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The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  552 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
In the entrance of the CIA headquarters looms a huge marble wall into which seventy-one stars are carved-each representing an agent who has died in the line of duty. Official CIA records only name thirty-five of them, however. Undeterred by claims that revealing the identities of these "nameless stars" might compromise national security, Ted Gup sorted through thousands of ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Anchor (first published 2000)
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Lauren Summers
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it
I have so many thoughts about this book.

First of all, the author's motive for writing this book isn't cleverly hidden and I wish I had been aware of it before reading. Gup seems to think that the CIA's culture of secrecy needs to be overturned and there is no reason to keep the names of fallen Agency members secret years after they've died. Regardless of whether he's right or wrong, I got kind of sick of his opinions by the end because I wasn't expecting them.

The stories themselves aren't nearl
Erik Graff
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
This book consists of a long series of short biographies of some of the covert operatives who died while working for the Central Intelligence Agency, who are honored by stars in the lobby of its headquarters in Virginia, but who are not identified in its accompanying "Book of Honor". In the course of reading this book one is presented with what almost amounts to a history of the agency.

Each of the deceased is represented almost hagiographically: they're all idealistic, most handsome in one way o
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book. Sad to think our government left several of these heros in their moments of death or prison.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
I finally finished this - although my speed at completing the book would not lead one to believe this - it was a very inspiring read that left me longing for more at the end of each chapter. I would recommend this to anyone who has even a peripheral interest in the CIA or other covert government organizations, if for nothing other than knowing a little about the people who have put themselves on the line for such operations. I can think of no better tribute than a permanent record of history for ...more
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
After I finished reading this book I thought of the movie "The Good Shepherd" starring Matt Damon who portrays a CIA Officer during the Cold War. In one scene Joe Pesci tells Matt Damon that he is afraid of the CIA because the agency makes ""big wars". Matt Damon replies the CIA makes sure the wars are "small".

I think that scene sums up this book. You learn of the men and women who perished fighting "small wars" in places such as Angola and Congo in Cold War conflicts virtually unknown to Ameri
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: intelligence
Gup researched the men behind the symbols. He delves into the history of CIA case officers who were killed in the line of duty and who are represented on the Wall of Honor at CIA HQ. Gup tells the stories of a number of officers, some of whom are now publicly recognized and some who to this day are still denied the public honor by the Agency. An interesting read, but not engaging enough to keep from putting the book down. I enjoyed the stories and reading about the sacrifice, but some of them be ...more
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Just finished, in reading, couldn"t help but think, let these people do their jobs. Never thought that I would feel that way but since 9/11, my feeling is whatever it takes to keep this country safe. At times, reprehensible, end justifies the means, but we can't play by the rules when there are clearly people out there who care less about the rules and people, in general. My only regrets is that they left so many of our people to rot in prisons instead of going after them and bringing them home. ...more
Douglas Graney
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Read this in order to prep my students for visiting the CIA. However the motivation of the author for writing this is distubing. He saw the book of honor displayed at the CIA. They have stars instead of the names of some of those killed due to security concerns. He made it his mission to find who the agents were and tell their stories. If the CIA did not want their names revealed, should that not be respected?

The stories of the agents, assuming they are accuarate, are interesting enough but ther
I took a class on the CIA and Secrecy with Ted Gup at CWRU several years ago. We read excerpts of this book for class, but it wasn't until recently that I read through the whole thing. I was blessed to have the unique experience of getting his insight in person for a whole semester, including a class trip to Washington DC, however I still wish I would have read it in its entirety during that time frame. His deep passion and desire to honor the men and women that gave their lives for our country ...more
This is my first book on the history of the CIA. It was special reading about it through the lives of those who have been honored for giving their lives in service to their country and to the CIA. The author is a good writer, but sometimes interjects his opinion about the CIA's need for secrecy. (But then again, he is the author and has every right to inject his opinion.) I enjoyed the book. Learned a lot. And was surprised by some of the lives portrayed. Recommend it to anyone interested in the ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I received this book on recommendation from a professor who had read a fair amount Cold War literature. It appears to be well researched, but it is hard to determine how accurate the stories are - so I will hold out the fifth star until anyone can confirm the accuracy of the information. I would recommend it highly, and believe only Coll's Ghost Wars does a better job of bringing to life the various characters and ramifications of US policy in from the 1970's through 1990's. The stories are all ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ted is a Brandeis alumnus (which, as a fellow alum, was what had originally piqued my interest in this book when it first came out). Gup brings his skills as an investigative journalist to bear on this fascinating and never told story in which he reveals the circumstances surrounding the deaths of several CIA "heroes" whose sacrifices had, until now, been kept top secret by the CIA.... all true... very very interesting read!
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It's an excellent history of the CIA and tells the story of some truly amazing individuals. I would love to see this adapted as a miniseries in the style of "Band of Brothers" or "The Pacific." Anyone with an interest in spies or world politics and adventure will enjoy this book.
May 25, 2012 rated it liked it
True stories of various CIA agents who have died in the line of duty over the years and been recorded in a book at CIA headquarters. Names, dates and manner of death for most of them has been classified and secret--until now. These men were heroic and deserve to be remembered, but it's sad that many of them died for no particular specific purpose.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Amazing review of covert ops and agents, along with their family; almost forgotten. Very interesting and also of interest is that the book was published in January of 2001; one wonders just what kind of class of people followed with the war on terror. What a group of unsung heroes who have kept us safe!
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
The CIA is so secretive in its clandestine work, that even long after agents have died in the field, their work is kept hidden. This book reveals how the agency preserves the honor of it's fallen through rituals and silence. Recent declassified stories are related.

An unusual book in its subject, but well written and interesting.
Daniel Hadley
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it
The CIA never scrupled to invent identities for its agents, even maintaining the disguises long after they died in service. This is a history of undercover agents that sometimes reads like a spy novel and sometimes like Legacy of Ashes.
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: intelligence
The triumphs and heroes of the intelligence community are never publicized. We only hear the failures in public. Thank heaven for professionals who quietly go about keeping us safe from the things in the dark.
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Really interesting. So many secret CIA assignments that ended with tragedy. The first half of the book kept me interested, the middle was a bit dry, but the end was interesting. Not an easy read but I enjoyed the book.
The Cat  In The Hat
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It commemorates and talks about the stars that are engraved on the walls at CIA headquarters and attempts to match them with the officers that were killed in the line of duty. Each star, and officer's mission is outlined thoroughly. Very interesting.
Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I am weary to give this a 5-star rating, but I read this several years ago and it left an imprint. I still remember most of the stories and it was great to finally hear about the lives of some CIA operatives who gave their lives to that agency.
Jeff Yoak

This book tells the stories of the unnamed Book of Honor stars at the CIA. The subject matter is interesting to me, but the author's tone seems to vary from dry journalism to disapproval in a way that made me not want to stick with the book.

Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
The book is almost like a tribute to the real Book of Honor in that it tells the stories that the Book keeps quiet. Though somewhat dark, it memorializes the life of those who previously were remembered by just a star.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
While the stories behind the CIA are fascinating, some of the stories tend to become long winded. It was definitely an interesting read, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't put the book down many times before I finished.
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating true-life accounts of CIA operatives that gave their lives in service to their country and the degree to which the CIA goes to keep their names and stories from the public.
Jim Noyes
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
great stories, well documented. no matter what you think of the cia, these are heroes, and this is a well written account of their service to our country
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an awsome book detailing the lives and actions of CIA operatives who were KIA and aren't acknowledged by the CIA
Timothy Kelley
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Known and yet unknown...that's the story of American heroes written about in this book.
Burky Ford
Aug 24, 2012 is currently reading it
The stories behind the CIA wall of stars.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Joseph by: saw it on history channel
Shelves: history
Probably one of my favorite books. Unbelievable stories
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Ted Gup is the author of A Secret Gift, (Penguin Press, 2010) and two previous books: Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life (Doubleday, 2007) winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize from Harvard Universitys Kennedy School of Government, and the bestseller, The Book of Honor: Covert Lives And Classified Deaths At The CIA (Doubleday, 2000.) He is a former investigative r ...more
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