The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins

Robert B. Baer. Penguin/Blue Rider, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-16857-4

Former CIA agent Baer (The Company We Keep) reveals the ins and outs of the politically charged notion of assassination, as experienced through his own eventful career. He recounts a decade spent tracking the Lebanese assassin known as Hajj Radwan, and distills his knowledge into 21 pithy laws, each of which gets its own chapter. As he takes the reader from #1 “The Bastard Has to Deserve It” to #21 “Get to It Quickly,” Baer argues both for and against the necessity of assassination, noting his preference for the old-fashioned, more personal approach over modern drone warfare, which he compares to phone sex: “[drones] solve the immediate problem, but they leave you unsure of what you got out of it and hungry for more.” His style is candid and accessible, with a little of the American cowboy in evidence. He seems to have admired Radwan, while simultaneously wanting him dead: “although I never laid eyes on him, we were the most intimate of enemies.” While the material is dry at times, it still makes for a fascinating look at a nebulous and misunderstood topic. Agent: Luke Janklow and Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit. (Oct.)
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