Did you see Syriana? Well, Clooney’s character is allegedly based on Baer. If that’s true, it doesn’t seem to be a very accurate portrayal. What I got out of this book was not the story of a good solider who believed in democracy and was thwarted by dark forces in Washington. I got the story of a C.I.A. cowboy who most likely did more harm than good in the region and was thwarted in his attempts at further meddling in the Middle East by the incompetence of the suits at Langley.
This books isn’t Syriana. It’s a memoir of one operative’s time in the Middle East, and is more about bragging and settling scores than anything else.*
However, I still think it’s worth reading. Baer’s recollections of Lebanon during the civil war and his story of getting knifed at the end of his career in Washington is probably a pretty accurate story of how forces in Washington move against each other. This is a quick read, and worth it I think if you’re interested in the region or the C.I.A.
Recommended for the enthusiast
*and it is a little beyond me why Sy Hersh wrote the introduction, but whatever.