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The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House

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The story of a young woman from Montana who joined the CIA and worked her way up through the ranks to the frontline of the fight against Islamic extremists. In 1999, 30-year-old Nada Bakos moved from her lifelong home in Montana to Washington, DC, to join the CIA. Quickly realizing her affinity for intelligence work, Nada was determined to rise through the ranks of the agen The story of a young woman from Montana who joined the CIA and worked her way up through the ranks to the frontline of the fight against Islamic extremists. In 1999, 30-year-old Nada Bakos moved from her lifelong home in Montana to Washington, DC, to join the CIA. Quickly realizing her affinity for intelligence work, Nada was determined to rise through the ranks of the agency first as an analyst and then as a Targeting Officer, eventually finding herself on the frontline of America's War against Islamic extremists. In this role, Nada was charged with finding the godfather of ISIS and mastermind of Al Qaeda in Iraq: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In a tight, tension-packed narrative that takes the reader from Langley deep into Iraq, Bakos reveals the inner workings of the Agency and the largely hidden world of intelligence gathering post 9/11. Entrenched in the predominantly male world of the CIA, Bakos belonged to a small yet dedicated sisterhood leading U.S. Special Operations Forces to the doorstep of one of the world's most wanted terrorists. Filled with on-the-ground insights and poignant personal anecdotes, The Targeter shows us the great personal sacrifice that comes with intelligence work. This is Nada's story, but it is also an intimate chronicle of how a group of determined, ambitious men and women worked tirelessly in the heart of the CIA to ensure our nation's safety at home and abroad.


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The story of a young woman from Montana who joined the CIA and worked her way up through the ranks to the frontline of the fight against Islamic extremists. In 1999, 30-year-old Nada Bakos moved from her lifelong home in Montana to Washington, DC, to join the CIA. Quickly realizing her affinity for intelligence work, Nada was determined to rise through the ranks of the agen The story of a young woman from Montana who joined the CIA and worked her way up through the ranks to the frontline of the fight against Islamic extremists. In 1999, 30-year-old Nada Bakos moved from her lifelong home in Montana to Washington, DC, to join the CIA. Quickly realizing her affinity for intelligence work, Nada was determined to rise through the ranks of the agency first as an analyst and then as a Targeting Officer, eventually finding herself on the frontline of America's War against Islamic extremists. In this role, Nada was charged with finding the godfather of ISIS and mastermind of Al Qaeda in Iraq: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In a tight, tension-packed narrative that takes the reader from Langley deep into Iraq, Bakos reveals the inner workings of the Agency and the largely hidden world of intelligence gathering post 9/11. Entrenched in the predominantly male world of the CIA, Bakos belonged to a small yet dedicated sisterhood leading U.S. Special Operations Forces to the doorstep of one of the world's most wanted terrorists. Filled with on-the-ground insights and poignant personal anecdotes, The Targeter shows us the great personal sacrifice that comes with intelligence work. This is Nada's story, but it is also an intimate chronicle of how a group of determined, ambitious men and women worked tirelessly in the heart of the CIA to ensure our nation's safety at home and abroad.

30 review for The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    A true story with the propulsion of a thriller and fascinating details of life in the CIA The true story of a rural Montana girl who took an unlikely path to the center of the U.S. war on terror. The title refers to Bakos's role chasing down one of the most dangerous extremist leaders the U.S. faced in Iraq, leader of the group known at one time as Al Qaeda in Iraq and which would later become ISIS, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. The story has the pace and tension of a thriller but is larded with fascinat A true story with the propulsion of a thriller and fascinating details of life in the CIA The true story of a rural Montana girl who took an unlikely path to the center of the U.S. war on terror. The title refers to Bakos's role chasing down one of the most dangerous extremist leaders the U.S. faced in Iraq, leader of the group known at one time as Al Qaeda in Iraq and which would later become ISIS, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. The story has the pace and tension of a thriller but is larded with fascinating details on what the work of a CIA analyst and of a CIA targeter really looks like, and what it was like to be in the thick of things, both in Iraq and back in the DC area, in the early years of the Iraq war. Bakos comes across as a true patriot who wants to make a difference but not one to drink the Kool-Aid. Her misgivings about some of the decisions made by the administration during her CIA career indicate someone with an independence of thought, guided by immense dedication to what she sees as in the best interests of her country. A ground-level view of events like you won't be able to get from many others. I want to see the 12-episode prestige TV series version of this - it would be a corker.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    Lots of action and insights are offered in this eventful and candid account of a lady working for the CIA in the difficult years subsequent to 9/11. She and her team spend a lot of time and effort tracking down and capturing the terrorists active in Iraq. Their dedication and persistence really stand out. It exacts a heavy price, however, as she later deals with PTSD. Her sense of humor is a big help. Enjoyable nonfiction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ayushman

    The Targeter offers an interesting perspective into the organisational culture of the CIA. Nada Bakos' description of feeling powerless despite working in the Agency was notable. The book attempts to provide serious introspection into the activities of the Agency in the build-up to and in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. It could've been a valuable contribution to the literature on intelligence theory and the politicisation of intelligence but is, in my opinion, hampered by Bakos The Targeter offers an interesting perspective into the organisational culture of the CIA. Nada Bakos' description of feeling powerless despite working in the Agency was notable. The book attempts to provide serious introspection into the activities of the Agency in the build-up to and in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. It could've been a valuable contribution to the literature on intelligence theory and the politicisation of intelligence but is, in my opinion, hampered by Bakos' focus on her own story, and her lack of access and understanding of the wider functioning of the organisation.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A candid and revealing work, if somewhat uneven. The narrative is tight, straightforward and very accessible. Bakos doesn’t try to inflate her role or accuse colleagues or policymakers of “not listening to her.” Many Agency memoirs are written by people from the DO, and it’s nice to get a view of what it’s like for the Intelligence Directorate. A lot of the book deals with Bakos’ involvement in the hunt for Zarqawi (Bakos' tour in Iraq ended shortly before Zarqawi was killed, but she does include A candid and revealing work, if somewhat uneven. The narrative is tight, straightforward and very accessible. Bakos doesn’t try to inflate her role or accuse colleagues or policymakers of “not listening to her.” Many Agency memoirs are written by people from the DO, and it’s nice to get a view of what it’s like for the Intelligence Directorate. A lot of the book deals with Bakos’ involvement in the hunt for Zarqawi (Bakos' tour in Iraq ended shortly before Zarqawi was killed, but she does include an account of the operation that resulted in his death) The position of “special skills officer-targeting,” (“targeter,” as most books say) is a relatively new one at CIA, and Bakos provides some good insights into how it originated and the kind of people that are selected for the position. Bakos does a great job describing the human element of intelligence work, and gives a lot of great insights into how CIA works and how terrorist organizations operate. She also covers the ways in which sexism affected her work. For example, she writes of instances where she and a male colleague had the same suggestion to make, only to have him receive a better reception. In another aspect of this, she describes the effects on a jihadist upon being interrogated by a woman. Bakos had ground-level experience in both war zones and Washington, and both aspects of her career are interesting to read about (the Iraq section is the more interesting of the two) Her description of life in Baghdad is tense and pretty interesting. She does a great job showing the kind of difficult intelligence work that goes into a manhunt (without revealing much about the tradecraft of it), and how dependent it is on a team effort, unlike the Hollywood versions (She doesn’t address the question of whether such an approach has been a strategic success) She describes the CIA’s partnership with JSOC, and how exhilarating it could be collect intelligence that would drive their campaign against al-Qaeda: “I’d never imagine intelligence could turn into action so fast.” There aren’t many problems with the writing, although the narrative can transition awkwardly at times. Some of Bakos’ recollections come off as superficial (they’re often just anecdotes), and some readers might find the stories of her personal life in the US uninteresting. Some of what she writes about when it comes to the CIA is stuff that, more likely than not, you probably read in another book already. If you’re looking for new insights on familiar episodes, you probably won’t find as many as you want. There’s not even that much detail on how her work affected her personally; at one point she mentions dealing with PTSD, but this isn’t dealt with in depth. Also, a few parts are confusing if you’ve read previous books on the Iraq War, but they’re just little errors for the most part. At one point, she mentions the Ansar al-Islam camp at Khurmal and Zarqawi’s presence, saying that the US did not strike it until the summer of 2003 (Really? I thought it was attacked early on in the war) Bakos also writes that President Bush implicated Zarqawi in the 9/11 attacks, in his October 2002 speech in Cincinnati. There was unreliable information in that speech, for sure, but did it include this? An engaging and well-written work, but it might not have the insights or revelations you’re hoping for.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. A former CIA agent writes about her life in The Company. It's a lot different than in the espionage novels. Nobody seems to know what they're doing, and there's an awful lot of politicians and bureaucrats involved. She and the agency try to find out about terrorists, and keep themselves out of legal jeopardy. Informative.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I can't recommend this enough. Nada tells a personal story of service and sacrifice and fighting for facts while standing up against political agendas. Importantly, she shows the human story of those that are serving in our Intelligence Community who are our neighbors and our friends...patriots who give their all for the service of others and, all too often, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families vs some “deep state” portrayed so often in movies and by politicians with personal agen I can't recommend this enough. Nada tells a personal story of service and sacrifice and fighting for facts while standing up against political agendas. Importantly, she shows the human story of those that are serving in our Intelligence Community who are our neighbors and our friends...patriots who give their all for the service of others and, all too often, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families vs some “deep state” portrayed so often in movies and by politicians with personal agendas. This is an important read in a time where false information, attacks on facts, and extremist views and ideologies are front & center across the globe. Nada and those with whom she worked, set an example as to what it means to serve and fight (both inside and outside the Intelligence Community) for the truth.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve Stred

    I’m a big fan of alternative history or exploring ‘other’ options of how things might have played out. This will sound like I’m a big proponent of conspiracy theories, but I know we, as the public, are not always privileged to know all of the details of what happens. We are told only what we need to know or what a government agency deems necessary for the public to know. Hence – all of the redacted parts when a Freedom of Information Act request is granted. This love of alternative stuff led me t I’m a big fan of alternative history or exploring ‘other’ options of how things might have played out. This will sound like I’m a big proponent of conspiracy theories, but I know we, as the public, are not always privileged to know all of the details of what happens. We are told only what we need to know or what a government agency deems necessary for the public to know. Hence – all of the redacted parts when a Freedom of Information Act request is granted. This love of alternative stuff led me to find the show ‘Hunting Hitler.’ This show had three seasons on the History Channel and really what I was enthralled by was seeing just how immense the war effort had been. The cast and crew travelled across Europe and South America, showing different places and massive war time construction efforts. As someone who has never been a member of the military or involved in anything like this, it is fascinating to see. During the shows run, Nada Bakos was brought on board and I was immediately drawn into her level-headedness and how she always worked to state facts/ideas and never worked towards sensationalizing the story. Sadly, I found she wasn’t featured enough, as she became one of my favourite people featured. Which led me to her book ‘The Targeter.’ Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for approving me for this book. I only read a handful of non-fiction books each year, but when I saw Bakos’ name pop up, I knew I needed to throw my hate in the ring and read about her previous career. This book is an exhilarating romp following the behind the scenes story of how Bakos’ was involved in tracking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a mastermind with ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Nada does a fantastic job of sharing her story with us in spurts and as the hunt pics up, it reads like a well-made war movie. I had a great time reading this and as a Canadian, it’s always interesting to read about how the USA functions at some of the top tier levels. For those who are reading this for any ‘Hunting Hitler’ dirt, this book doesn’t deal with it at all. But that shouldn’t stop you from checking this fast-paced thriller out. I really enjoyed that citations were added at the end to help with the logistical nightmare keeping this stuff in order must have been.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rb Andry

    The Targeter is a fascinating, entertaining first person behind the scenes account of a CIA’s analysts attempts to counter the White House’s misguided motivations to invade Iraq and her subsequent role hunting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the forefather of ISIS. The Targeter seems especially relevant today given the Iran related saber-rattling currently emanating from Bolton / Trump Admin. Bakos’ role at the CIA places her in a unique position to witness and influence the U.S. political, military and dip The Targeter is a fascinating, entertaining first person behind the scenes account of a CIA’s analysts attempts to counter the White House’s misguided motivations to invade Iraq and her subsequent role hunting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the forefather of ISIS. The Targeter seems especially relevant today given the Iran related saber-rattling currently emanating from Bolton / Trump Admin. Bakos’ role at the CIA places her in a unique position to witness and influence the U.S. political, military and diplomatic efforts in Cheney’s Iraq war. The targeter is a mashup that provides a fact-based version of Zero Dark Thirty and includes an unvarnished description of the political shenanigans that occurred in the run up to and during the Iraq war (ala All the President’s Men) and includes comedic episodes reminiscent of the movie M.A.S.H. I found it interesting to read this story from a woman’s perspective; there aren’t any super hero stories in this book. There are plenty of depictions of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in stressful circumstances. But Bakos also does a great job of describing the tragedy, humanity and foibles that occur in politics and war.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Interesting book. What if Carrie Mathison were real? She'd have had Nada Bakos' CIA career. Recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ben Everhart

    There are some riveting, informative parts to this book, especially the search for al-Zarqawi. Unfortunately, all that is in the last 20% and it becomes a case of too-little-too-late. The structure to this book is strange, with long deviations into tangential biographical details that don't add up to a narrative. There's also quite a bit of axe-grinding with former colleagues which would be interesting if it illuminated broader ideological/political issues with American foreign policy -- but no, There are some riveting, informative parts to this book, especially the search for al-Zarqawi. Unfortunately, all that is in the last 20% and it becomes a case of too-little-too-late. The structure to this book is strange, with long deviations into tangential biographical details that don't add up to a narrative. There's also quite a bit of axe-grinding with former colleagues which would be interesting if it illuminated broader ideological/political issues with American foreign policy -- but no, it's just plain old bristling at former bosses. There are lots of unrelated anecdotes that don't seem to relate to one another. But then, as mentioned, the book really takes off contrasting the search for al-Zarqawi with life as a newlywed in a DC suburb. That stuff is great... but I suspect, since there wasn't enough there to make a whole book, decisions were made to slice/dice a bunch of filler for the middle. I was also disappointed the book didn't offer more insight into the job itself. I realize most of what they were doing is classified. However, I expected to gain more understanding of how a CIA targeter thinks, how they make deductions, what makes certain pieces of information stand out over others. What does it actually take to be an effective targeter? While there was some exploration of the job itself, it was mostly to illuminate the tedium.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alan Hardwick

    Simply outstanding. Nada Bakos brings a very human touch to an environment so few ever get to experience in real life. This glimpse into the world of counterterrorism is a very poignant and accurate accounting of how the work itself impacts the workers, those rare and few souls who carry the massive weight of responsibility for not only the safety of our country and its people, but for those who suffer from the hands of violent extremists around the world. The importance of Targeting Officers, I Simply outstanding. Nada Bakos brings a very human touch to an environment so few ever get to experience in real life. This glimpse into the world of counterterrorism is a very poignant and accurate accounting of how the work itself impacts the workers, those rare and few souls who carry the massive weight of responsibility for not only the safety of our country and its people, but for those who suffer from the hands of violent extremists around the world. The importance of Targeting Officers, Intelligence Analysts, and the apparatus which supports them cannot be overstated. And yet, as Bakos points out, these excellent, wonderful, and amazing people are frequently forgotten, overlooked, and unseen. And damaged. I truly appreciated the finish of this book; not just the end of the target's story, but how Bakos reacts to hearing rumblings and seeing things on the nightly news after the fact, after she has finished her work, hoping there is someone paying attention to the nuances, someone who caught the factor influencing the latest trend. It is so critical that there is someone in place who was smart enough to catch it, driven enough to do something about it, and strong enough to fight through the bureaucratic BS to bring the issue to the attention of apt decision makers. Bakos was one of the best. Implied in these moments of her wondering is the possible dark reality that these critical tasks may not be happening at the level at which they should...that those who are supposed to be keeping watch or relentlessly digging or on the hunt could be otherwise occupied with their own lives or distracted career goals. Or perhaps they never wanted to do it at all. Thankfully, that is typically not the case. This book refreshed my gratitude for the ongoing work of counterterrorism professionals who understand the gravity of their task and work tirelessly for as long as they can, even to their own personal detriment. All the rest of us can really say is Wow, and Thank You. Nada, I know you have paid the price for the work you have done, and in some ways continue to do so. Thank you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    The Targeter delves into the analysts role at the CIA and provides meaningful and interesting perspective from a critical component in the battle against terrorism in today’s world. This is a great compliment to gaining even greater insights to the processes to understanding how in today’s labyrinth of terrorism an analysts work is critical to exploring how a terrorist is located through measures such as Camp Cropper in Iraq, who knew? This highlights a lesser known component than say the analys The Targeter delves into the analysts role at the CIA and provides meaningful and interesting perspective from a critical component in the battle against terrorism in today’s world. This is a great compliment to gaining even greater insights to the processes to understanding how in today’s labyrinth of terrorism an analysts work is critical to exploring how a terrorist is located through measures such as Camp Cropper in Iraq, who knew? This highlights a lesser known component than say the analyst and The Seals getting Bin Ladin or the WMD question as highlighted in the Green Zone with Military & journalistic search for weapons of mass destruction. The Seals are indeed bad ass but the work of Nada Bakos ( search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) is Bad Ass in her own right! Cheers to these unknown heroes !

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    The Targeter is a compelling narrative of events within the CIA after 9/11 from the vantage point of someone who was there. The description of what life was like in Baghdad during the Iraq war was fascinating, and it never fails to amaze me the willingness of people to make such huge sacrifices to protect other human beings. Although we are aware that our military and intelligence communities are working to defend our nation from enemies (both within and without), I never realized how in harms w The Targeter is a compelling narrative of events within the CIA after 9/11 from the vantage point of someone who was there. The description of what life was like in Baghdad during the Iraq war was fascinating, and it never fails to amaze me the willingness of people to make such huge sacrifices to protect other human beings. Although we are aware that our military and intelligence communities are working to defend our nation from enemies (both within and without), I never realized how in harms way these people truly are, and it is interesting to hear from someone first-hand the after-effects of this type of work. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in post-9/11 intelligence and the build-up to the Iraq war, as well as anyone fascinated by intelligence agencies and how they operate. Thank you, Nada, for your sacrifices and for sharing your experiences!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Han Wang

    This book is a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Intelligence Community, as author Nada Bakos recounts her experience as a CIA analyst trying to locate and hunt down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The story is compelling, and she does a good job balancing advancing the narrative while also relating her internal emotional experience to the reader. Of course, you'll have a million questions, the answers to which are surely classified at the highest level, but I'd say it's definitely worth a read if This book is a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Intelligence Community, as author Nada Bakos recounts her experience as a CIA analyst trying to locate and hunt down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The story is compelling, and she does a good job balancing advancing the narrative while also relating her internal emotional experience to the reader. Of course, you'll have a million questions, the answers to which are surely classified at the highest level, but I'd say it's definitely worth a read if the subject matter is interesting to you.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Doris Gourbere

    Grateful for this book and all the work and sacrifice that went into it. The personal parts - which i was incredibly surprised to find and appreciative of - were essential to understanding the person behind the story. Her account on the Iraq War, AQI, Zarqawi and ISIS was not only informative but also honest and accessible. I think this book should be read and reread by all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rob Kramer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The War in Iraq has now come to be known as an abject failure in state building with the United State’s government’s cynical torture and disinformation campaign waged against the world and its own citizens. That it overthrew a murderous tyrant only to allow a host of them to spill into Iraq only worsens the hindsight. Bakos however adds a new perspective to the known and the unknown by giving her first hand recount in the side game of cat and mouse of locating and eliminating Abu Musab al-Zarqaw The War in Iraq has now come to be known as an abject failure in state building with the United State’s government’s cynical torture and disinformation campaign waged against the world and its own citizens. That it overthrew a murderous tyrant only to allow a host of them to spill into Iraq only worsens the hindsight. Bakos however adds a new perspective to the known and the unknown by giving her first hand recount in the side game of cat and mouse of locating and eliminating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a crazed drug runner who joins and climbs the ranks within Al-Queda. While her novel plays out with all the expected suspected suspension of a CIA agent on the hunt and under pressure to deliver the appropriate incriminating narrative to her superiors and White House, it is her own personal narrative of a woman fighting the men and powerful institutions that seek to dismiss her findings that is the real draw. The character Maya from the movie, Zero Dark Thirty is an obvious parallel in story arc and background to her yet her account does better than the movie in several aspects. In establishing her background in growing up in rural Montana, undergoing a rocky divorce and joining the CIA as a second act, she allows the reader to get a real sense of life experiences that inform her decisions. Her credits to the fellow women coworkers mark the sacrifices taken and obstacles presented to women who serve their country. Finally its defining motif is the cynicism in how the information gathered by America’s intelligence community is demanded by those in power to be written for the predisposed storyline. In a time where disinformation runs rampant, this biopic is a reminder that there are civil servants who seek to protect and hunt not just for terrorists but also the truth.

  17. 5 out of 5

    chris

    So this is a two-part review. if you're not ready to read about the brutality of what terrorists do, where they "come from" and how they operate, and the messed up reality that is the U.S. Government, why it does what it does (facts vs. reality), etc, this is NOT the book for you. The first review is for the political, job, world, terrorist, inner workings of the CIA: an overload of information, some of it really upsetting, disturbing and oh, did I say upsetting? but a great briefing of what was ha So this is a two-part review. if you're not ready to read about the brutality of what terrorists do, where they "come from" and how they operate, and the messed up reality that is the U.S. Government, why it does what it does (facts vs. reality), etc, this is NOT the book for you. The first review is for the political, job, world, terrorist, inner workings of the CIA: an overload of information, some of it really upsetting, disturbing and oh, did I say upsetting? but a great briefing of what was happening. and I did mean "briefing" because it felt like I was being briefed in a conference room. I give it a 4 star. The second review is for the story: it's the same problem I saw in Michelle Obama's book, an overload of information but not enough story to move it along. a reluctant hero on a journey, of sorts, who gets their ass handed to them while trying to "fight the good fight" or whatever. it felt more like a briefing than a compelling story with a main character who hooked my attention by their personality, fight, and journey of story. Facts or details do not make a story. Nor a journey. Nor do they hook the audience to your main character. Personality does. emotion does. drama does. I give it a 2.5 star.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Carlson

    Former CIA analyst Nada Bakos with David Coburn (no detailed credit given) shares her entry into the CIA from her Montana upbringing in The Targeter; My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House (pp. 354) Her role was finding Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and she's not the woman who found Bin Laden by the way which seems like an odd revelation. Having read enough to know about this time in American history, what the Bush Administration pushed as a narrative to cover themselves i Former CIA analyst Nada Bakos with David Coburn (no detailed credit given) shares her entry into the CIA from her Montana upbringing in The Targeter; My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House (pp. 354) Her role was finding Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and she's not the woman who found Bin Laden by the way which seems like an odd revelation. Having read enough to know about this time in American history, what the Bush Administration pushed as a narrative to cover themselves in America and while in Iraq I was expecting something much more riveting. Maybe it's the writing but this put me to sleep most of the time. I'm wanting to be supporting of any woman who puts herself in a precarious position especially when terrorism is concerned but no, I'll pass on the whining. No one wants to read it. Her photo is equally as odd and shadowy as if she doesn't want to be photographed. Accompanied with notes and acknowledgements.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Petit

    had the potential to be serious piece, but kind of a fluff piece instead. There are a few clever broad organizational questions and interesting corroborative detail, for example re: hunt for Zarqawi, or HR person becomes interrogator in early OIF; but it's wrapped in a self-centric narrative which includes too much about uninteresting & irrelevant trash: match dot com, love of her dog, fear if icky spiders, and personal relationship details. Ten years in Agency (vice a career) and 4 mos tour in had the potential to be serious piece, but kind of a fluff piece instead. There are a few clever broad organizational questions and interesting corroborative detail, for example re: hunt for Zarqawi, or HR person becomes interrogator in early OIF; but it's wrapped in a self-centric narrative which includes too much about uninteresting & irrelevant trash: match dot com, love of her dog, fear if icky spiders, and personal relationship details. Ten years in Agency (vice a career) and 4 mos tour in Iraq? doesn't substantiate expert knowledge she's hocking. If you know noting about Iraq 2003-ish Nat Sec, maybe a primer. If you know something about that, better to go find Ali Soufan or Mark Mazetti or Michael Morrell

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Belanger

    This book was okay. It’s called The Targeter, but she does not become a Targeting Officer until page 207 of a 305 page books (not including notes or acknowledgments, but does include the epilogue).And she never really gives the audience a clear picture of what she did in that role. This is mostly a collection of random memories. A large portion of the book was about her few months in Iraq as an analyst. Also, the title is a bit much. While she did become a subject matter expert on AQI, she does n This book was okay. It’s called The Targeter, but she does not become a Targeting Officer until page 207 of a 305 page books (not including notes or acknowledgments, but does include the epilogue).And she never really gives the audience a clear picture of what she did in that role. This is mostly a collection of random memories. A large portion of the book was about her few months in Iraq as an analyst. Also, the title is a bit much. While she did become a subject matter expert on AQI, she does not talk a lot about her work actually tracking him. Also, I did not see any real Challenging of the White House.

  21. 5 out of 5

    E

    This was good, entertaining in parts and horrific in others. I wish it came with a cast of characters just because keeping straight who was who in Zarqawi's network and what their expertise was, was at times difficult. I enjoyed the slices of reality/home life Nada threw in, it wasn't all work work work but because the job was so demanding, she did highlight the toll it took. I found the epilogue most interesting, calling for a nonmilitary solution. It wasn't surprising, except that it was printe This was good, entertaining in parts and horrific in others. I wish it came with a cast of characters just because keeping straight who was who in Zarqawi's network and what their expertise was, was at times difficult. I enjoyed the slices of reality/home life Nada threw in, it wasn't all work work work but because the job was so demanding, she did highlight the toll it took. I found the epilogue most interesting, calling for a nonmilitary solution. It wasn't surprising, except that it was printed in black and white. I can only imagine how much disillusionment didn't make its way between the pages.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick SG

    A unique inside look at the intelligence apparatus of the War on Terror, specifically from the insight of a woman. I found it particularly interesting how her perspective as a woman allowed her to look at a scenario and see a different situation than that of her male colleagues. For example, when reviewing drone video the presence or absence of women and children in the area presented her with a different solution than that of others. The book also presents a balance view of the early motivations A unique inside look at the intelligence apparatus of the War on Terror, specifically from the insight of a woman. I found it particularly interesting how her perspective as a woman allowed her to look at a scenario and see a different situation than that of her male colleagues. For example, when reviewing drone video the presence or absence of women and children in the area presented her with a different solution than that of others. The book also presents a balance view of the early motivations for the Iraq war.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    I learned A LOT about what went on in the search for WMD in Iraq, how the Bush administration justified the invasion of Iraq, the relationship between Bin Laden and Zarqawi, how ISIS/ISIL formed. Later, perhaps, but better late than never. ALSO it's written by a WOMAN that was a targeter (the job title says it all) for the CIA. She was in HR and ended up a targeter in the CIA. You go, girl! An easy to read study of how we got into Iraq and made a mess of it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    A fascinating memoir of the times referenced in this book. There are times when the text seems rushed/sketchy/jagged. My suspicion is that this is due to the CIA vetting process which occurred over a few years. Initially i ordered this book in October 2016. It was not until this summer that it was published. It is good to hear another voice sharing how the past administrations/military complexs (those on all sides of the conflicts) got so much wrong. And ended up enflaming the Middle East.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Edwards

    A good review of her work within the CIA, both domestically, and in the field in Iraq. Just enough insight into her background, work and views on The Agency and The Bush Administration to give the reader a good overall view of the workings of a so-called "Targeter." A very readable/listenable account.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marianna

    Interesting set of information written by former CIA operative. It reads much like a CIA brief. Horrific just to think that US invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Although I knew that it’s still shocking to read the actual background of how the government was trying to justify their wrongful move. Interesting read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Al

    There is so much to like in this book but overall it does not come together in a satisfactory way. The story is riveting when Bakos talks about her individual experiences but the overall narrative can be long winded. Still, there is so much that can be gleaned from what she does have that I can’t give this less than 4 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    thhanh

    Informative, I stupidly expected crunchy details of a raid on some big-name terrorist but of course this is all classified information ; for secret service agencies geeks and those interested in the specific subject and period of the CIA's work in the 2000's Middle East's invasion told through the personal point of view of one person.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chester Marx

    Interesting first hand account of CIA work. Most of the political drama I had read about, but it's good to be reminded of skulduggery that goes on. Good read & timely in view of the mess in the Middle east. Interesting first hand account of CIA work. Most of the political drama I had read about, but it's good to be reminded of skulduggery that goes on. Good read & timely in view of the mess in the Middle east.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Butch

    Ok. It was ok through the killing of Zawquari. Then it sort of turned into a look at me and political platform

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