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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
It's not often that a political thriller is true, but Graff (The First Campaign) pieces together a gripping, cogent narrative from an immense amount of sources, including previously un-reported information. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh was infamous for being a luddite, and Graff shows how his leadership slowed intelligence operations preceding 9/11 and in what ways the agency still suffers from his tenure. Graff handles a highly complex topic with ease, tracking the ways that the FBI adapted as terrorism changed. He takes seriously even ridiculous threats, such as an absurd letter penned by a Filipino teenager and the realization that the FBI lacked a file on the Japanese cult that released sarin gas in Tokyo even though they were listed in the Manhattan phone book. Some episodes, however, are straight-out horrifying, like a discussion of the events behind a July 2001 memo's theory that terrorists were in the U.S. training at civil aviation facilities. Graff's focus, though it covers a time span from J. Edgar Hoover's death to the present day, rests particularly on the massive intelligence failures in the 10 years preceding 9/11, and after (it's fair to say we're not a whole lot safer today). Painstaking research and character studies make this an informative and exciting work.
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