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06 09 22- About David Ignatius, editor and columnist for the Washington Post.
David Ignatius is a journalist and novelist. He is currently an associate editor and columnist for the Washington Post.

Ignatius is a graduate of Harvard and King's College, Cambridge. After school, he worked for Washington Monthly and then the Wall Street Journal, where he covered the CIA and was a correspondent from the Middle East. He later went to the Washington Post in 1986, where he has since remained except for a stint from 2000 through 2002 when he was executive editor of The International Herald Tribune in Paris. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, and The New Republic.

Ignatius has also written five novels, which tend to draw on his experience and substantial additional research on international politics and finance. They combine suspense and international spy intrigue with informative insights into foreign affairs. His novels include:

Agents of Innocence, 1987
SIRO, 1991
The Bank of Fear, 1994
A Firing Offense, 1997
The Sun King, 1999
In 2006, he wrote a foreword to the American edition of Enemy Combatant by Moazzam Begg.

Hi father Paul Robert Ignatius (born Poghos Ignatosian on November 11,1920) was a U.S. administrator of Armenian descent. He served as Secretary of the Navy between 1967 and 1969.

There are so many great reviews of his novels, but I thought to include only two; one form CIA website, and another from NY Times:

CIA website (

David Ignatius: Agents of Innocence

Veteran CIA officers have described this as "a novel but not fiction". It is based on the career of CIA employees who died in the line of duty in Beirut.


NY Times


Published: April 7, 1991

They'll Always Have Istanbul

David Ignatius, rather like Gerald Seymour in Britain, is carving out a special niche for himself in the fictional literature of intelligence and espionage. His first novel, "Agents of Innocence," was well received both because it was a first-rate book and because it gave every appearance of being very close to the truth, unfolding an extremely plausible and quite possibly almost wholly accurate account of how the C.I.A. recruited a Palestinian agent, and then lost him, as Lebanon fell apart and terrorists drove the Americans away in a suicide attack on a Marine barracks in 1983. Indeed, a historian of intelligence argued in the journal Intelligence and National Security that the chief figures in "Agents of Innocence" are clearly identifiable with real-life people: the Al Fatah leader Abu Hassan Salameh and the C.I.A.'s Robert Ames.

His second novel, "Siro," is even closer to the bone, indeed so close that Mr. Ignatius gives us a specific disclaimer, telling us that the events and people in the book are inventions and that it is not a veiled description of real incidents. You could have fooled me.

One would expect the foreign editor of The Washington Post to have a subtle and complex view of the world, and "Siro" displays that view nicely. This is neither a dose of jamesbonderie, filled with heroes, villains and derring-do, nor another of those exposes of the C.I.A. that shows its employees to be democracy's worst enemies. The moral environment Mr. Ignatius describes is much too devious -- and yet, somehow, obvious -- for such easy judgments.

Virtually every character in "Siro" is a cynic in one guise or another, and certainly patriotism is proved again to be the last refuge of scoundrels. But it is also the refuge of the confused, of the bored and of those who genuinely care for their country. A good bit of intelligence activity is shown to be time-wasting, mischievous or just plain silly, but not always, and not without results.

The time is 1979, when the United States has been battered about the head and intelligence operations appear to be particularly pointless and ineffective. A member of the old guard, an Ivy Leaguer who came to the C.I.A. from the Office of Strategic Services, believes that the Soviet Union is far less monolithic and powerful than it seems -- indeed, that it just might fall apart over the nationalities question, especially in Central Asia -- and he plans a rogue operation that he runs "off the books." For his purposes he recruits Alan Taylor, a bored romantic who, as Istanbul base chief, likes to sail close to the wind, and Anna Barnes, a young case officer under nonofficial cover. They in turn recruit locals, plus an Iranian, an Uzbek, an Armenian and an American resident in Athens.

Anna is much the most interesting person in "Siro." Daughter of an ambassador, dropout from Harvard's doctoral program in Ottoman studies, she wants to believe that the operation makes sense and will do good, and despite all professional advice she falls in love -- first with Taylor and then with the idea of doing the honorable thing. The reader can see disaster on the way but is led inexorably on by likable people, good dialogue and Mr. Ignatius' intimate sense of place. Anna had been drawn to the study of the Turks because she was interested in how civilized people do monstrous things, and more than once she appears to suggest parallels between the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the decline of American power in the 1970's.

There may have been no 1979 C.I.A. destabilization operation in Central Asia, but if one substitutes Kurds for the people of Turkestan, the tone and intent ring true. So does the old guard's shrewd analysis of the disaster that lay ahead for the Soviet Union as it mired itself in Afghanistan. Most of all, as one watches intelligent, worried people seduced by the power of secrecy and unaccountability (and, yes, by luxury hotels and first-class travel), one understands how an Oliver North and a John Poindexter could believe that only people like themselves stood between a supine America and a paranoid and apparently all-powerful enemy.

Mr. Ignatius' tone is sardonic on this page, whimsical on that one. He gets good mileage out of the sillier examples of code names, disguises and recognition signals. He is also deadly serious about love and about the cruel history of the Middle East (it is, Anna reflects, "a theater of pain") and about how betrayal comes in tiny increments. He also shows us a time of confusion in the C.I.A., when the old boys are in retreat before Congress and the new boys -- including the director -- seem not to know whether they are part of the executive or the legislative branch of government, if either. The word "Siro," as Mr. Ignatius uses it, is a cryptonym, an utterly meaningless phrase that is used in agency communications to stand for the C.I.A. What the agency was doing in 1979 was quite meaningless in itself, and yet Mr. Ignatius hints of a once and future time when its activities might truly matter.


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