LEFT OF BOOM by John Smith

LEFT OF BOOM

How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A heavily redacted tale of how recruiting sources within the Taliban from top-secret CIA encampments in Afghanistan is exhilarating but not conducive to maintaining healthy relationships back home.

Smith, a pseudonym, spent several years on the ground in remote areas of Afghanistan, clashing with agency bureaucracy, growing a large beard, achieving fluency in several dialects of the local language, and occasionally being mistaken for a local. With the aid of Pezzullo, a prolific collaborator on the memoirs of those in Special Forces and the intelligence community (Zero Footprint, 2016, etc.), Smith recounts his swashbuckling exploits in inelegant prose, distinguished chiefly by the conceit that huge amounts of it—lone words, whole paragraphs, occasionally the majority of a page—are visibly redacted. An example: “After a month of playing cowboy, I returned to the daily grind of Langley and started dating a sweet brunette named Hannah, ------ ------------------------------ ----------------------- -------------- --- -------. Determined to maintain my cover, I told her, Austin, and my other friends that I worked for a ------------ (private company).” Once the author moves from headquarters to the redacted but easily identifiable province in Afghanistan where he was first stationed, the redactions become ever longer and more frequent, leaving major questions for readers. One fully redacted paragraph even has a footnote sourcing the unshown information to a Wikipedia article. While Smith (purportedly) had little difficulty mastering the language and cultivating sources in hostile territory, maintaining his cover for his girlfriends was another matter, and his work led to the demise of multiple romances. Many friends, he learned, “thought I was deliberately being mysterious to make it appear that my life was more interesting than it was. Ironically, some of them thought that I wanted them to think that I was a spy.”

A highly amped, --------- book that ------- readers will find --------.

Pub Date: April 5th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-250-08136-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016




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