three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Body of LiesAs Suleiman, a master al Qaeda terrorist, plants car bombs all over Western Europe, CIA agent Roger Ferris tries to penetrate his cell and capture or kill him. His personal mantra: "This is a war. … You are a soldier. More people will die unless you do your job." Adopting tactics based on deceptions that the British used against the Nazis during World War II, Ferris tries to turn the terrorists against each other. But certain complications impede his mission, including his failing marriage, his delicate relationship with the chief of Jordanian intelligence, and his attraction to a woman who works for a humanitarian organization in Amman. As Ferris risks his life, he questions his beliefs, his morality, and his life’s mission.
Norton. 349 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0393065030

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"Ignatius is Suleiman’s John le Carré. … He skillfully creates the sights and sounds and emotions of wartime Middle East, and its deceptions and desires, taking us on a tour from Jordan to Iraq to Germany to Turkey and Washington even as he pulls us deeper into Ferris’ anti-terrorist scheme and deeper into Ferris’ life and desires." Alan Cheuse

Washington Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Unlike most of the folks writing fiction about the CIA these days, [Ignatius] understands the gestalt of the place and the internal and external pressure under which the agency’s denizens operate. … Indeed, given the history of America’s recent misadventures in the region, one can only hope they make Body of Lies required reading at the NSC and CIA." John Weisman

Wall Street Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Ignatius takes a dim view of U.S. efforts to fight the current war. … Yet when the author sticks to the Middle East and sinister doings there, the clever, well-paced Body of Lies is hard to put down." John J. Miller

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"At times, Ignatius seems almost embarrassed that his villain is an actual Arab terrorist (albeit one with a high IQ and a warped sense of morality), but he needn’t be: His portrayal of the Arab world is sensitive, and no one is going to confuse David Ignatius of The Post with the overnight man on Fox News. … The book works extremely well, and its imagery and characters linger in the memory." Adrian McKinty

St. Petersburg Times 3 of 5 Stars
"When it comes to the apparently obligatory love story, Ignatius falls into the same trap that snared so many of his predecessors … creating female characters and romantic relationships that trade on the most cartoonish of stereotypes. … The critique of American policies in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East is none too subtle … but it also makes a great deal of sense, coming from this superbly sourced journalist turned novelist." John Fleming

Critical Summary

David Ignatius, journalist and author of Agents of Innocence, has used his vast knowledge of Middle Eastern politics to write one of the most compelling post-9/11 spy thrillers. While creating psychologically deep characters and painting rich portraits of life in Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, he narrates a fast-paced search for a terrorist. A few critics noted, however, that Ignatius bends over backwards not to stereotype his Arab characters (most are wise; few are anti-Semitic), while blatantly criticizing American foreign affairs. Despite these flaws, "One hopes that he has another book in the planning stage and is already filling in form DS-4085, requesting yet more visa pages for his well-worn passport" (Washington Post).