The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick


9 Critic Reviews

An alarming narrative, especially so because of its understated, never-shrill tone.


A stunning narrative account of the mysterious Jordanian who penetrated both the inner circle of al-Qaeda and the highest reaches of the CIA, with a devastating impact on the war on terror.
In December 2009, a group of the CIA’s top terrorist hunters gathered at a secret base in Khost, Afghanistan, to greet a rising superspy: Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian double-agent who infiltrated the upper ranks of al-Qaeda. For months, he had sent shocking revelations from inside the terrorist network and now promised to help the CIA assassinate Osama bin Laden’s top deputy. Instead, as he stepped from his car, he detonated a thirty-pound bomb strapped to his chest, instantly killing seven CIA operatives, the agency’s worst loss of life in decades.
In The Triple Agent, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Joby Warrick takes us deep inside the CIA’s secret war against al-Qaeda, a war that pits robotic planes and laser-guided missiles against a cunning enemy intent on unleashing carnage in American cities. Flitting precariously between the two sides was Balawi, a young man with extraordinary gifts who managed to win the confidence of hardened terrorists as well as veteran spymasters. With his breathtaking accounts from inside al-Qaeda’s lair, Balawi appeared poised to become America’s greatest double-agent in half a century—but he was not at all what he seemed. Combining the powerful momentum of Black Hawk Down with the institutional insight of Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, Warrick takes the readers on a harrowing journey from the slums of Amman to the inner chambers of the White House in an untold true story of miscalculation, deception, and revenge.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Joby Warrick

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JOBY WARRICK covers intelligence for the Washington Post, where he has been a reporter since 1996. He is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and has appeared on CNN, Fox, and PBS.
Published July 19, 2011 by Anchor. 273 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History, War, Self Help, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Aug 07 2011
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Triple Agent
All: 9 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 0



An alarming narrative, especially so because of its understated, never-shrill tone.

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Publishers Weekly

on Jun 13 2011

...a cinematic feel with suspenseful foreshadowing, rich character development—especially of the murdered agents and their families—and a remarkable amount of heart.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Joshua Sinai on Jul 25 2011

Mr. Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter for The Washington Post, adds a wealth of new detail to a narrative that reads like the best spy fiction...What follows is Mr. Warrick’s compelling tale of the clash between high expectations and deceit.

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LA Times

on Jul 16 2011

In 'The Triple Agent,' Joby Warrick offers a compelling narrative of the 2009 suicide bombing on a CIA base in Afghanistan by a purported informant who was actually an Al Qaeda operative.

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Huffington Post

Above average
on Aug 25 2011

Joby Warrick's book "The Triple Agent" contains some lessons for business leaders in his non-fiction account of a CIA intelligence operation.

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Washington Independent Review of Books


Warrick’s documentary research is extraordinary, but what elevates this book above the merely terrific is his success in tracking down and interviewing more than 200 sources...

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The National

Above average
Reviewed by Saul Austerlitz on Aug 05 2011

We read The Triple Agent on the other side of the abyss separating past from present, our knowledge of the raid on bin Laden informing our response to Warrick's narrative.

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on Jul 12 2011

I’ve never read a book like this, a detailed and compelling postmortem of an intelligence failure. In a driving narrative Warrick tells the story of how the CIA came to suffer its worst loss ever.

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on Jul 18 2011

He successfully tears back the curtain on the how the CIA conducted the operation, with graceful writing and an eye for detail.

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