A Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter’s explosive account of the transformation of the CIA and America’s special forces into competing covert manhunting and killing operationsthe new American way of war
Osama bin Laden’s demise was merely one sensational moment in the first decade of America’s shadow war, the transformation of the national security apparatus into a machine calibrated for manhunting operations. Beyond the big wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq, America has pursued its enemies with killer robots and special operations troops; trained privateers for assassination missions and used them to set up clandestine spying networks; and relied on mercurial dictators, unreliable foreign intelligence services, and ragtag proxy armies. The shadow war has blurred the lines between soldiers and spies, lowered the bar for waging war around the globe, and changed for good how America fights its battles: This is the new way of war. A new military-intelligence complex has emerged.
The CIA, created as a Cold War espionage service, is now more than ever a paramilitary agency ordered by the White House to kill off America’s enemies: from the sustained bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan and the deserts of Yemen and North Africa to the simmering clan wars in Somalia. For its part, the Pentagon has turned into the CIA, dramatically expanding spying missions in the dark spaces of U.S. foreign policy, like Iran. The countries where radical groups have carved out wide, remote swaths of territory are often the very places most openly hostile to American intervention. Where the soldiers can’t go, the United States sends drones, proxies, and guns for hire.
Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Mazzetti examines these secret wars over the past decade, tracking key characters from the intelligence and military communities across the world. Among the characters we meet in The Way of the Knife are a young CIA officer dropped into the tribal areas to learn the hard way how the spy games in Pakistan are played, an Air Force test pilot who fired the first drone missile in the Nevada desert, a chain-smoking Pentagon official who ran an off-the-books spying operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a woman from the horse country of Virginia who became obsessed with Somalia and convinced the Pentagon to hire her to gather intelligence about al Qaeda operatives there. Gripping, newsbreaking, and powerfully told, The Way of the Knife reveals the true nature of American warfare in the twenty-first centurya model that is here to stay.
""The story of how the CIA got back into the killing business is as chilling and dramatic as a spy novel--except it’s true. Mark Mazzetti has laid out an extraordinary tale, tracking the spies as they track the terrorists. The Way of the Knife is as close as you'll ever get to the real thing.""
—Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War
""The Way of the Knife provides a stunning, inside account of the CIA's transformation after 9/11 from an intelligence agency into a global clandestine killing machine. Mazzetti, who is one of America's best national security reporters, has written a frightening, must-read book.""
—Jane Mayer, staff writer, The New Yorker; author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
""The United States fought three wars after 9/11: Iraq, Afghanistan and the one in the shadows. This is an authoritative account of that that third war, conducted by the CIA and military Special Operators in Yemen, East Africa and, most of all, Pakistan. If you want to understand the world we live in, you need to read it.""
—Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Generals