36 Non-Fiction Books about the CIA: Memoirs of Former Agents, Spies, and Espionage

Below we've compiled 36 best nonfiction books about the CIA that look at different aspects of the agency's history and daily operations. These best CIA books cover everything from memoirs by former agents to spy novels, as well as how-to guides on getting into the agency itself.

Whether you want to learn about interrogations or what it's like being a field officer in Afghanistan, these best nonfiction books will be sure to satisfy your curiosity!

If you're an aspiring CIA agent or just someone who wants to know more about the world of espionage and intelligence, then this list is for you.

Nonfiction CIA Books

1. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden

Ghost Wars

Written by: Steve Coll

Published: February 23rd, 2004

Pages: 695

It describes how the United States came to build up its defense intelligence presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan after 1979 when Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. He examines how the CIA funded an underground battle against the Soviets. He believes that this is one of the main reasons Bin Laden came to power.

Last but not least, he exposes how the CIA continues to make massive mistakes by the war on terror. Some of these issues look into how it failed so miserably to learn about the 9/11 attacks and more. In 2004, it won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

>> More about the Afghanistan War

2. All the President's Men

All the President's Men

Written by: Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Published: 1974

Pages: 349

All the President's Men is a book about the Watergate scandal, a major political scandal in the United States during the early 1970s. The book was written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two journalists who covered the story for The Washington Post.

The book chronicles the events leading up to and following the break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.

It explores how U.S. President Richard Nixon's administration became involved in an extensive cover-up of its involvement; it provides critical insight into events that led to Nixon's resignation under threat of being impeached for his role in obstructing justice within government.

The book is a bestseller and adapted into a film of the same name.

>> More books about Watergate

>> More books about Watergate

3. The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War

Written by: Antonio Mendez

Published: May 21st, 2019

Pages: 272

This book is a riveting account of the author's time as a CIA operative in Moscow. Mendez provides detailed descriptions of the various cases he worked on, including one of the most important to gain information on the Soviets starting in 1976.

Being that he knew that everything he did was being monitored, he designed new tactics for the CIA to use against the Russians. Using forgery, evasion, swapping his identity with others, and more, he could get information that was incredibly useful then and is even more critical in today's world.

>> More books about the Cold War

4. Legacy Of Ashes: The History Of The Central Intelligence Agency

Legacy Of Ashes

Written by: Tim Weiner

Published: July 1st, 2007

Pages: 702

Weiner's Legacy of Ashes is a comprehensive history of the CIA, from its inception to today. The book draws on extensive interviews with current and former CIA officers and declassified documents.

Weiner provides a detailed portrait of the agency's successes and failures and offers insights into the inner workings of the CIA. He also includes an assessment of the agency's impact on American politics and foreign policy.

Legacy of Ashes is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the CIA.

5. A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency

A look over my shoulder

Written by: Richard Helms

Published: April 8th, 2003

Pages: 496

Richard Helms, the director of central intelligence from 1966 to 1973, recounts his career in the CIA in this 2003 memoir. During World War II, he joined the agency and worked his way up through the ranks, becoming Deputy Director for Plans in 1962.

As director of central intelligence, he oversaw Operation Chaos (a program that spied on Americans), the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and Operation Phoenix.

Helms was ultimately convicted of perjury for lying to Congress about the CIA's role in Watergate, but he maintains his innocence to this day.

6. Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What's Worth Fighting For

Breaking Cover

Written by: Michele Rigby Assad

Published: February 6th, 2018

Pages: 272

Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What's Worth Fighting For is an autobiography of a woman who joined the agency early in her career. The author walks us through all aspects of life within the walls of Langley, VA.

Some of these include the best and worst parts of working for the CIA, which deals with bureaucracy and getting lost in translation between management and field agents. She states her biggest fear of being "outed" as a spy once she returns to civilian life after years away from home on secret missions overseas.

This memoir takes us through Assad's real-life experiences as a CIA Operations Officer and the lessons she learned about herself, her country, and what is worth fighting for.

7. Seconds to Live or Die: Life-Saving Lessons from a Former CIA Officer

Seconds to Live or Die

Written by: Robert Montgomery

Published: August 18th, 2020

Pages: 278

This book is a memoir by Robert Montgomery. He gives the reader life-saving lessons from his years of service with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Each chapter deals with an essential aspect in which the author learned to protect himself and others best, such as avoiding enemy surveillance or how to survive when forced into hand-to-hand combat.

Montgomery also provides an inside perspective on the workings of the CIA, including operations in which he was involved. He shares personal stories about his time as a field operative and how he managed to stay alive in some of the most dangerous places in the world. This book is a fascinating look at what it takes to be a CIA officer and the many dangers they face daily.

8. CIA 101: A Crash Course in Agency Case Officers

CIA 101: A Crash Course in Agency Case Officers

Written by: Professor Millick

Published: November 15th, 2020

Pages: 186

CIA 101 is a book about the CIA written by Professor Millick. It is a crash course in Agency case officers and their work. The book provides an overview of the different aspects of the CIA, including its history, structure, functions, and operations.

It also discusses some of the challenges and opportunities that case officers face in their work. This book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the CIA and its operations. It is a must-read for anyone interested in becoming a case officer or working with the CIA.

9. American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate, and Beyond

American Spy

Written by: E. Howard Hunt, Greg Aunapu

Published: February 1st, 2007

Pages: 352

Take a step behind the scenes on what really happens inside the CIA. Author E. Howard Hunt tells you about his life working with the CIA in the White House. 

You'll read stories about how the CIA manipulated the media both in American and around the world. You'll also find out more about what happened during Watergate and so much more. It's one of the best CIA books for those interested in the history of this important organization and how they work.

10. The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA

The Master of Disguise

Written by: Antonio Mendez

Published: October 20th, 1999

Pages: 368

The Master of Disguise is a book by Antonio Mendez, an ex-CIA agent. He has done countless missions for over twenty years and is one of the most decorated agents in the CIA. In his memoir, he tells about how to be best at disguises and the best ways to give the misinformation and manipulate people into believing you have been someone that you haven't been.

This book provides a look into the mechanics of being a spy and the psychological aspects necessary for success. It’s an exciting read for anyone who wants to know more about what happens behind the scenes in the world of espionage. Mendez is an excellent storyteller and provides a lot of detail in his writing, making the reader feel as if they are right there alongside him on his missions.

11. See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism

See No Evil

Written By: Robert Baer

Published: January 17th, 2002

Pages: 275

This book tells an incredible story about how dangerous it can be to work as an undercover officer in the Middle East. Author Robert Baer was a CIA Operative that worked for years in the Middle East. 

He talks about how he saw the rise of terrorism over his years in the CIA and how the US government didn't respond to it appropriately. He also writes about what he saw that led up to 9/11. 

It's an inside look at how terrorism works and the CIA's response to it.

12. Left of Boom: How a Young CIA Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda

Left of Boom

Written by: Douglas Laux

Published: April 5th, 2016

Pages: 320

Doug Laux tells the story of his time as a case officer in the CIA, from his initial application and training process to his deployment to Afghanistan. As a young agent, he did everything he had to do in order to infiltrate the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. You'll read about how he used his skills to learn the local dialect, make friends with the enemy, and more.

He also offers an inside look at the workings of the CIA and its operations in Afghanistan, describing both the successes and failures of their efforts against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Left of Boom is a story of perseverance and determination, detailing the author’s journey from his first application to the CIA through years in Afghanistan working alongside tribal leaders.

The book offers a detailed history of events in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009 during Laux's service there, including material on Bin Laden's death and other prominent terrorist figures taken out by U.S. forces. Laux describes the tense moments of capture and escape, as well as his struggles with PTSD. 

13. The Craft of Intelligence: America’s Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World

The Craft of Intelligence

Written by: Allen Dulles

Published: 1962

Pages: 304

This bestselling book has been in print for over fifty years and is the only intelligence guide by a former CIA chief. It’s an ideal self-defense manual against spies, terrorists, and other adversaries – both real and imagined!

This classic work describes how one can become accustomed to thinking like a spy while still leading an everyday life. Author Allen Dulles was the first civilian Director of Central Intelligence to lead up America’s best-known spy agency from 1953 to 1961. In this book, Dulles details how his time in Switzerland was spying on Germany during World War I prepared him for life’s later challenges.

>> More about World War I

14. Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins

Surprise, Kill, Vanish

Written by: Annie Jacobsen

Published: May 14th, 2019

Pages: 560

This latest work tells the story of the CIA's paramilitary armies, operators, and assassins from World War II to the present day. The author interviewed more than 40 people for this project - many of whom have never spoken publicly about their roles in these top-secret operations. Jacobsen provides readers with an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the CIA, from its earliest days of espionage to the War on Terror.

This is an excellent book for those interested in learning about the CIA's secret history and paramilitary operations. It provides detailed information on everything from the Bay of Pigs Invasion to the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. However, it is not a light read - be prepared for plenty of detail and lots of names and acronyms. If you're looking for an overview of the CIA's covert operations, this is the book for you.

15. Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA

Life Undercover

Written by: Amaryllis Fox

Published: October 15th, 2019

Pages: 240

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA is a memoir by Amaryllis Fox, an ex-CIA case officer, and former counterterrorism director at the U.S. National Security Council.

This autobiography tells her life as a young woman working for the world's most secretive organization, including her training in Langley and experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Fox offers readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the CIA, describing the challenges and stresses of undercover work as well as the camaraderie among case officers. She also provides an insightful commentary on the War on Terror and the Obama presidency.

16. The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World

Written by: Douglas Valentine

Published: November 18th, 2016

Pages: 446

The book discusses how the CIA engages in illegal operations that corrupt America and the world. These illicit operations include drug trafficking, money laundering, and torture. The book also provides an overview of the history of the CIA and its involvement with drug trafficking.

The book describes how the United States became a center for illegal narcotics trafficking after World War II, which led to America's first intervention in Latin American politics. This was partly so U.S. corporations could exert control over countries in Latin America, which they could exploit for economic gain.

Valentine then goes into describing the CIA's involvement in Vietnam and how their use of Air America, a front company, contributed significantly to making Laos "the world's largest source of opium and heroin." Valentine also discusses how the CIA has been involved with drug trafficking from Central America to Afghanistan. The book also provides an overview of the history of the CIA and its involvement with torture. Valentine argues that the CIA's use of torture has been ineffective and only serves to corrupt America and the world.

17. The Devil's Chessboard

The Devil's Chessboard

Written by: David Talbot

Published:  October 13th, 2015

Pages: 704

This is an explosive, headline-making portrait of Allen Dulles, the man who transformed the CIA from a quaint Cold War agency into a ruthless global power player.

Drawing on extensive research, Talbot reveals that Dulles was instrumental in the rise of the Nazis and their Third Reich and helped create the Cold War and advance America's nuclear ambitions.

Dulles was a master spy who manipulated the media, covertly influenced elections, and even orchestrated coups worldwide.

His actions led to innocent people's deaths and helped usher in an era of widespread wiretapping, government secrecy, and paranoia.

The Devil's Chessboard is a remarkable reckoning with one of America's most powerful and troubling figures—and the dark secrets that still lie at the heart of our national security state.

18. A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

A Spy Among Friends

Written by: Ben Macintyre

Published: July 29th, 2014

Pages: 368

A Spy Among Friends is a book by Ben Macintyre about the life of Kim Philby, a British traitor who worked as a spy for the Soviet Union. The book tells the story of Philby’s life and his betrayal of Britain and its allies. It also includes interviews with people who knew Philby, including former CIA director Richard Helms.

This is an excellent book about espionage and betrayal during the Cold War between Russia and Britain. It details how another country’s intelligence agency can recruit a spy. It also goes into how his best friend and MI6 agent, Nicholas Elliot, was betrayed by him and yet continued to believe him until the very end…with horrible consequences that reached around the world.

Critics have praised A Spy Among Friends, and it received several awards, including the 2014 Costa Book Award for best biography or memoir.

19. The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

The Spy and the Traitor

Written by: Ben Macintyre

Published: September 18th, 2018

Pages: 384

This is the second book on the list written by Ben Macintyre. The story of Oleg Gordievsky, a senior KGB officer who became a double agent for MI-Six, and his handler, Tony Smart. Gordievsky provided MI-Six with invaluable information about Soviet intelligence operations during the Cold War. However, as his cover began to unravel, Gordievsky was forced to flee to the West, where he lived in hiding for many years. The Spy and the Traitor is a thrilling account of one of the essential espionage operations of the Cold War.

It also delves into the CIA's knowledge of the traitor, but it is impossible to find out who he was since MI6 would not divulge it. Through diligence and spying, the CIA realized Aldrich Ames spied for the Soviets for over 20 years.

This book provides a fascinating insight into the world of Soviet intelligence during the Cold War. It is well-written and suspenseful, and the reader is taken on a journey through some of the most critical events in recent history. We recommend this book to anyone interested in espionage, international relations, and Cold War history.

20. The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War--a Tragedy in Three Acts

The Quiet Americans

Written by: Scott Anderson

Published: September 1st 2020

Pages: 562

The Quiet Americans is a book about four CIA spies during the beginning of the Cold War and the ten years after it. It tells the story of their successes and failures and how their actions affected both their personal lives and the course of history. Anderson does a great job of humanizing these spies and provides a detailed, well-researched account of their stories. This is an excellent read for anyone interested in American history, espionage, and intelligence gathering.

These four agents have very different stories since they were at varying levels of the CIA and worked in other parts of the world. It is incredibly powerful to read about how these changed their views about their jobs, what they had accomplished, and where they had failed.

21. The Good Spy

The Good Spy

Written by: Kai Bird

Published: May 20th, 2014

Pages: 448

The Good Spy tells the story of Robert Ames, a career CIA officer who was killed in a bombing in 1983. Ames was known for building relationships with key players in the Middle East, and he played a critical role in U.S. efforts to broker peace between Israel and Egypt. The book paints a portrait of Ames as a passionate and idealistic man who found himself in some questionable situations. 

The book also explores the life of Ali Hassan Salameh—one of Ames' friends and a key figure in Black September—who orchestrated several terrorist attacks against Israel before Israeli agents assassinated him in 1979.

The Good Spy is a bestseller praised for its nuanced portrait of Ames and how he navigated his complicated relationships with American, Palestinian, and Israeli friends. It was selected as one of Newsweek's best books on foreign policy from 2014, named the best book of the year by The Economist, and awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography.

22. The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal Kindle Edition

The Billion Dollar Spy

Written by: David E. Hoffman

Published: July 7th, 2015

Pages: 336

Adolf Tolkachev was a Soviet engineer designing radars at the Russian military technology institute called Phazotron. While working for the Russians, he secretly gave information to the CIA between 1977 and 1985 that eventually helped American pilots avoid being shot down over Russia during the war with Afghanistan. Tolkachev also provided information about the new MiG-29 fighter jet and the Soviet Union’s plans to build a submarine-launched nuclear missile.

The CIA was so impressed with Tolkachev’s information that they decided to make him a spy and began to smuggle out documents and equipment for him to photograph.

The Billion Dollar Spy is an account of how Hoffman, together with other members of the CIA, uncovered the real identity of Tolkachev. His code name was “the billion-dollar spy” because that’s what it cost the U.S. to use his intelligence. It tells the incredible, true story of one man’s courage in the face of impossible odds and his commitment to helping defeat the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The book has been called “a superb work of espionage history” by the Wall Street Journal, “riveting” by Publisher’s Weekly.

23. Nuking the Moon: And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots left on the Drawing Board

Nuking the Moon

Written by: Vince Houghton

Published: May 14th, 2019

Pages: 302

This book is about the top-secret CIA projects that were never carried out. It includes various schemes, from assassinating Fidel Castro to detonating a nuclear bomb on the moon. Each chapter covers a different topic, and Houghton provides in-depth research and interesting anecdotes about each one. Some other ideas include an aircraft carrier that was indestructible and built by the British. That doesn't sound so weird…other than it was supposedly made out of an iceberg!

Overall, this book is a fascinating read and provides a unique glimpse into the world of CIA planning. It's interesting to see what could have been had these schemes been carried out. However, it's also sobering to think about the potential consequences of such actions. If you're interested in espionage and covert operations, then Nuking the Moon is a book you'll want to check out.

>> More books about the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project

24. Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace

Mary's Mosaic

Written by: Peter Janney

Published: 2009

Pages:  576

This book tells the story of Mary Pinchot Meyer, a painter and socialite in Washington D.C., and her relationship with John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. After JFK's assassination, Mary was killed by an unknown assailant, and her death has been the subject of much speculation over the years. Peter Janney presents the theory that agents of the CIA murdered Mary. They were angered at her relationship with Kennedy and fearful of what she had learned about "Operation Mongoose," a secret campaign to assassinate Fidel Castro.

The head of this project was none other than Cord Meyer, Mary's ex-husband. Janney also presents evidence suggesting that JFK may have planned to end the Vietnam War, which would have been a significant blow to the CIA's interests.

This book is well-researched and provides a detailed account of Mary Meyer's life and death. It makes for an exciting read, even if one doesn't believe in the theory that the CIA murdered her. Janney used records from the U.S. Army and other respected institutions to explore this case. Anyone reading the description would think it is fiction, but it isn’t.

25. Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant: Undercover & Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and Mother

Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant

Written by: Lillian McCloy

Published: July 9th, 2016

Pages: 252

Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant is the memoir of Lillian McCloy, a woman who married into the CIA. As a stay-at-home mom raising three kids in Northern Virginia, she had no idea what her husband did for a living until he was outed as a covert agent in the Iran hostage crisis. Her husband was in the CIA, she and her children traveled everywhere with him. This book tells the story of her life as a CIA wife from the inside out.

Although McCloy was not involved in covert operations herself, she describes how it felt to live with the constant knowledge that something could happen at any moment and change everything.

She writes about developing friendships within other spy families who understood what it meant to be living a double life while hiding the truth from the neighbors. She also writes about their time where they would drink heavily to forget their issues and fall into depressions while trying to keep smiling for all their friends. Their life was anything but the stylish James Bond-style depictions often shown on tv or in the movies.

26. The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton

The Ghost

Written by: Jefferson Morley

Published: 2013

Pages: 352

Angleton was known for his extreme secrecy and paranoia, which led him to create several surveillance programs, including more than 500 wiretaps on American citizens. He had hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail opened that belonged to U.S. citizens. He did his best to stop the investigation into John F. Kennedy’s assignation and so much more. He had the CIA constantly spy on the anti-war movements and the African Americans trying to fight for their civil rights. It is almost impossible to explain how much havoc, and possible deaths, Angleton caused in his lifetime.

Angleton originally joined the CIA in 1947 and was best known for his efforts to stop Soviet penetration of the CIA - which he believed existed after working with Kim Philby, who defected to Russia from British Intelligence on January 11, 1963.

Morley's best-selling book was published on October 18, 2013, by Simon & Schuster. It is the first significant biography of Angleton written with full cooperation from his family and critical former CIA officers who worked closely with him. The book has been praised by Angleton's friends and family, who say it provides a balanced portrait of the complex spymaster.

27. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth

The Way of the Knife

Written by: Mark Mazzetti

Published: April 9th, 2013

Pages: 381

The Way of the Knife is an incredible book about the CIA by Mark Mazzetti. It was published in 2013. The book chronicles the modern history of the CIA, from its origins after World War II to its role in the War on Terror. Mazzetti paints a portrait of an agency that has become ever more reliant on and tolerant of "cutthroat" covert action.

The Way of the Knife is an in-depth exploration of the inner workings of America's most secretive institution. Mazzetti provides a unique and unprecedented look at the CIA's covert operations, as well as its impact on global politics. He discusses the dramatic changes at the CIA since September 11, 2001, and how these changes affected U.S. foreign policy decisions on a worldwide scale.

Some of these include assassinations, drone warfare, and other ways of dealing with political issues at this point and time. You will find that one of the significant battlefields is not on another country's land but between our military and the secret services here and abroad. It is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the modern era of American warfare.

>> More about World War II

28. Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy

Blowing My Cover

Written by: Lindsay Moran

Published: December 29th, 2004

Pages: 295

Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy is the autobiography of Lindsay Moran, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for six years. Moran provides an insider's view of what it is like to be a CIA agent, from her initial application process all the way through to her eventual resignation.

She offers candid insights into life at the CIA, including the training process, the work itself, and her relationships with other agents. Along with the seriousness of working for the CIA, there is also loads of humor because of the insane operations that the CIA leadership forces her to do while serving there.

Moran also reflects on the moral implications of her work and comes to some sobering realizations about what she has done. This is a fascinating and eye-opening look at life inside one of America's most secretive institutions.

29. The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World's Most Notorious Terrorists

The Unexpected Spy

Written by: Tracy Walder

Published: February 25th, 2020

Pages: 272

This book provides a look into the very secretive world of espionage and counterterrorism, humanizing those who work on these types of operations for our countries best interests while also providing us with some interesting stories along the way. Tracy Walder was an agent who would use drones to follow terrorists, deal with President Bush and CIA Director George Tenet, and help shut down numerous bombings and terrorist actions during her time.

She later moved to the FBI and helped destroy some of the most dangerous people here at home. However, she realized that through it all, as a woman, there was only so far she could go and taught women how to work in the spy world and not be forgotten.

It has been described as fast-paced and highly gripping by many professional reviewers, making it perfect for fans of spy novels and those interested in the inner workings of governmental organizations.

30. Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of our Times

Charlie Wilson's War

Written by: George Crile III

Published: April 16th, 2003

Pages: 416

In the early 1980s, the United States was engaged in a proxy war with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA had been covertly funding and arming the Mujahideen rebels fighting against the Soviets since 1979, but by 1983 it was becoming clear that this strategy wasn't working.

Enter Charlie Wilson, a Texas congressman who became enamored with the war and helped change American foreign policy in Afghanistan–and, ultimately, the world. He did it by helping secure millions upon millions of dollars to help the CIA working there. 

It takes you into all the dark corners of the CIA, their role in Afghanistan, and other places that are rarely seen in so much detail.

31. The Art of Intelligence

The Art of Intelligence

Written by: Henry A. Crumpton

Published: May 14th, 2012

Pages: 352

Henry A. Crumpton is an acknowledged expert in the field of covert operations. He was the head of the CIA's Afghanistan campaign before retiring at a young age to write his bestselling memoir, The Art of Intelligence. This book explains the art and science of espionage from a firsthand perspective. He advises how best to succeed in similar roles for those who want an exciting career with the CIA or any other secret service organization.

In The Art Of Intelligence, Crumpton talks about how he got started in the clandestine services and his time with the CIA. He describes his best experiences, failures, near misses, successes, and lessons learned on how best to be a successful agent serving your country.

He speaks of seven fundamental principles essential for being an influential member of any intelligence agency, including loyalty, courage, integrity, and perseverance. Mr. Crumpton's best stories are about his time in Afghanistan during the months leading up to September 11 as a leader of a covert CIA campaign against al Qaeda and Taliban forces who were harboring them.

32. Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance bBetween the Vatican, the CIA, and the Mafia

Operation Gladio

Written by: Paul L. Williams

Published: February 3rd, 2015

Pages: 381

The best-selling book by James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times, is an exposé of the CIA. It's an inside look at a little known alliance set up after World War II that included the CIA, the Vatican, and the mafias in both the US and Italy.

It shows how this government organization left behind thousands of operatives around Europe after the war. Other guerilla groups branched out in South American to stop the spread of left-wing movements.

Overall, these underground groups by the CIA helped to topple governments, formed death squads, and were part of dozens of other illegal operations throughout the world.

>> More books about the Mafia

33. First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan

First In

Written by: Gary Schroen

Published: May 10t,  2005

Pages: 379

Gary Schroen is a thirty-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who was among the first American officials on the ground in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In this riveting and eye-opening book, he tells the story of that historic mission--a covert operation ordered by President George W. Bush to overthrow the Taliban and destroy Osama bin Laden's terrorist network--and of how it changed the world.

Schroen takes readers inside the CIA's secret war, describing in riveting detail how he and his team of officers and operatives risked their lives to help defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda. He paints a vivid portrait of the complex web of factors that led to America's decision to invade Afghanistan. He provides an intimate look at life inside the "the Compound," the CIA's operations center in Afghanistan. He then offers a rare glimpse of the intense debates within the agency as it struggled to develop a workable strategy.

First In is an unclassified account of one of the most critical missions in American history--a story of heroism, patriotism, and determination that provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of our government during a time of war.

34. The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA

The Triple Agent

Written by: Joby Warrick

Published:  July 19th 2011

Pages: 272

This book tells the story of a terrorist mole, Ammar al-Baluchi, who infiltrated the CIA and passed along sensitive information to al-Qaeda. This book provides an in-depth look at how Baluchi was able to pull off this complex operation and how the CIA was able to uncover his identity.

This double, or triple agent, was able to get close to some of the most influential leaders in the West and Afghanistan and use the information against each other. The CIA trusted him entirely until he betrayed them in an act that was never forgotten by those that knew this story. Being that al-Baluchi switched allegiances so many times without being found out makes this an incredible read.

35. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

The Looming Tower

Written by: Lawrence Wright

Published: August 8th, 2006

Pages: 469

In The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright takes a deep dive into the history of al-Qaeda and how the road to September 11 unfolded. He uses hundreds of interviews, documents, and information from all over the Middle East and other parts of the world to uncover decades of history about the CIA and how it works or fails to help the world.

He interviews insiders and draws on his extensive research to create a compelling story of events leading up to the terrorist attacks. This is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the CIA and its role in global affairs.

36. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals

The Dark Side

Written by: Jane Mayer

Published: August 20th, 2008

Pages: 392

In the book, Mayer describes how a small group of true believers in Washington led by Dick Cheney and David Addington began to push for expanding presidential powers. They argued that America was facing a new kind of threat that could only be fought with similar methods used by police officers fighting organized crime or drug lords. These methods included "torture, preemptive war, and warrantless domestic surveillance." These methods were considered extreme at best by those who opposed them.

The book describes how the White House lawyers began re-writing legal memos that allowed for these new powers, justifying their use with the argument of fighting a War on Terror.

Mayer also describes in detail the story of how torture began to be used with the capture and interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda operative. The CIA had wanted permission from government lawyers for months before they finally received authorization to begin torturing him in August 2002 with a combination of waterboarding and other methods that were considered "enhanced interrogation techniques."

This continued for many years, along with even more disturbing techniques that went against the laws of the Geneva Convention.