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The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames By Kai Bird,

  • Title: The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames
  • Author: Kai Bird
  • ISBN: 9780307889751
  • Page: 467
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Good Spy is Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Kai Bird s compelling portrait of the remarkable life and death of one of the most important operatives in CIA history a man who, had he lived, might have helped heal the rift between Arabs and the West On April 18, 1983, a bomb exploded outside the American Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people The attack was a geopoliThe Good Spy is Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Kai Bird s compelling portrait of the remarkable life and death of one of the most important operatives in CIA history a man who, had he lived, might have helped heal the rift between Arabs and the West On April 18, 1983, a bomb exploded outside the American Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people The attack was a geopolitical turning point It marked the beginning of Hezbollah as a political force, but even important, it eliminated America s most influential and effective intelligence officer in the Middle East CIA operative Robert Ames What set Ames apart from his peers was his extraordinary ability to form deep, meaningful connections with key Arab intelligence figures Some operatives relied on threats and subterfuge, but Ames worked by building friendships and emphasizing shared values never notably than with Yasir Arafat s charismatic intelligence chief and heir apparent Ali Hassan Salameh aka The Red Prince Ames deepening relationship with Salameh held the potential for a lasting peace Within a few years, though, both men were killed by assassins, and America s relations with the Arab world began heading down a path that culminated in 9 11, the War on Terror, and the current fog of mistrust Bird, who as a child lived in the Beirut Embassy and knew Ames as a neighbor when he was twelve years old, spent years researching The Good Spy Not only does the book draw on hours of interviews with Ames widow, and quotes from hundreds of Ames private letters, it s woven from interviews with scores of current and former American, Israeli, and Palestinian intelligence officers as well as other players in the Middle East Great Game What emerges is a masterpiece level narrative of the making of a CIA officer, a uniquely insightful history of twentieth century conflict in the Middle East, and an absorbing hour by hour account of the Beirut Embassy bombing Even impressive, Bird draws on his reporter s skills to deliver a full dossier on the bombers and expose the shocking truth of where the attack s mastermind resides today.
    The Good Spy The Life and Death of Robert Ames The Good Spy is Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Kai Bird s compelling portrait of the remarkable life and death of one of the most important operatives in CIA history a man who had he lived might

    One thought on “The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames”

    1. People expect a revolutionary to be a miserable looking, shabby creature dressed in rags That s the wrong notion.As the Arabic saying goes Better a reputation of opulence than a reputation of misery Ali Hassan SalamehFrom the moment that Robert Ames set foot in the Middle East he fell in love with it He loved the language He loved the culture He loved the people The reason he was in the Middle East was because the United States wanted to learn about the region and also become a player in the ev [...]

    2. Kai Bird believed Robert Ames exemplified the best of American values sober, diligent, thoughtful, and fair Ames was an enthusiastic family man, and despite being occasionally short of funds, he wanted a big family When stationed in Washington, he often kept regular work hours, leaving at the same time every morning and arriving home in time to listen to music and read a bit before dinner with the family When someone keeps a regular schedule, it is difficult to imagine what goes on in the hours [...]

    3. An overly dry telling of a true tale that could have been engaging.This was the audio version OVERALL GRADE D plus.

    4. Since I m into history and the publisher mailed me this book a while back, I ve just finished Pulitzer prize winner Kai Bird s The Good Spy The Life and Death of Robert Ames I d never heard of Robert Ames before, but now I ll never forget him I ve made a very lengthy post at the nonfiction page of my online reading journal, so if you want the long of it, click through Otherwise, you re just getting my impression of the book here Ames life and work as a CIA agent and then Intelligence Officer in [...]

    5. DISCONNECTEDRobert Ames was a CIA analyst operative, an Arabist , specializing in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War In 1983 he was tragically killed along with 62 others when a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into the American Embassy in Beirut This is his biography which is at times fascinating and prophetic, but is also sketchy, muddled and at least to this reader ultimately frustrating raising questions than it answers particularly about its subject let al [...]

    6. As I write, rockets continue to be launched from the Gaza Strip by the militant group, Hamas, and Israel continues to retaliate with massive bombing and ground forces As this tragedy continues to unfold, Kai Bird s latest work that deals with the Arab Israeli conflict, THE GOOD SPY THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ROBERT AMES is extremely timely When one thinks of the CIA operatives who have impacted the Middle East, the names of Miles Copeland, Kermit Roosevelt, and William Eveland come to mind, but usual [...]

    7. I received this book from the publisher at no charge, and with the understanding that any reviews would be my own opinion The Good Spy The Life and Death of Robert Ames is an in depth view into CIA operative Robert Ames and the Middle East Israeli Western World conflicts and politics The author, Kai Bird, knew Bob Ames as an adolescent when both families were stationed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia As an adult, Bird meticulously researched the personal history of Ames from his youth, through his ever [...]

    8. Labeled a biography of Robert Ames, this is really a deep dive into politics of the Middle East in the 1970 s and 1980 s The shadow tactics between Mossad and the PLO are fascinating Bird s narrative does not cast a glowing light on the Israelis The chapter detailing the 1983 US embassy bombing in Beirut was nothing short of horrific in its detail We learn about several fascinating characters, particularly Ames Lebanese contacts Zein and Salameh The passages regarding Ames career were actually t [...]

    9. This is an excellent biography of Robert Ames, who worked for the CIA in the Middle East and Near East and at headquarters in Langley, Virginia, through a 20 years career, and was killed in the bombing of the U.S Embassy in Beirut in 1983, in which 63 people died The author does a great job of documenting Ames s life he was a superior on the ground intelligence officer who spoke fluent Arabic and loved the people and cultures where he worked He would get to know everyone he could, not just as po [...]

    10. This book was a bit of a disappointment I felt like I was plodding through it, picking up the occasional nugget along the way Much of the book details Bob Ames relationship with the Red Prince, Ali Hasan Salameh, who was head of Fatah Force 17 According to the book, he was wrongly implicated in the Black September Munich operation However, the book implies and it s not difficult to believe this that Israel targeted Salemeh simply because of his relationship with Bob Ames, which gave the PLO a ba [...]

    11. I wanted to read this book solely for its chapter on the 1983 Beirut embassy bombing I ve read several accounts of the Marine barracks bombing that same year, but nothing in much depth of the embassy tragedy I have to admit I turned to this chapter first and then went back for the backstory.As always, I am amazed when a journalist can put his or her hands on so much material that a story like this one can be told almost minute by minute I m not sure any of us truly understands the copious amount [...]

    12. Bird s biography of CIA master spy Robert Ames initially reads like a set of dossiers on people in his personal and professional life where they went to school, how they met Ames, the nature of their interactions As Ames experiences in the Middle East grow, a network of clandestine relationships emerges with fractured and violent Middle East politics as the backdrop We know the end at the beginning of the book, of course Ames death in the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut is a matter of public [...]

    13. This was a phenomenal read Really will forever make me feel different about a number of things This is basically a biography of a CIA officer, Bob Ames, who died tragically in a bombing in Beirut in the early 1980s He is the good spy What made him good, according to Bird, was his quest for knowledge, his ability to listen, his even handedness, and his ability to empathize with many different people Perhaps for people who have read a lot about the Middle East and intelligence, none of this will b [...]

    14. This is a difficult book to review On one hand, the author tells us about the life of Robert Ames, an American patriot in the truest sense of the word On the other, we learn the details of his death in April 1983 when the U S embassy in Beirut, Lebanon was bombed by a truck containing 2000 pounds of explosives Inducted into the army in 1956, Ames did a two year hitch and left without looking back At the end of his service he became interested in the world of intelligence and studied Arabic In 19 [...]

    15. The Good Spy is a fascinating look at just how hard it actually is, to be a good spy The most fascinating aspect of it may have been the hard stance the author took on Israel We are so used to the United States always backing Israel and considering the Arabs to be nothing but bloodthirsty terrorist But Bob Ames was able to form strong relationships, even friendships, with high ranking members of the PLO Ames was convinced that the PLO wanted to reach some kind of peace accord with Israel But Isr [...]

    16. Robert Ames not to be confused with Aldrich Ames, a later CIA double agent worked for the CIA from the 1960s through 1983, when he was killed in the Beirut U.S Embassy bombing THE GOOD SPY chronicles his life working in the Middle East during the Cold War, when many of his colleagues were focused on the Soviet Union It s interesting not just because it chronicles how Ames was instrumental to the peace process between Israel and Palestine it also works as a good primer to learning how the events [...]

    17. I m loath to add another unread comment to this thread, but I thought it might be useful to observe that, among those who had lived the Secret Life as a friend of mine likes to label it , Kai Bird s book on Bob Ames is a particular favorite Personally, I go as far as former Agency officer and author and one of Bird s many sources from the US national security community Bob Baer and call The Good Spy simply the best book on espionage I ve ever read For what it s worth, I ve read considerably tha [...]

    18. THE GOOD SPY is a book with a dual character which tells a history of U.S diplomatic and espionage activities in the Middle East during the Cold War First, it is a story about a most remarkable CIA officer, Robert Ames, who devoted the whole of his 23 year career in the Middle East to helping develop and secure peace in that troubled region through engaging with the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO at a time when the U.S disavowed any contacts with it And it is also a story of the evolution [...]

    19. loved the personal story of Bob Ames charming, intellectual, family man, working class background, interested in the world the very best of Americafound the history less engaging I know so little about it, this perspective was helpful, but felt limited

    20. Robert Ames I had never heard of him before reading this pre release copy of his biography by Kai Bird Now I feel like I m a member of his family Of course, the purpose of a biography is not just to document a life A biography should also lead the reader to epiphanies of lessons learned.Bird leaves you with a feeling that Ames is larger than life Not because of what he did but because of who he was and how he was able to help those around him discover in themselves qualities and abilities that p [...]

    21. Blessed are the peacemakers Robert Ames didn t fit the image of a spy He was a family guy with six kids and was faithful to his wife, but nonetheless, he was probably the most influential operative the CIA ever had in the Middle East He was fluent in Arabic and grew to love the people and customs of the area He didn t recruit many agents, but the friends he made were some of the most important people in the region even if they were terrorists.One of those friends was Ali Hassan Salameh, a Palest [...]

    22. Excellent book The Good Spy explains the roots of our current terrorism crisis at least to its 1970 s roots, with some nod to previous eras.It examines well the ambiguities of dealing with evil powers in the world We never want to grant them legitimacy and yet if they obtain it by consent or by force we cannot help but have to reckon with them It is also interesting to see how quickly Ames goes from being a boots on the ground guy to being seen as a naive HQ guy by those in the field Yet he reco [...]

    23. This is an excellent book on several levels and I give it my highest recommendation which for all practical purposes is entirely meaningless.Kai Bird sets out to tell the thorny and complicated story of Middle East relations during the 1970s and 1980s through the life of former CIA operative Robert Ames Not to be confused with infamous CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames The book is very Ames centric early on We learn that Ames and his wife were neighbors with the author s family in Saudi Arabia in the 19 [...]

    24. Many of the events described in this book were familiar to me as sound bites that went in one ear and out the other back in the 70s Because of the author s interviews and use of declassified documents, the reasons for all the strife seem a lot clear in retrospect than they did then However, the same small group of people were responsible for events as disparate the Munich Olympics and the TWA Hijacking.Ames was one of the rare CIA operatives with 20 years experience in the field, who appreciate [...]

    25. The Good Spy is a detailed account of the Middle Eastern turmoil in the Cold War era and into the 1980 s The book focuses less on CIA operations that you might expect, and reads a lot like a history of the big hitters in the Middle East in this time frame For me, the first few chapters that detailed Robert Ames career progression to the CIA as an operative were the most informative Ames is a bit of an enigma, as you d expect from one who has lived most of his life as a covert operative There s v [...]

    26. I could barely finish it, it was so boring, which is a shame because the subject matter is so interesting and important The author uses a plodding yet also unorganized style that alternatively goes into way too much detail and then not enough I found myself having to re read entire paragraphs multiple times and still not understanding what was happening The author annoyingly uses different names for the same characters i.e within the same paragraph refers to the same character by first, last, mi [...]

    27. Robert Ames worked for the CIA in the Middle East from the late sixties to the early eighties, when he died in the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut His story is one filled with clandestine meetings and ties with PLO officials Ames was empathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people and educated himself with the Arab culture and history He was very knowledgable of the various intricacies that define politics in the Middle East even today Ames was also a man that had character and remained d [...]

    28. Great history of Middle East history since 1948 Bio of bob Ames, cia agent who opened back door to plo as step toward peaceful something or other He spoke Arabic He read and knew the region s history and had personal relationships with many Not a fan of paid assets for cia instead he cultivated friendships I was grateful for the history and saddened by the stumbles and wrong thinking on all sides and at all levels I urge you to read or listen The historical research using a multitude of resource [...]

    29. Robert Ames, an undercover CIA agent was captivated by the Arab culture His proficiency with the Arabic language allowed him to mingle with people in middle eastern countries and to report on undercurrents that were developing His job was to cultivate contacts, but he didn t seem to have the cold blooded instincts of a true spy He befriended people rather than formally recruiting them as assets A significant career acheivement was the relationship he developed with an associate of Yasir Arafat w [...]

    30. There s a lot of history here of U.S intelligence efforts in the middle east and it should be an interesting read, but I found it impossible to get through The author employs a dry, chronological he did this, then he did that sort of style that keeps him from developing any sort of propulsive narrative The subject of the book is a deeply uninteresting CIA operative, company man, abstemious, devout, not to say fanatical Catholic convert, devoted when he s occasionally around father to the requisi [...]

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