©1992 by Ronald Kessler; (P)1998 by Blackstone Audiobooks
"This tour is never dull, especially since it features so much .007 gadgetry, from water-spraying silent drills to eavesdropping devices that work by zapping laser beams through windows." (Los Angeles Times)
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"Pre- 9/11 look at CIA's strengths and weaknesses"
Sometimes fascinating, sometimes boring, and ultimately somewhat tragic, Kessler's review of the CIA provides some valuable context for readers of the 9/11 Commission report. Written before 1999, this book has little to say about terrorism, and even less to say about the direction of the CIA under Woolsey in the Clinton years. Kessler devotes a large amount of time to subjects like Iran-Contra, Aldrich Ames, the contrasting styles of Casey and Webster, and the basic structure of the CIA. The reader will get a good feel for the CIA's culture, as well as a more realistic (that is, less fictionalized and romantic) view of what the CIA does and how it operates.
The narrator is, frankly, not very dynamic. Kessler also repeats some details relentlessly; the controversy over the sale of CIA-themed coffee cups and the re-defection of Vitaly Yurchenko are two particularly annoying examples. The combination of a dull, lifeless narration with frequent repetition of details occasionally makes the book a bit boring. Nevertheless, if you are interested in the CIA's history up to about 1994 this is a must-have book.
"Good But Not Thrilling"
This audiobook features good information on the history, organization and politics of the CIA. However, it would have been more interesting if the author had written more about covert activities.
While there was a lot of good material in this book, I'm not sure I'd recommend it:
1. The reader for this book was poor, and had difficulty pronouncing words
2. Kessler's writing is pretty repetitive. Seriously, I counted six times that we're reminded of the fact that we don't spy on Great Britain or Australia, and several other facts are repeated to a ridiculous degree.
3. Kessler also has a tendency to wander off on off-topic tangents, such as almost 10 minutes discussing the shortcomings of late Soviet era hotels, which really doesn't have anything to do with the CIA
"Half and half..."
I give four stars to the book and one to the reader. This is why there are professionals who read books. The author has a lisp that made me wince every time he would get to CIA (or thee eye a). Someone really should have talked him into getting Scott Brick or the like to handle this long book. Subject matter was great otherwise.
After sitting through the first half of this audio book I found it almost impossible to sit through part two. The amount of detail captured in the book is way too much for the casual listener who's looking for anything but an in depth history of the CIA. The book gives a thorough explanation of what all the CIA's departments do on a day to day basis which turns out to be really boring like most other office (and government) jobs. There's not much about covert action in the book at all which is more of what I was looking for. The reading was dull and didn't engage me at all but I'm not sure if it was the content or the monotone reading. The book is definitely thorough, but at the expense of being interesting. If tons of detail is what you're looking for then you may enjoy this book. It's not bad, just dry.
"A Look Back"
Ronald Kessler’s Inside the CIA is an interesting book. He has written a number of informative books including The Secrets of the FBI (2011), In the President’s Secret Service (2010) and The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI (2003). All are very good and informative and this volume is no exception except that it is outdated. Published in 1994, it is an excellent period piece and provides insight into the CIA’s workings during that era. If one is looking for a more current perspective, this book may not fill the bill. The reading of Chris Lane is good.
I thought I'd hate the book when the reader started. He had a lisp, and talked about the thee-IA. He loses soon loses the lisp - which supprised me, and did an okay job.
The book ranges from being very interesting to mind numbing detail about seemingly irrelevant details. For example, a fair amount of time is given detailing Casey's personal life, including dating and marriage plans.
Not a bad book if the CIA or spying in general interest you, but it won't go down as one of your all time best listens.
"Will make 007 look like a mummies boy"
If you like the underworld of spying, espionage and covert action, you will love this audio book. Explores every facet of the CIA, from the structure, inner working to covert missions. Will keep you tuned in for hours.
"Fair View of the Agency, but Fire the Narrator"
Yes, the book is informative and provides a fair, less-biased view of the CIA compared to most books on the Agency, which tend to either bash it or praise it.
Terrible. It sounded like a computer robot or chatbot reading text. No enthusiasm or inflection. Very monotone and dry.
Perhaps a documentary, docu-film, or like an HBO historical series (like John Adams or Band of Brothers). I'd watch it.
Overall, the book is worth the read. You get used to the narrator's voice, though it's horrible. I would have preferred to read it myself (rather than listen to that narrator), but I didn't have that luxury. But, all-in-all, a good book.
"Wish there was more"
I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. I thought the little accounts were fascinating. I could have listened to much more.
The most memorable parts to me are those that talk about the amazing accomplishments of the CIA when I've never heard of most of these stories before.
I thought the narrator was solid but not outstanding.
Its a little long to listen to this in one sitting but maybe three or four.
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