Damascus Station

By David McCloskey,

Book cover of Damascus Station

Book description

CIA case officer Sam Joseph is dispatched to Paris to recruit Syrian Palace official Mariam Haddad. The two fall into a forbidden relationship, which supercharges Haddad's recruitment and creates unspeakable danger when they enter Damascus to find the man responsible for the disappearance of an American spy.

But the cat…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked Damascus Station as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Set during the Syrian Civil War, this thriller focuses on a male CIA agent at the US Embassy in Damascus and a Syrian woman working for her government but desperate to stop the oppression of her people.

The story presents many characters to give a rounded view of the situation, so I learned a lot and can see a wider view of the Middle East. I also enjoyed the tradecraft exhibited, and the portrayal of a capable woman forced by circumstances into the position of being a spy. 

After I finished reading this, I thought I was qualified to recruit and run sources for the CIA. That's how authentic McCloskey's writing is. 

Damascus Station is so detailed that, at times, it seems like you're reading a how-to guide for conducting clandestine operations. Field manuals are as boring and dry as staring at sawdust, and this book is anything but that. McCloskey's tale is full of high-stakes intrigue that keeps you riveted page after page, with anxiety-inducing twists and turns guaranteed to jack up your heart rate while you guess what will happen next.

The intricate weaving of the…

David McClosky is a “former” spook who infuses his storytelling with details only an insider would know.

He tells an excellent tale, diving deep into the fractured regime of Bashar al-Assad's Syria and showing what harm the nasty world of despots and the dark world of spying can wreak on souls. The story intertwines a forbidden love affair between a CIA officer and his agent while collecting intelligence on Syrian chemical weapons and Washington bureaucrats trying to decide what to do next.

It is an excellent representation of what it’s like to serve in a denied area and, having served…

A newcomer to fiction, David McClosky is another “former” who infuses his storytelling with details only an insider would know.

He tells an excellent tale, diving deep into the fractured regime of Bashar al-Assad's Syria and showing what harm the nasty world of despots and the dark world of spying can wreak on souls. The story intertwines a forbidden love affair between a CIA officer and his agent with collecting intelligence on Syrian chemical weapons and Washington bureaucrats trying to decide what to do next.

It is an excellent representation of what it’s like to serve in a…

McCloskey has written a superb tale of the CIA in war-torn Syria, operating under the vicious Assad regime. 

McCloskey weaves a tale of love and betrayal, as the protagonist, a deep-cover CIA officer, seeks to avenge the death of an American colleague in Damascus. McCloskey perfectly captures the history, beauty, and tragedy of Damascus, and the tension, evil, and fear pervading every human interaction therein. 

It’s a wonderfully written debut novel, and the reader awaits many more.

There are several reasons that I really enjoyed this book but first and foremost for me, it was the Tradecraft: How one actually conducts ‘spying’ activities.

McCloskey brings authenticity and realism to the table, drawing upon his time with the CIA in the Middle East. For anyone who has worked in the area, McCloskey’s depictions are instantly recognisable.

While the plot and characters are very believable, the narrative is thrilling and engaging and absolutely absorbed me into the streets and alleys of Damascus.

From James' list on spy reads by real life spies.

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