Sunday, July 16, 2006

Who watches the watchmen?

I am reading Blow the House Down by Robert Baer, best known for his influence on Syriana, but also the author of some excellent nonfiction. I read two rather different takes on the book. Powell's has a positive notice, while Michiko Kakutani in the NYT is none too keen. Kakutani dislikes the implausible elements of the book, and finds enough of them to give it a failing grade.

I am more sympathetic to the Powell's take which says, sure the book isn't the best thriller ever, but the insider look at the CIA and world politics is the fun of the book. For example, at one point the main character, a long standing CIA operations officer like Baer himself, says the CIA will use one of its tame journalists, who spread disinformation for the Agency. Now you know he is thinking of someone when he wrote that. On the other hand, maybe his entire book is disinformation meant to lead us away from the truth...

Anyway, if you like a noirish sort of take on spy fiction, then you are likely to dig this one. It is worth noting that the book explores an alternate theory of blame for 9/11. That could either turn you on or off I suppose.

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