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  • Surprise, Kill, Vanish

  • The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins
  • Written by: Annie Jacobsen
  • Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen
  • Length: 19 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (265 ratings)

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Surprise, Kill, Vanish

Written by: Annie Jacobsen
Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen
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Publisher's Summary

Surprise...your target. Kill...your enemy. Vanish...without a trace.

From Pulitzer Prize finalist Annie Jacobsen, the untold story of the CIA's secret paramilitary units.

When diplomacy fails and war is unwise, the president calls on the CIA's Special Activities Division, a highly classified branch of the CIA and the most effective black-operations force in the world. Originally known as the president's guerrilla warfare corps, SAD conducts risky and ruthless operations that have evolved over time to defend America from its enemies. Almost every American president since World War II has asked the CIA to conduct sabotage, subversion, and yes, assassination.

With unprecedented access to 42 men and women who proudly and secretly worked on CIA covert operations from the dawn of the Cold War to the present day, along with declassified documents and deep historical research, Pulitzer Prize finalist Annie Jacobsen unveils—like never before—a complex world of individuals working in treacherous environments populated with killers, connivers, and saboteurs. Despite Hollywood notions of off-book operations and external secret hires, covert action is actually one piece in a colossal foreign policy machine.

Written with the pacing of a thriller, Surprise, Kill, Vanish brings to vivid life the sheer pandemonium and chaos, as well as the unforgettable human will to survive and the intellectual challenge of not giving up hope that define paramilitary and intelligence work. Jacobsen's exclusive interviews—with members of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service (equivalent to the Pentagon's generals), its counterterrorism chiefs, targeting officers, and Special Activities Division's Ground Branch operators who conduct today's close-quarters killing operations around the world—reveal, for the first time, the enormity of this shocking, controversial, and morally complex terrain. Is the CIA's paramilitary army America's weaponized strength or a liability to its principled standing in the world?

Every operation reported in this audiobook, however unsettling, is legal.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Annie Jacobsen (P)2019 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"Jacobsen here presents a tour de force exploring the CIA's paramilitary activities...this excellent work feels like uncovering the tip of the iceberg. VERDICT: Highly recommended for those seeking a better understanding of American foreign policy in action."—Jacob Sherman, Library Journal
"A behind-the-scenes look at the most shadowy corners of the American intelligence community...Well-sourced and well-paced, this book is full of surprises."—Kirkus
"Having already demonstrated her remarkable aptitude for unearthing government secrets in books like Area 51 (2011) and The Pentagon's Brain (2015), Jacobsen pulls back the curtain on the history of covert warfare and state sanctioned assassinations from WWII to the present...Jacobsen's work revealing a poorly understood but essential slice of warfare history belongs in every library collection."—Booklist

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What listeners say about Surprise, Kill, Vanish

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Amazing, insightful, well researched.

This I would guess to be only a sliver of the truth. But its a good one.

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Amazing

Enthralling, the author tells you how world politics actually function behind the mass media narrative

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  • ZT
  • 2021-04-28

amazing

very interesting, great history. Billy is a stud. CIA is crazy! wish there were more like this

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Intéressant

Récit très interessant et bien ficelé dans le temps. Une prise de conscience de latitude des opérations secrètes. La pointe du iceberg.

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Excellent book.

Intriging from start to finish. I've never read a book that has peaked my interest as much as this one has.

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interesting

I liked it and liked how the author was also the narrator; she owned it. seemed like a lot of research was completed for the book and like hearing stories like this about hero's that aren't spoke of.

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one of her best so far

amazing listen. her knowledge and passion for the subject is amazing. this is right up there with operation paperclip and area 51. just fantastic.

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Great first listen!

This was the first book I’ve listened to on audible and it was overall a great listen. Even though it was a little bit bland at times it was still a great book. Highly recommend for anyone who is interested in the secret lives of the men and women in the CIA!

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Excellent read of recent history

I really enjoyed this book including the authors narrative. A lot didn’t surprise me but it sure made me think about what is possible and what really happened.

Great

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Check out the author. She is a wonderful woman.

I loved it. Considering it did not only lay with one organization, she visits a variety with explanations to basic understanding. You can tell she is passionate about her work and actually does tons of hrs of research and firs hand accounts of some specific events! Loved the book, lover her. Be great to each other and stay safe!

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