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  • Published: 25 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241987025
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

The Spymaster of Baghdad

The Untold Story of the Elite Intelligence Cell that Turned the Tide against ISIS

The gripping true story of a spymaster, a bomb-maker and two brothers - one undercover in ISIS, the other his handler

The Spymaster of Baghdad is the gripping story of the Falcons: the top-secret Iraqi intelligence unit that infiltrated the Islamic State. Against the backdrop of the most brutal conflict of recent decades, we chart the spymaster's struggle to develop the unit, follow the fraught relationship of two of his agents, the al-Sudani brothers - one undercover in ISIS, the other his handler - and track a disillusioned scientist as she turns bomb-maker. 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.

  • Published: 25 February 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241987025
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

Praise for The Spymaster of Baghdad

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

Damien Lewis, bestselling author of Zero Six Bravo

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

Sinclair McKay, bestselling author of Dresden

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

Joshua C. Huminski, Director of the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence & Global Affairs at the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, Diplomatic Courier

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

Vin Arthey, Scotsman

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

George Packer, Atlantic

Fast-moving and suspenseful

Samuel Sweeney, Wall Street Journal

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

Anne Speckhard, Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE)

A thrilling and skillfully reported tale of the invisible heroes of the Iraqi fight against terrorism, that, at its heart, is a poignant story of family and sacrifice

Tamer Elnoury, covert operative and New York Times bestselling author of American Radical

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

Lindsey Hilsum, author of In Extremis

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

Peter Bergen, New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt

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

Publishers Weekly, starred review

Margaret Coker has brought to readers a gripping spy drama that doubles as a page-turning story of family and survival. A moving window into patriots who faced down terror and fought for their country

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, New York Times bestselling author of Ashley's War and The Daughters of Kobani

Margaret Coker's The Spymaster of Baghdad is a stunning and meticulous account of exceptional bravery and espionage carried out by Iraqis in the most dangerous stages of the war against ISIS. These are the type of stories we so rarely get to hear, and we are lucky to have journalists like Coker to tell them

Phil Klay, award-winning author of Redeployment and Missionaries

This gripping, eye-opening true story of a spymaster, a bomb-maker and two brothers named Harith and Munaf (one went undercover in ISIS, the other was his handler back in Baghdad) reveals the extraordinarily courageous work of Iraq's Falcons intelligence cell in infiltrating ISIS. Coker, investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist, tells a story of old-fashioned spycraft, and of home-grown heroes willing to die in the cause of saving their country from a new tyranny

Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

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