Legendary CIA agent Bob Ames to get full biography, 30 years after bombing death
Bob Ames is finally getting a book of his own.
Washington author Kai Bird, co-author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer, is turning his sights on Ames, the legendary CIA operative who died in the 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut.
Crown-Broadway paid six figures for the book, scheduled for publication on the 30th anniversary of Ames' death, according to publishing sources.
Ames was the closest thing the CIA had to James Bond, it's sometimes said. A year shy of 50 at the time of his murder, Ames makes at least a cameo appearance in most treatments of U.S. policy in the Middle East, as well as, in fictional form, the spy novels of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and others. A full treatment of him is long overdue, many say.
“Ames was the master player of the so-called ‘war of the secret services’ in Beirut, where spies and intelligence services crawled all over each other, and where nearly every shot, bomb or diplomatic move had a secondary intelligence implication,” The Post’s Bob Woodward once wrote. “In this world, survival at times meant balancing and hedging your double crosses.”
Bird says, “Ames's life and career are legendary inside the CIA. He is known for his professional spy craft, his ability to recruit agents and his commonsensical analytical skills as a briefer of Ronald Reagan. He is also known as the agency officer who established a highly valued but controversial intelligence liaison conduit to the PLO as early as 1969.”
Bird and Ames have a personal connection as well.
“I knew him as a boy in Dhahran,” said the author, 58, whose father was an American diplomat in Saudi Arabia, and, later, Beirut, where they lived in the same embassy that would be destroyed by Hezbollah terrorists.
“The last part of the book will be all about the embassy bombing,” Bird said. “I have the trial transcripts from a 2003 civil suit filed [by relatives of those killed] against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The witness testimony is very graphic, even, shall I say, cinematic.”
| November 23, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories: Entertainment, Intelligence
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