale of fiction is wonderful in explaining what has remained unexplained since September 2001....more info
  • Accurate Depiction of CIA Operations
    I was first turned on to this novel by an actual CIA recruiter. He said that it was the most true to life representation of the lives of CIA operations officers. Ignatius' extensive research really rings through, and allows the reader to become immersed in a world of espionage, deceit, and betrayal. Highly recommended....more info
  • Compelling, Informative, More Relevant than Ever
    CIA operative Tom Roger's work in Lebanon (from the 1960s to the 1980s) is this book's basis. It is no wonder that this is reputed to be required reading at "The Farm" due to the author's understanding of Lebanese politics, his apparent understanding of a case officer's acitivities, and the continuing grim relevance of terrorism.

    It will help you understand why the CIA and Mossad can be such antagonists at times.

    Two downsides to the book: some of the substance is offset by gratuitous sexual content, which in parts makes it seem more like a trashy summer romance novel than a potential intel classic. Also, there could have been some more character development, especially with some of the major players....more info
  • Masterful
    Amazing read. I just finished reading this book, and I am very much planning to read more of David's novels (as this was the first one I've read).
    From beginning to end nothing can be assumed in this book. It gave a very realistic feel to the spy game and to middle east politics. Though it takes places years ago the story could have taken place today. It's sad to see how little has changed in this area of the world.
    Agents of Innocence gives the reader a inside look at the geopolitics of the middle east and how the CIA, Mossad, Fatah and other groups operate and interoperate. Very good morale tale, and ending. I just loved it. Thanks David for a great book and some very fine writing and for my friends who gave it to me as a christmas present.
    How well you know I'd love this book....more info
  • A thrilling read from start to finish
    This book was written in such an outstanding way that I was unable to put it down for hours at a time. I enjoyed the way the author divided the chapters by putting it into a timeline format and this kept the book flowing to the most climactic point. It also provided excellent insights into the cultural, spiritual, and everyday way of life in the Middle East. I learned so much from the authors knowledge of the region and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good suspense/thriller involving the intelligence of the US government....more info
  • Ignatius' Agents
    Ignatius brings his experience as a journalist in both the Middle East and Washington and spins a revealing tale around the facts as Beirut was transformed from the 'Paris of the Middle East' to a battlefield of madness. ...more info
  • 1987 or 2007?
    Read the review of author's newest book in WSJ and bought a used paperback of "Agents of Innocence" last week. LeCarre's works top my lists, and former CIA Director Woolsey's quote in the review about his two favorite spy novels being "Spy Who Came in From the Cold" and "Agents of Innocence" was enough for me to track it down.

    It is a fantastic read with a blending of history, fact and fiction. The author's knowledge of the Middle East, the players, and their ancient battles for this ancient land was very similar to LeCarre's grasp of the Cold War.

    What struck me over the head was the powerful letter from the agent to a former case officer at the end -- although the book was written 20 years ago, it could have been written yesterday! ...more info
  • Topical Fiction
    In another time, David Ignatius's Agents of Innocence would be great escapist literature. In today's world, however, it is a gripping-and all-too haunting-tale of extreme relevance.


    The tale is set primarily in the labyrinthine world of Lebanon in the 1970's and 1980's, and follows the career of the fictional CIA case officer, Tom Rogers. When Rogers arrives in Beirut, it is September 1969, the eve of the tragic implosion of cosmopolitan Lebanon. By the conclusion of the story, terrorists have brought the nation to its knees. Throughout it all, Rogers desperately tries to keep from being overcome by events as he develops "assets"-and relationships-in an attempt to keep tabs on the growing threat of militant radicalism. If you know your history, then I don't have to tell you that this is a tragic tale.

    The author draws heavily from his experience covering the growth of terrorism in Lebanon for the Washington Post. To an extent, the book is a fictionalization of life of real-world CIA man, Robert Ames. Purportedly, this novel is on the reading list at "The Farm" (the CIA's training ground at Camp Peary near Williamsburg, VA), and CIA Director George Tenet himself recommended this book in an interview on NPR several years ago. On top of that, it also does an admirable job of making sense (as far as possible) of the wild and varied religious, cultural and political forces operating in the region today.

    That being said, this is fiction, not journalism; while the history it covers is essentially true, it would be a good idea to do some non-fiction reading as well if you want to more fully understand the Middle East picture. Still, the glimpse it gives of life in the field is fascinating, and as entertainment it is an excellent read. The prose is straightforward, the plot is gripping, and the characters are believable and engaging.

    In summary, I give this book four out of five stars. It is not wonderful literature, nor is it deeply researched history, but it doesn't attempt to be. It is immensely entertaining and at the same time lightly informative. So far, it is the only novel on my Warblogger's Bookshelf. James Bond fans should look elsewhere, mind you, but if you love Le Carre, you'll love this....more info

  • Excellent book.
    Great characters, great plot, solid from start to finish. The only David Ignatius book I have read. I will definitely read another....more info