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Agents of Innocence

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  882 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published February 14th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1987)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,634)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 29, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies
”Gaze not too long into the abyss, lest the abyss gaze back at you.” Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche

But before there was an abyss in Lebanon there was this:

 photo lebanon--1965--_zps6f180c91.jpg
Lebanon’s Liberal past. Will it ever return? Photo circa 1965.

Tom Rogers is a CIA agent working out of the Beirut offices in Lebanon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is trying to establish useful contacts that will help the CIA to continue to protect American lives around the world. Lebanon is a mix of cultures divided by religious beli
Arun Divakar
Sep 19, 2011 Arun Divakar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A piece of paper with a few dots on it. There is no pattern to the dots, they are random on the pristine whiteness of the sheet. Start drawing lines connecting them without a thought as to where they will go. There, that should about do it. All crisscrossed with no idea as to what goes where.

This roughly could be a very juvenile representation of how the intelligence agencies of the world work. Somebody comes across a piece of information that they do not know how to use, they send it over to so
Feb 11, 2009 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually picked this book up because it was there and I had nothing better to do, otherwise I never would have read a story about the CIA and Lebanon in the 70's but OMG, it was really, really good! I got so wrapped up in how the CIA operative went about scouting out his Lebanese agents and carrying out his mission in a very turbulent time in the Middle East. The story is fiction but many of the events that take place are factual, which helps make the story feel more "real." It was really fasc ...more
May 23, 2012 Stan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A longtime Le Carre fan, I am always up for a good spy book. This is a very good one, similar to Le Carre in some ways, particularly in its ring of authenticity and its Hardy-esque feeling that things are going to end badly. Also as is often the case in Le Carre's books, the central characters are innocent, idealistic people drawn into a world where innocence and idealism are weaknesses to be trampled or exploited. Ignatius' writing is uncluttered and direct, with crisp declarative sentences. Lo ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was very interesting, even more so after finding it was based on fact. Written in 1987, it tells the story of a CIA agent based in Beirut in the 1970s and early 1980s, and his recruitment of a man who creates the Black Septemberists who were responsible for the kidnapping and killing of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, among other acts of violence and terror. The title Agents of Innocence, an apt description of Americans and their (our) dealings with foreign countries, a ...more
Jul 06, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Except for the really poorly written female characters, and a touch of naivete evidenced by the title, this is a spy novel that puts most others to shame. Pre-9/11 middle east - Lebanon to be exact, and filled with all the turmoil, double-dealing, trade-craft, and (my latest favorite word) mayhem, that you'd expect from the region. David Ignatius knows his subject well, plots very well, and writes more intelligently than you'd expect from anyone save le Carre.

Looking forward to a few more by Mr
Alan Brehm
Mar 20, 2014 Alan Brehm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing story because it is based on real events that occurred in the CIA's operations in Beirut leading up to the bombing of the American embassy, including the recruitment of the PLO's director of intelligence. Mr. Ignatius tells the story as a novelist, not a journalist, but it is a fascinating read because it also has the ring of truth due to his work uncovering the facts behind the story. This is the first novel I've read by him, and I'm looking forward to reading more!
Aug 30, 2014 Cropredy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
Here is the fundamental problem with this book: The author would rather take you through years of Middle East history, especially in Lebanon between 1969 and 1983, while weaving in characters caught up in the events who are neither heroes nor villains. The story is less driven by plot and more driven by the historical timeline.

One would think with the rich subject of Black September, the CIA, the Mossad, the Deuxieme Bureau, and others that a John le Carre or Gerald Seymour type story could be
Aug 07, 2013 Rosemary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first of David Ignatius's books. To relive what was going on in the 1970s as far as the Middle East was concerned was enlightening. It was difficult for me to really "get into" this book, but I'm glad I hung in there. The last half of the book became what I call a "satisfying page turner". Funny, but when I finished this book which, again, took place in the 70s, it struck me that nothing has changed. It's the same discourse today as it was then. His last book that I read, "Bloodmone ...more
Marylouise Dreibelbis
I love a well researched book, a fictional account of events in our history. This book certainly fits the bill, the characters carefully brought to life and dreading the end when you knowwhat happened but you need to find out how.
My only fault with this book and others by David Ignatus are his gratuitous attempts at family and/ or sexual events. Either drop them or flesh them out, they served no real purpose only left unanswered questions.
Excluding that I loved the book and cheerfully read every
May 19, 2012 Zbegniew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
I never give 5 Star reviews, but I could not help myself. The book is espionage fiction, but it reads much more like LeCarre than Ian Fleming. It is set primarily in the Beruit of the early 70's and that country's slow descent into anarchy. The protagonist is a CIA agent, but there are plenty of fascinating characters including Arabs, Israelis, Europeans and the Lebonese themselves. So many talented, honorable people trying to do what is right and they end up slowly, but surely, destroying the v ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that changes your perception of what is going on in the Middle East. While it is a work of fiction, I learned a lot about how things are not so black and white in the world of espionage and intelligence. It was wonderfully written and the characters were very real, making the story realistic. I would have given this 4 1/2 stars if I could. I can't wait to read more by this well-respected journalist. Who would have thought he was such an accomplished and entertaining au ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About half way through this book I checked the jacket notes to make sure I was really reading a novel and not a true story. It sure felt true! Very well written (4.5 would be my actual rating). If you like spy novels, check this one out.
Jun 04, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great spy novel set in Beirut in 70's and 80's. For those who have read Tom Friedman's 'From Beirut to Jerusalem", this is a companion piece, and in fact, Friedman and Ignatius were both journalists in Beirut in the early 80's. In addition to the mystery and intrigue it is a fascinating but depressing look at the cultural differences between Arabs and Americans that have made diplomacy so hard.

The CIA commented on this book by saying...."it is novel, but it is not fiction."
Dec 31, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy-novels
I picked this book out at the library when none of the books that I had reserved had come in yet. I was doing a spell out challenge and needed an "I" so I looked through the stacks until I found authors with the last name beginning with the letter "I". I love spy movies but haven't read a spy novel in quite some time. I am very glad that I read this book. It wasn't the easiest book to read because of all of the names of people and towns in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world but it was well w ...more
Karem Mahmoud
Jul 03, 2015 Karem Mahmoud rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am usually not a fan of spy novels. but with this novel I was impressed that the scene is Beirut 70s and 80s , where the city was the center of Intel activities of the middle east.

when I started reading this novel, felt and I was right that the character "Jamal" is the most Palestinian leader to whom I had interest to learn about, leaving the real character's name to you in case you will read this book.

the novel registers in most details the civil war in Lebanon, the regional wars and their
Great fictionalized account of recent history.

Ignatius expertly weaves together a (lightly) fictionalized account of the CIA's activities in Lebanon prior to and during its civil war in the 70s and 80s. Should be required reading for anyone interested in learning the basics about the complexities of the area. It also success as a riveting story of high-stakes espionage.

Reading it, especially the epilogue, can't help but illustrate the same mistakes we continue to make in trying to change the Mid
Oct 03, 2014 Susie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit disappointed with this book, and I think it is partly because I read it right after reading the biography of Bob Ames. This book is a fictional version of the same story. So it tells you kinda the same story, but with less detail and much less truthfulness. The one thing that I found interesting about this book is that Ignatius suggests that the if the Palestinian source (to the US) had not been murdered by the Israelis, possibly the bombing of the US embassy could have been averted. ...more
Neha M Sharma
Dec 11, 2012 Neha M Sharma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Agents of Innocence is a fascinating espionage thriller. The plot of this fictional tale is very neatly intermeshed with the factual history of that region and brings out the conflicts among Palestinians, Christians, Israelis and Arabs.

The protagonist, Tom Rogers, is a CIA operative in Lebanon in 1970s and 80s. The book follows his career, focusing on his recruitment of a PLO operative, Jamal. The book opens with a bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, but that is the only James Bond style adren
Sep 10, 2010 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Also the Body of Lies, the Increment, and a Firing Offence, clearly a patch of sleeplessness. This was the best of the group, all useful for middle of the night attempts to get back to sleep, sort of Ambienish. Ignatius does keep the action away from violent movie mayhem, and he is predictable, but these were nonetheless good page turners in an old fashioned spy novel way. It does make you a bit nervous that the CIA may have lost its edge, that what goes on behind the scenes, ala black ops, may ...more
Jun 26, 2015 Dsteffens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First Ignatius read...certainly not the last!

Sedate, intelligent historical spy novel. Extremely well crafted and worthy of 5 stars. A 13 year journey through the 70's mid-east theater - repeating itself once again, as history is bound to do.

Jul 12, 2012 Saurabh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great great read - thoroughly enjoyed it. Its a spy-thriller, with lesser focus on action/chases, and more focus on the intricacies of agent recruitment, relationships, trust vs. betrayal, conflicted emotions, etc. The backdrop of events are mostly real, and the writing is so honest, that for a while you forget that this is a fictional work.

Caution: If you are looking for fast-paced action, with lots of bombs, chases, shoot-outs etc, then you might be disappointed.


Interim review:

About 80% thr
Sep 27, 2013 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a well-written book by a Washington Post reporter who was, I believe, stationed in the Middle East at the time these events took place. I don't know if the CIA really had a PLO agent in Lebanon who went on to become a founder of Black September and a mastermind of the Munich Olympics massacre, but I think this book does an excellent job of exploring the moral ambiguity involved in intelligence work. How long do we protect an agent who is a terrorist against another country (Israe ...more
Dec 27, 2008 Al rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A workmanlike story of espionage in the Middle East in the the late sixties and early seventies. It reads like the author had access to some live data and personalities of the time, although I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure of that. The fictional "color" parts seem so obviously tacked on to the main story line, and contacts with various agents are so ordinary and dry, that one wonders if an agent were dictating his memoirs and the novelist, while transcribing them, added in a few shots o ...more
Feb 14, 2014 Lakshna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written, captures the nuances and times of middle east in 70s n 80s accurately and weaves an intriguing spy-tale with exceptionally fleshed out 3 dimensional characters.
Tony Perez-Giese
Jun 03, 2015 Tony Perez-Giese rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book absolutely lost me with this one sentence: "She was the kind of woman who would only fall in love once." WTF? [sound of an axe hitting the chopping block]
Aug 14, 2012 Firas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thrilling read and a true page turner for those who are not even interested in the politics of the modern Middle East. Ignatius- an expert on all things CIA and Middle East- blends some fiction with plenty of facts to create a masterful political thriller who's events are steeped in the conflict that ripped Lebanon apart in the mid seventies. Readers who are avid observers of Israel, the PLO, Lebanon and Syria should be able to identify the novel's famous and infamous real life characters. Tho ...more
Jun 25, 2014 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an engaging period piece about the Beirut troubles during the 60s and 70s. It's also a great spy novel which doesn't deal with the Bond-style of gadgets and evil masterminds. It's a great book!
Jun 22, 2009 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was selected by my book club and while it isn't something I would initially think to read on my own, I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Even though this is a work of fiction, I certainly learned a bit more about the Middle East during the 70's. The spy story itself was interesting, filled with fascinating and complex characters. My one complaint was how most of the women were portrayed as one dimensional, sex fiends - the protagonist's wife excluded. Aside from that ...more
John O'Malley
Nov 17, 2015 John O'Malley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific story and timely!
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David Ignatius, a prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for more than twenty-five years. His novels include Agents of Innocence, Body of Lies, and The Increment, now in development for a major motion picture by Jerry Bruckheimer. He lives in Washington, DC.
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