At some of the darkest moments in history, the truth has been, at times, best chronicled not by journalists but by fiction writers. This is painfully true in these days of embedded journalists and caviar correspondents who serve as bodyguards for the powerful. Barry Eisler is this generation's tech-savvy new media incarnation of Graham Greene. The former-covert-CIA-operative-turned-novelist is fast emerging as one of the most important fiction writers in the military/covert ops/political thriller genre dominated by right-wing, prowar authors like Tom Clancy, Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. Eisler is a political progressive who, in a different life, personally worked on the dark side and knows his stuff.
His new novel, Inside Out, hits bookstores today. I am only half-way through the book and plan to review it when I finish, but I can say with no hesitation that people should pick it up. The plot centers around Ben Treven, a black ops soldier, who finds himself locked up in a Manila prison after a bar fight. His former commander from the Intelligence Support Activity presents him with a mission in return for release: find and eliminate Daniel Larison, a rogue operator from Ben's unit who has stolen ninety-two torture tapes from the CIA and is using them to blackmail the US government. The fast-paced story dives head-first into the current global battlefield, replete with ghost detainees, torture, Blackwater-type mercenaries and corporatism. You can pick up the book in pretty much any bookstore (I saw it this morning at Penn Station) or you can order the book through Barry Eisler's website.
Worth noting is the fact that Eisler has racked up an impressive roster of endorsements from an amazing mixture of former military and CIA figures as well as leading dissidents:
"Inside Out is more than just an addictive, non-stop thriller. It is a microscope turned on the official policies of torture, extraordinary rendition, and the systematic ghosting of detainees. Through the dialogue of his engaging characters, Eisler insightfully conveys the incredible damage these policies caused our nation and the danger they pose to democracy and freedom." —Matthew Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq
"A white knuckle roller-coaster ride through the dark side, a truth so horrifying it can only be told in fiction. Eisler is a rarity, the ex-spook who turns himself into a great thriller writer." —Robert Baer, author of See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism
"Inside Out achieves what only the best works of fiction can: it imparts profoundly insightful commentary on the most pressing political controversies of the day within a riveting dramatic plot. Eisler's unique talent is weaving together exciting story-telling with provocative headline-based truths, and he reaches all new heights with his latest novel." —Glenn Greenwald, Salon, author of Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics
"Eisler turns on its head the old saw that to undersand all is to forgive all. His tight plotting and believable characters show us unforgivingly how counter-terrorism turns evil and counter-productive." —Juan Cole, President, Global Americana Institute, author of Engaging the Muslim World
"Inside Out plumbs, with absolute credibility, the darkest recesses of our recent public life, pulling back the curtain on the grim world of secrets—from extraordinary rendition to torture to extra-judicial killing—that looms behind our recent foreign policy. Which makes it not only compelling but, alas, essential reading." —Mark Danner, author of Torture and Truth and Stripping Bare the Body
"Eisler's novels have always provided readers with fascinating glimpses of the arcane nature of intelligence operations and cleverly drawn composites of the personalities populating that world. In his new work, Inside Out, he goes one step further to accurately capture the zeitgeist of the past decade's dark war against terrorism, offering the reader a very real—and very compelling—rendering of the juxtaposition of personal interests, confused ethics, and misguided patriotism that led the country off a moral cliff. Not long ago, few would have accepted the possibility that the U.S. Government would sanction a program of coercive interrogation practices; now, that reality provides the factual background for an exceptionally well-crafted work of fiction." —Col. Steven Kleinman, Intelligence Officer and National Security Strategist