Looking for U.S.-Pak Background Reading? Try 'Bloodmoney'

Bloodmoney.jpgYes, yes, you should read all the first-rate newspaper and journal and online entries you can find about the tangled relationships among the United States, Pakistan, the CIA, Pakistan's ISI, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Tehrik-i Taliban in Pakistan, et cetera.

But if you would like to see those same themes explored in a very accomplished spy thriller, look for Bloodmoney, by David Ignatius, whose official publication date is a few weeks away but which, if the publisher has its wits about it, should be hustling toward the bookstores at this instant. Ignatius (disclosure: a longtime friend of mine, who doesn't know I am writing this, or even that I've read this book) has in his day-job incarnation been a reporter, editor, and in recent years a columnist for the Washington Post. He has also over the past quarter-century written what is now quite a long series of elegant spy fiction. To mention only a few of the best known: Agents of Innocence, his first; Body of Lies, made into a Leonardo DiCaprio-Russell Crowe-Ridley Scott movie; and the recent The Increment, which assumed great roman a clef significance when news of the Stuxnet virus and its effect on Iran's nuclear program was revealed.

This new book is not about the hunt for bin Laden. But a lot of it is set in Pakistan, and all of it concerns the ways in which the Pakistani and American intelligence services trust and mistrust each other -- and the things they conceal, reveal, and misleadingly disclose. When writing the book Ignatius could not have guessed the way the news of this week would heighten interest in exactly that relationship. But it has, and you won't regret spending time with Bloodmoney.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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