At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA

George Tenet & Bill Harlow

Language: English

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: Feb 15, 2007


From Publishers Weekly

Former CIA director Tenet leaves the main vocal duties for this audio in the capable hands of Conger (who also recently narrated The Reagan Diaries). Yet in reading both the brief introduction and lengthy-but highly compelling-afterword, Tenet demonstrates a command of the spoken word that makes one wonder why he did not handle his own narration. However, the two men project a compatible style and tone, conveying deeply personal emotion within the boundaries of professionalism and decorum. Tenet does not shy away from acknowledging his own responsibility in controversies involving terrorism and the Iraq War, but he also takes several key political leaders to task for scapegoating the intelligence community in the wake of unpopular policy. The musical interludes at the start and end of each CD serve to maintain the cloak and dagger ambience. Those who prefer to skim the surface of news events may find the length taxing, but listeners ready to move beyond the headlines and into a wider world of nuanced complexity will be more than satisfied.
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Tenet, former director of the CIA, has finally delivered his long-anticipated book. It was supposed to provide background and insight into the events of September 11 as well as the lead-up (and fall down) of the Iraq War. But most readers will find that Tenet's hodgepodge of facts tangled with homey anecdotes, excuses, and mea culpas will leave them as confused as ever. Alternately presenting himself as the folksy Greek American kid from Queens and the high-charging power broker, Tenet is proud of the many things the CIA did right under his charge, such as disrupting terrorist attacks leading up to 9/11 (while, of course, missing the big one), and he writes feverishly about successes in Afghanistan and elsewhere during the trying months afterward. The book is at its best painting just how dangerous, confusing, and exhausting those days were. Then comes the distraction from terrorism that was Iraq, and according to Tenet, common purpose disappeared in Washington, and interagency warfare reigned. Cheney comes out looking bad, and Rice worse, but much of the blame for the ill-preparedness goes to the slightly lower-level neocons: Wolfowitz, Libby, et al. As for the president, Tenet likes him––a lot. But in a telling few pages, Bush keeps trying to get neocon favorite Ahmed Chalabi off the payroll, and no one pays a bit of attention to him. Turning these pages is like walking through mirrors. Cooper, Ilene
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