Surprise, Kill, Vanish
The definitive, character-driven history of CIA covert operations and U.S. government-sponsored assassinations, from the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Pentagon's BrainSince 1947, domestic and foreign assassinations have been executed under the CIA-led covert action operations team. Before that time, responsibility for taking out America's enemies abroad was even more shrouded in mystery. Despite Hollywood notions of last-minute rogue-operations and external secret hires, covert action is actually a cog in a colossal foreign policy machine, moving through, among others, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the House and Senate Select Committees. At the end of the day, it is the President, not the CIA, who is singularly in charge.When diplomacy fails and overt military action is not feasible, the President often calls on the Special Activities Division, the most secretive and lowest-profile branch of the CIA. It is this paramilitary team that undertakes dramatic and little-known assignments: hostage rescues, sabotage, and, of course, assassinations.For the first time, Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobsen takes us deep inside this top-secret history. With unparalleled access to former operatives, ambassadors, and even past directors of the Secret Service and CIA operations, Jacobsen reveals the inner workings of these teams, and just how far a U.S. president may go, covertly but lawfully, to pursue the nation's interests.

Surprise, Kill, Vanish Details

TitleSurprise, Kill, Vanish
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 14th, 2019
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN-139780316441438
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, Military Fiction

Surprise, Kill, Vanish Review

  • Annie Jacobsen
    January 1, 1970
    My new book coming out in May!
  • 11811 (Eleven)
    January 1, 1970
    The CIA has a really bad habit of recruiting double agents. It's shocking how many operations went awry because of spies we mistakenly thought were working for us. This is the fifth book I've read by Annie Jacobsen. The common theme among all of them is they are based on recently declassified information, shedding new light on stories I'm already familiar with from various history classes. This new release covers the topic of assassination and paramilitary operations from WWII to present. The na The CIA has a really bad habit of recruiting double agents. It's shocking how many operations went awry because of spies we mistakenly thought were working for us. This is the fifth book I've read by Annie Jacobsen. The common theme among all of them is they are based on recently declassified information, shedding new light on stories I'm already familiar with from various history classes. This new release covers the topic of assassination and paramilitary operations from WWII to present. The narrative primarily focuses on Billy Waugh who was involved in roughly 60 years worth of operations. The Waugh narrative makes most of the book read like an action oriented spy novel. We get to see all the sketchy stuff the U.S. was involved with in Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Central America, Cuba, Vietnam, Egypt, the Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The stories cover everything from the Kennedy assassination (weeks after Kennedy approved assassination as a political tool) to the assassinations of Che Guevara, and countless terrorists in the Middle East and Afghanistan. There's also a focus on the morality issues. What methods of murder are more acceptable than others? Is it wrong to assassinate someone at close range with a knife, but okay to take out the same person along with 50 civilian casualties with a 2,000 lbs bomb? The morality issues border on the surreal. I've read plenty of books on these topics before but this was mostly new material for me because of the recently declassified information. I think of it as "new" history. I recommend skipping your next spy novel and grabbing this instead. It's so much crazier than fiction. You won't be bored.I received a free ARC from Goodreads. This is my second ARC in a row for Jacobsen's books and I'm hoping the publisher sends me the next one, whatever it is, whenever it is released.
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Little Brown for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review| Goodreads | Blog | Twitch | Pinterest |
  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    A remarkable narrative on the history of the CIA with numerous interviews, first hand accounts and a bibliography filling several pages. If you seek an unbiased account of the shadowy world of espionage in the United States, this book delivers. Without bias or blame, the political aspect is acknowledged and given its place in the hidden hand operations of the CIA. Being a consumer of numerous spy & action books & movies, this true history of America's secret organization is remarkable an A remarkable narrative on the history of the CIA with numerous interviews, first hand accounts and a bibliography filling several pages. If you seek an unbiased account of the shadowy world of espionage in the United States, this book delivers. Without bias or blame, the political aspect is acknowledged and given its place in the hidden hand operations of the CIA. Being a consumer of numerous spy & action books & movies, this true history of America's secret organization is remarkable and fascinating.Given the subject matter, I was not surprised to shelve this one for adult readers. The content discusses killings, both the methods and actual events, as well as the sexual proclivities and cultural norms of many Middle Eastern men. Suffice it to say this is a mature audience book.*I received a free proof of this book from Goodreads giveaways*
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book as a free give-a-way from Goodreads Giveaways. I have never been disappointed by Jacobsen's writings, and this one does did not disappoint. This read was one that was hard to put down. If you're interested in paramilitary/special ops history, this book is for you!
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read, but not really anything new or surprising.
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    A few years ago I visited the memorial and what is currently occupying the small village of Lidice in the Czech Republic and learned the horrific details of an assassination of a Nazi general during WWII. Then, on another vacation trip, I visited Guatemala and our guide recounted the story of CIA action in that country during the '50s and how its resulting consequences are still being felt today. Both of these events and many others are related in this fascinating book. It finally has begun to s A few years ago I visited the memorial and what is currently occupying the small village of Lidice in the Czech Republic and learned the horrific details of an assassination of a Nazi general during WWII. Then, on another vacation trip, I visited Guatemala and our guide recounted the story of CIA action in that country during the '50s and how its resulting consequences are still being felt today. Both of these events and many others are related in this fascinating book. It finally has begun to sink in that those action/espionage/terrorist thrillers that I read have basis in fact. This country is engaged in complex, dangerous and subversive missions that create international outcomes with soul-searching ramifications. This is a long, well- written and well-documented read that has some fascinating historical stories and information about the dark world of black operations. If you are interested in the shady world of covert actions, you will be captivated by this book. If you are not, you might find your interest grows as you read this one.I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway for this honest review.
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  • Monica
    January 1, 1970
    I won this on a Goodreads Giveaway for my honest opinion.Even though it took me awhile to read, because I have been sick, it is an interesting book. A nonfiction about some of the things the CIA has done for America since its inception. Sometimes war is not the answer and the President needs another way, when this happens he calls in the CIA Paramilitary Armies. It takes you thru the 1940's up to President Trump. Is assassination right, when it's for the safety of our country? I will leave that I won this on a Goodreads Giveaway for my honest opinion.Even though it took me awhile to read, because I have been sick, it is an interesting book. A nonfiction about some of the things the CIA has done for America since its inception. Sometimes war is not the answer and the President needs another way, when this happens he calls in the CIA Paramilitary Armies. It takes you thru the 1940's up to President Trump. Is assassination right, when it's for the safety of our country? I will leave that up to the reader to decide. For me, it's a yes. If one President would have used this, would 9/11 not have happened? Again, that's the readers decision to make. Happy Reading 😊
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  • EAM
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. This book is a little like a whirlwind overview of American CIA and global political history since 1941. Jacobson's book is well researched and her writing style is clear and fast-paced. As a reader, that's exactly the kind of style you want if you're planning to get through a book that takes you through such a roller coaster ride through recent US history. Another 'pro' in this writing approach is that as a reader, the book keeps your attention. However, I will say that I had a number of m Wow. This book is a little like a whirlwind overview of American CIA and global political history since 1941. Jacobson's book is well researched and her writing style is clear and fast-paced. As a reader, that's exactly the kind of style you want if you're planning to get through a book that takes you through such a roller coaster ride through recent US history. Another 'pro' in this writing approach is that as a reader, the book keeps your attention. However, I will say that I had a number of moments as I was reading the book where I forgot the prior details in the book that led to the historical moment being I was currently reading. Jacobson does a great job of pulling together the broad overview that the book is getting at (i.e., 'the CIA's secret paramilitary units'); but even with a primary individual at the heart of the the book's narrative (William 'Billy' Waugh), it is still challenging to string together how each of the individual chapters fit together. I'm speculating here, but perhaps this feeling stems from Jacobson's background in journalism, writing shorter pieces over a period of time, but then later on figuring out how to tie all of these discrete works into one larger story creates some places where the storyline is less fluid? Others may find this style really approachable and not find fault with it - which is why I'm hesitant to rate this book any lower than 4 stars. For avid readers of American history, you are unlikely to find anything 'new' in the book as much of this history has been detailed in a myriad of previous works. For others who are less familiar with these moments in American history, this book is likely to hold some shocking surprises. I would even go as far to say that some readers could use this book as a reference book for particular moments in geopolitical history to get a better idea of the individual actors at any given moment and what were the motivating factors that got American's involved in the particular situation. I think for younger people who might not have a strong sense of the poignancy of these historical moments, this book will be especially useful in understanding how the past is shaping today's geopolitical environment. For this reason, I could certainly see myself referring to this book to glean an overview of these particular moments that I may be less familiar with and as a professor, referring my students to the book for similar reasons.
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  • Tom Callahan
    January 1, 1970
    Received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway, and very glad I did. I will enthusiastically recommend it to all of my friends!Jacobsen's book is dense, detailed and comprehensive. It is nothing short of amazing - thorough and reliable enough to be a new textbook on CIA assassination operations from World War II to the present, AND readable and engaging enough to satisfy any reader of modern espionage fiction. Though there is no doubt that this book would not have been possible without the relativel Received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway, and very glad I did. I will enthusiastically recommend it to all of my friends!Jacobsen's book is dense, detailed and comprehensive. It is nothing short of amazing - thorough and reliable enough to be a new textbook on CIA assassination operations from World War II to the present, AND readable and engaging enough to satisfy any reader of modern espionage fiction. Though there is no doubt that this book would not have been possible without the relatively recent declassification of thousands of documents, ALL of which Jacobsen studied and analyzed carefully before conducting extensive and exhaustive interviews with many of the key figures at the heart of U.S. clandestine operations for the last 50 years. Jacobsen does a fantastic job of telling the stories of these figures, as well as analyzing and explaining their successes and failures in every theater of operations from the Korean and Vietnam Wars through to the Middle East debacles and triumphs of the current era.
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  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    Per FTC rules, I received this advanced reader’s copy as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.Well-researched and, clearly, Jacobsen is a talented writer who knows how to both find and tell a good story, even if that story desires to remain hidden in secrecy and obfuscation. There are several parts of this book that I find personally frustrating from a morally pacifist perspective. And the secrecy and ‘sleight of hand’ to euphemistically refer to assassinations is the sort of devious pract Per FTC rules, I received this advanced reader’s copy as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.Well-researched and, clearly, Jacobsen is a talented writer who knows how to both find and tell a good story, even if that story desires to remain hidden in secrecy and obfuscation. There are several parts of this book that I find personally frustrating from a morally pacifist perspective. And the secrecy and ‘sleight of hand’ to euphemistically refer to assassinations is the sort of devious practice that riles the average American (in my opinion). But, I found the tale of Billy Waugh and Lew Merletti to be engaging and interesting. So, it’s a 4-star book, but only because there are some editing issues that I assume will be rectified in the May 2019 published version, e.g. misspellings, a repeated sentence in the same paragraph, other small things that detract from the immersion into the storyline.
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  • Rick Pitterle
    January 1, 1970
    Like her other offerings, this book from Annie Jacobsen does not disappoint. Exciting from start to finish and clearly well researched. I feel like I've been taken behind locked doors to get a glimpse of our government's intelligence service.My only disappointment was that, after being included in the Good Read's book description, State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research is barely mentioned. I'd like to hear more about their contribution to the intelligence community. But that is a minor poin Like her other offerings, this book from Annie Jacobsen does not disappoint. Exciting from start to finish and clearly well researched. I feel like I've been taken behind locked doors to get a glimpse of our government's intelligence service.My only disappointment was that, after being included in the Good Read's book description, State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research is barely mentioned. I'd like to hear more about their contribution to the intelligence community. But that is a minor point.This book is my favorite read of 2019 so far.
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  • Rob
    January 1, 1970
    Hard to put down, Jacobsen has done an outstanding job bringing to life historical events that are an important part of our country’s prior military operations and fight against terrorism. Jacobsen has done her homework, seeking out recently declassified material that answers a lot of questions about events that often received scant publicity at the time they happened. If the genre appeals to you – military history and the president’s secret hand used to solve international problems when diploma Hard to put down, Jacobsen has done an outstanding job bringing to life historical events that are an important part of our country’s prior military operations and fight against terrorism. Jacobsen has done her homework, seeking out recently declassified material that answers a lot of questions about events that often received scant publicity at the time they happened. If the genre appeals to you – military history and the president’s secret hand used to solve international problems when diplomacy fails and war is unrealistic – this is a great read to take to the beach.
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  • William Mehl
    January 1, 1970
    Won this on Goodreads. This non fiction book is stunning. The time and research to write this must have been unnerving.To say the least I am shocked to read about what you don't read in your local papers.Our world is on fire, and I don't believe there is a fire department big enough to put out the blaze.All I can say is to live today as if there is no tomorrow. Because there may not be one.Peace on earth goodwill to men??
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  • Sasha
    January 1, 1970
    First I would like to state that I have received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. I enjoyed the authors writing style. This book was an interesting read.
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