'Pulse-pounding' Sinclair McKay | 'Truly masterful' Damien Lewis | 'Who needs spy fiction, when fact can provide as thrilling a story as this?' Lindsey Hilsum
The Spymaster of Baghdad is the gripping story of the top-secret Iraqi intelligence unit that infiltrated the Islamic State. More so than that of any foreign power, the information they gathered turned the tide against the insurgency, paving the way to the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019.
Against the backdrop of the most brutal conflict of recent decades, we chart the spymaster's struggle to develop the unit from scratch in challenging circumstances after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, we follow the fraught relationship of two of his agents, the al-Sudani brothers - one undercover in ISIS for sixteen long months, the other his handler - and we track a disillusioned scientist as she turns bomb-maker, threatening the lives of thousands.
With unprecedented access to characters on all sides, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Margaret Coker challenges the conventional view that Western coalition forces defeated ISIS and reveals a page-turning story of unlikely heroes, unbelievable courage and good old-fashioned spycraft.
'Moving, visceral, utterly revelatory. A stunning tour de force by an author who has lived every word of it on the ground' Damien Lewis, author of Zero Six Bravo
'This compelling account of how Iraqi agents infiltrated ISIS takes us deep beneath the lurid headlines and into a sharply focused world of courage, ingenuity, terror and love' Sinclair McKay, author of Dresden
'In Margaret Coker's deeply reported, unputdownable account, the previously unknown Iraqi heros of the war against the Islamic State turn out to be braver than Bond and as subtle as Smiley' Lindsey Hilsum, author of In Extremis
'We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Falcons Unit for their important role in the fight against the most lethal terrorist group of our time' Anne Speckhard, Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism
Authentic, moving, visceral, chilling, utterly revelatory, truly masterful. A stunning tour de force by an author who has lived every word of it on the ground. A story of our time that absolutely needs to be told
Searing, pulse-pounding, yet also acutely human, this compelling account of how Iraqi agents infiltrated ISIS takes us deep beneath the lurid Baghdad and Mosul headlines and into a sharply focused world of courage, ingenuity, terror and love. This is not just a story of dry-mouthed espionage, but also of its profound repercussions upon loved ones and family; the intense struggle to live in peace in a land where extremists of all varieties seek to bring death. Greatly illuminating and powerful
Coker's book would do John le Carré - and undoubtedly any number of Operations Officers - proud for her treatment of the role, value, and challenges of human intelligence and agent running. This book is not about the high-tech gadgetry of surveillance drones, signals intercepts, or cyber intelligence, though all three play a role in this story. It is about the unrivaled value of the man or woman on-the-ground or in the loop with access to the information. It is about the delicate art of handling a source, an agent, or an informant
This eye-opening account of the Iraqi intelligence unit which infiltrated Islamic State may read like a thriller, yet it is also grounded in the experiences of everyday Iraqis . . . a unique masterpiece in the genres of espionage writing and spy biography
Margaret Coker, formerly of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, continued to cover Iraq after most of the American press corps had moved on; she has produced a gripping new book about the shadow war between Iraqi intelligence officers and the Islamic State, The Spymaster of Baghdad . . . Her subject is an elite Iraqi espionage unit called "the Falcons," composed of ordinary men who helped save their country from the onslaught of ISIS. Coker's reporting on these men, their families, and the family of a young woman recruited by terrorists is so meticulous that it lets her enter invisibly a closed, sometimes frightening world and portray it with cinematic detail
Fast-moving and suspenseful
Who needs spy fiction, when fact can provide as thrilling a story as this? In Margaret Coker's deeply reported, unputdownable account, the previously unknown Iraqi heros of the war against the Islamic State turn out to be braver than Bond and as subtle as Smiley. Until this book, we had no idea how much we owe the spymaster of Baghdad and his operatives
A fascinating, character-driven chronicle of the battle against al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq . . . Coker ties the threads of the narrative together in a gripping and well-crafted conclusion worthy of a spy novel . . . A dramatic and edifying must-read for espionage fans and anyone interested in Middle Eastern affairs
The Spymaster of Baghdad is the amazing true story of the secret war against ISIS in Iraq, which Margaret Coker tells with great verve and authority
A heartbreaking and courageous story of the secretive Iraqi Falcons intelligence unit . . . well worth reading and sharing with the entire world. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Abu Ali Al-Basri and the Iraqi Falcons Unit for their important role in the fight against the most lethal terrorist group of our time