"A sophisticated, deeply informed account of real life in the real CIA that adds immeasurably to the public understanding of the espionage culture—the good and the bad." —Bob Woodward
Jack Devine ran Charlie Wilson's War in Afghanistan. It was the largest covert action of the Cold War, and it was Devine who put the brand-new Stinger missile into the hands of the mujahideen during their war with the Soviets, paving the way to a decisive victory against the Russians. He also pushed the CIA's effort to run down the narcotics trafficker Pablo Escobar in Colombia. He tried to warn the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, that there was a bullet coming from Iraq with his name on it. He was in Chile when Allende fell, and he had too much to do with Iran-Contra for his own taste, though he tried to stop it. And he tangled with Rick Ames, the KGB spy inside the CIA, and hunted Robert Hanssen, the mole in the FBI.
Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story is the spellbinding memoir of Devine's time in the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served for more than thirty years, rising to become the acting deputy director of operations, responsible for all of the CIA's spying operations. This is a story of intrigue and high-stakes maneuvering, all the more gripping when the fate of our geopolitical order hangs in the balance. But this book also sounds a warning to our nation's decision makers: covert operations, not costly and devastating full-scale interventions, are the best safeguard of America's interests worldwide.
Part memoir, part historical redress, Good Hunting debunks outright some of the myths surrounding the Agency and cautions against its misuses. Beneath the exotic allure—living abroad with his wife and six children, running operations in seven countries, and serving successive presidents from Nixon to Clinton—this is a realist, gimlet-eyed account of the Agency. Now, as Devine sees it, the CIA is trapped within a larger bureaucracy, losing swaths of turf to the military, and, most ominous of all, is becoming overly weighted toward paramilitary operations after a decade of war. Its capacity to do what it does best—spying and covert action—has been seriously degraded. Good Hunting sheds light on some of the CIA's deepest secrets and spans an illustrious tenure—and never before has an acting deputy director of operations come forth with such an account. With the historical acumen of Steve Coll's Ghost Wars and gripping scenarios that evoke the novels of John le Carré even as they hew closely to the facts on the ground, Devine offers a master class in spycraft.
In a career that peaked as associate director of the CIA's overseas operations, Devine served and survived more than three decades with the CIA, from the Nixon to Clinton administrations. Predictably, he considers "a powerful intelligence service... an imperative of modern statecraft," believes in the effectiveness of covert action, and denounces the current tendency to politicize intelligence while condemning "White House dabbling.'" Devine describes the CIA's thinking on covert action during his career and discusses without excessive use of the first person singular his worldwide implementation of those principles at the sharp end of covert war, from overseeing the missile shipments that initiated the Iran-Contra scandal to delivering the Stingers that turned the tide against the Russians in Afghanistan. He argues for long-term maintenance of a "CIA covert action component" in Afghanistan as part of a "robust U.S. mission," and hypothesizes that "most future paramilitary engagement will be reminiscent of the smaller Cold War covert action programs." Whether one agrees with Devine's particulars, the insights derived from a long and varied career make this a top-line addition to the proliferating body of "insider" memoirs from the years when the Cold War gave way to the "war on terrorism," and the rules began to change.