Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Ghost by Fred Burton
Title: Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent by Fred Burton
How it was obtained: I borrowed it from a friend.
Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 1 week.
Days spent reading it: 1 week.
Why I read it: Since I've talked about dreaming about being a spy, my friend Kristen suggested I read this real life account of a counterterrorist. She handed me this book and told me it was fascinating. Of course I had to read it after that glowing endorsement!
Brief review: This is the story of Fred Burton, a cop who joins the Diplomatic Security Service. On his first day he is put into the Counterterrorism branch, a division in the 1980s that consisted of 1 veteran, and now 2 rookies. And his story is gripping. As Burton is thrown into the underworld of terrorism in the 80s, he makes it clear that America was in a very precarious position in our security measures. Burton becomes an expert on the Middle East.
Burton's tale is intriguing, scary, and informative. It will force you to think about all the work that goes into keeping America safe. Even though most of the book is written about the 80s and 90s, it is so poignant to today's milieu. 9/11 looms ever present in the background of Burton's narrative. He sees it coming, and he sees something like it coming again because when people want to destroy your way of life, they will find a way around the security measures and safety measures you have developed over time. There are gaps in security everywhere. That is the haunting part about reading this book.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the counterterrorism efforts of America. Burton loves his country. But more importantly, the part I really liked about this book, is that Burton never seems to lose his sense of moral right and wrong. He begins to see more shades of gray, but he makes a clear declaration that some things are good and some things are evil. What a breath of fresh air from the often ambiguous "Dark World." There is a lot we can learn from Burton's work as a DSS agent, and it made for compelling reading.
Favorite quote: "Justice became just another bargaining chip. This is the way the world works. We've got to make these deals if we're ever going to bring the cartels down and take out their leadership. Still the idea that U.S. Marshals have to guard a man like Victor makes my skin crawl. Though logically I recognize that the Dark World is morally ambiguous, I cling to my black-and-white view of things. Right and wrong, they are the pillars of what I stand for and believe in. But the big gray gap between them just got a little bigger today…. I've got to be careful in this business. If I let it own me, I'll lose my moral compass like so many others in the past."
Stars: 4 out of 5.
Final Word: Spooky.