73 books like Damascus Station

By David McCloskey,

Here are 73 books that Damascus Station fans have personally recommended if you like Damascus Station. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Night Soldiers

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

Another master, Alan Furst’s 1st novel (of 15 so far) is a great place to start. His stories are so well researched you might think you were reading a travel guide.

Filled with intricate details of the conflict between Russia and Germany as World War II begins, Khristo Stoianev is a young man recruited to work for the Russian secret service, the NKVD. From his recruitment in Bulgaria through training and successive secret missions, Khristo must survive not only the Nazis, but his own employers, who decide he too must be killed.

Furst builds both the pace and tension as Khristo fights his way across Europe trying to escape. Relentless.  

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Night Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin's purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934-45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944. Night Soldiers is a scrupulously researched panoramic novel, a…


Book cover of Red Sparrow

Mark Pawlosky Author Of Friendly Fire

From my list on lovers of gripping suspense and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong journalist, I’ve covered and have been drawn to tales of intrigue, con men, massive financial scams, domestic terrorists and international plots, and the investigators and authorities who pursue them.

Mark's book list on lovers of gripping suspense and espionage

Mark Pawlosky Why did Mark love this book?

Jason Matthews is the real deal, a 30-year-veteran of the CIA’s Operations Directorate and he gives the reader a ringside seat both into the Agency’s operations as well as Putin’s vast spy network and advanced training programs that recruits beautiful young woman to seduce and exterminate foreign assets.

This is one of the steamiest spy novels ever produced.

By Jason Matthews,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Red Sparrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons.

Dominika Egorov, former prima ballerina, is sucked into the heart of Putin's Russia, the country she loved, as the twists and turns of a betrayal and counter-betrayal unravel.

American Nate Nash, idealistic and ambitious, handles the double agent, codenamed MARBLE, considered one of CIA's biggest assets. He needs to keep his identity secret for as long as the mole can keep supplying golden information.

Will Dominika be able to unmask MARBLE, or will the mission see her faith destroyed in the country she has always passionately defended?

'A…


Book cover of The Night Manager

Mark Pawlosky Author Of Friendly Fire

From my list on lovers of gripping suspense and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong journalist, I’ve covered and have been drawn to tales of intrigue, con men, massive financial scams, domestic terrorists and international plots, and the investigators and authorities who pursue them.

Mark's book list on lovers of gripping suspense and espionage

Mark Pawlosky Why did Mark love this book?

John Le Carré, the undisputed master of espionage, shifts gears in The Night Manager as the Cold War ends and an unsteady detente emerges in Europe, creating a power vacuum quickly filled by mercenaries, arms dealers, and drug smugglers who accumulate vast fortunes in the black markets that spring forth.

This book rekindles the flame for Le Carré readers who thought his best storytelling days were behind him.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Night Manager as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Night Manager, an ex-soldier helps British Intelligence penetrate the secret world of ruthless arms dealers.

At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities - about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings - backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.

In a chilling tale of corrupt intelligence agencies, billion-dollar price tags and the truth of the brutal…


Book cover of The Handler

James E. Mack Author Of Asset Seven

From my list on spy reads by real life spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent over two decades on the front lines of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, working for many organisations and agencies around the globe. Having survived shootings, bombings, double agents, and kidnap attempts, I now prefer to write about such things rather than experience them! I grew up reading spy thrillers from the likes of Gerald Seymour and Frederick Forsyth and retain a passion for the genre. And there’s nothing better than reading a new novel, getting lost in the plot, and appreciating the realism or authenticity the author brings to the story. I hope you enjoy the books I’ve recommended that were written by real-life spies.

James' book list on spy reads by real life spies

James E. Mack Why did James love this book?

Another experienced intelligence officer, M.P. Woodward has created a terrific cast of characters for his series that begins with The Handler.

Once again, there’s a healthy dose of authenticity drawn from Woodward’s background that helps drive the plot forward.

A CIA operative, Meredith Morris-Dale, is assigned to extract an Iranian nuclear scientist with vital intelligence. The scientist, however, will only agree to the extraction if Meredith's ex-husband and former disgraced CIA paramilitary, John, carries out the operation.

Throw in internal CIA politics, Russian and Iranian spies, and the strained relationship of the divorced couple now working together and you have a terrific plot that races along.

By M. P. Woodward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Handler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A disgraced former CIA operative must go back in the field with only his ex-wife as his handler in this electrifying thriller from a former intelligence officer.

Meredith Morris-Dale is a CIA case officer and a damn good one...even if this last mission did go terribly wrong. Now she has been summoned back to Langley where she expects to be fired. Instead, she is met by the Deputy Director with stunning news. 

A single well-placed CIA mole in Iran’s uranium enrichment program has kept the terrorist nation from building a bomb by sabotaging the performance of their covert centrifuge arrays.…


Book cover of Need to Know

James E. Mack Author Of Asset Seven

From my list on spy reads by real life spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent over two decades on the front lines of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, working for many organisations and agencies around the globe. Having survived shootings, bombings, double agents, and kidnap attempts, I now prefer to write about such things rather than experience them! I grew up reading spy thrillers from the likes of Gerald Seymour and Frederick Forsyth and retain a passion for the genre. And there’s nothing better than reading a new novel, getting lost in the plot, and appreciating the realism or authenticity the author brings to the story. I hope you enjoy the books I’ve recommended that were written by real-life spies.

James' book list on spy reads by real life spies

James E. Mack Why did James love this book?

You’re a CIA analyst, well respected and regarded by your employer, married for ten years and a mother of four children.

At work one day, you are directed to hack a Russian criminal’s computer. It’s not an easy task but you eventually succeed and are stunned to find details and photographs of 5 deep-cover Russian spies living in America looking back at you. One of which is your husband.

This is a great start to a novel that races along with our main character thrown into a maelstrom of lies, loyalty, and impossible choices.

Brilliant stuff.

By Karen Cleveland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Need to Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Married for ten years. Four children. She thought she knew her husband better than anyone.
She was wrong.

'Heart-poundingly suspenseful and heart-wrenchingly insightful' J.P.Delaney, author of The Girl Before

'This compulsive, clever thriller will have you reading long into the night' Red

****

You get to work. Make a coffee. Turn on your computer.

Your task: break into a Russian criminal's laptop and find proof that he's concealing five deep-cover agents - seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

You're in. Five faces stare back at you.

One of them is your husband.

****

'An immensely satisfying story with serpentine…


Book cover of The Tears of Autumn

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

I love McCarry’s books because not only are they true to the genre, they are historically accurate (and often quite humorous).

Moreover, his spy “tradecraft” works because he was a deep-cover CIA officer—the ones who get shot if they’re caught. His characters are realistic, not supermen—they have feelings, fears, and families—and they struggle against enormous odds.

In Tears of Autumn, American spy Paul Christopher believes he knows who assassinated JFK, a theory that pits him against a Vietnamese family seeking revenge for the death of its patriarch, as well as his bosses in the CIA. To survive, Christopher must stay one step ahead of all of them in this totally plausible tale of political intrigue. 

By Charles McCarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tears of Autumn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A re-release of the best-selling thriller originally published twenty years ago finds influential secret agent Paul Christopher pursuing a dangerous theory about the assassination of JFK, an investigation that threatens American foreign policy. By the author of Old Boys. 20,000 first printing.


Book cover of Proof of Life: Twenty Days on the Hunt for a Missing Person in the Middle East

Kenneth Dekleva Author Of The Last Violinist

From my list on hostage negotiation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect my experience as a former US government physician-diplomat, based overseas in Russia, Mexico, Europe, and South Asia, where I was involved in working closely with law enforcement and diplomatic negotiators in several highly sensitive, delicate, and dangerous hostage situations, both as a consultant and in providing medical support/care coordination to released hostages. I always found this work to be exhilarating and demanding, and it left me with the highest respect for law enforcement, diplomatic, and mental health professionals who work in this space. As a result, I’ve had additional formal training in hostage negotiation, negotiation psychology, and medical/psychological support to victims.

Kenneth's book list on hostage negotiation

Kenneth Dekleva Why did Kenneth love this book?

Daniel Levin’s book is a gripping, gut-wrenching tale of his search for missing young man in Syria during the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

A gifted international negotiator, Levin also tells a very human and tragic tale, with valuable lessons on how negotiators should approach the most dangerous, high-risk negotiations, where the chances of failure and sorrow are extremely high. Levin writes masterfully, and his story overwhelms the reader with his sense of empathy, tragedy, and yes, even hope, in a part of the world where hope is in short supply.

By Daniel Levin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Proof of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Riveting . . . Well-written and highly compelling."—Wall Street Journal

​“Truly thrilling. Daniel Levin brilliantly conveys both the menace and the evil of Middle Eastern intrigue, and some victories of human kindness over cruelty and despair.”—Daniel Kahneman, New York Times bestselling author of Thinking, Fast and Slow 

Daniel Levin was in his New York office when he got a call from an acquaintance with an urgent, cryptic request to meet in Paris. A young man had gone missing in Syria. No government, embassy, or intelligence agency would help. Could he? Would he? So begins a suspenseful, shocking, and at times…


Book cover of Bamboo and Blood

Kenneth Dekleva Author Of The Negotiator's Cross

From my list on espionage/spy thrillers that tell very human stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist and former American diplomat, who served overseas in Europe, Russia, Mexico, and India. My regional diplomatic travels took me to over 70 countries over several decades. I have always loved spy thrillers because they highlight the intrigue, drama, psychology, and history of different cultures, which brings out the humanity, courage, and tragedy of the characters therein. Good spy thrillers also capture a sense of place, culture, and history, and possess an authenticity that gives them a broader, universal appeal.

Kenneth's book list on espionage/spy thrillers that tell very human stories

Kenneth Dekleva Why did Kenneth love this book?

A wonderful book! James Church is former intelligence officer, and in Bamboo and Blood, he weaves a tale of murder and missile deals, set in the context of North Korea's famine. 

With its evocation of cold, snow, and death, Inspector O encounters a giggling Israeli agent; a solitary, lonely North Korean general; a former colleague from a failed mission; a bevy of North Korean diplomats; and a Swiss counterintelligence officer. The tale ends with Inspector O's caveat to the Israeli agent: "Belief is easy. It's doubting that causes difficulties." 

Inspector O survives the famine, and another winter, as does North Korea. This novel by Church, like his debut spy thriller/mystery, A Corpse in the Koryo: An Inspector O Novel, is one to be savored.

By James Church,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bamboo and Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the late 1990s, and a younger Inspector is working in Pyongyang as the North's nuclear missile program - and international relations are heating up. In Pakistan, the wife of a North Korean diplomat is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Inspector is assigned to the investigation with strict instructions to stay away from anything to do with the missile program. That proves impossible, though, when realizes the woman's death provides him an entry point into a larger conspiracy,Once again, James Church opens a window onto a society where nothing is quite as it seems. The story serves as the reader's…


Book cover of In the Twinkling of an Eye: A Novel of Biological Terror and Espionage

Kenneth Dekleva Author Of The Negotiator's Cross

From my list on espionage/spy thrillers that tell very human stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist and former American diplomat, who served overseas in Europe, Russia, Mexico, and India. My regional diplomatic travels took me to over 70 countries over several decades. I have always loved spy thrillers because they highlight the intrigue, drama, psychology, and history of different cultures, which brings out the humanity, courage, and tragedy of the characters therein. Good spy thrillers also capture a sense of place, culture, and history, and possess an authenticity that gives them a broader, universal appeal.

Kenneth's book list on espionage/spy thrillers that tell very human stories

Kenneth Dekleva Why did Kenneth love this book?

I loved this work!  And its realism truly frightened me. 

James Lawler, a legendary CIA officer, has followed his brilliant debut novel (Living Lies: A Novel of the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program) with a very frightening and all-too-contemporary thriller about bioweapons. This is not science fiction, and the fields of bioweapons and neuro weapons - think ‘Havana Syndrome’ or lethal viruses such as COVID and EBOLA - have been extensively studied by America’s adversaries.

Jim has told a gripping, taut, and exciting tale of Russia’s and North Korea’s collaboration in the development of such bioweapons. The characters are fascinating and believable, as is the plot line.  Lawler’s novel combines espionage, mystery, and science fiction – or not! – in a terrifying, real-world, 21st-century mystery thriller.

By James Lawler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Twinkling of an Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"In the Twinkling of an Eye" is a story about espionage, family love, and loyalty, focused on a Russian-North Korean conspiracy to develop a devastating biological weapon for assassination, terror and genocide, as written by a senior CIA operations officer whose career was devoted to battling the spread of weapons of mass destruction. This is the second book in the thrilling Guild Series!

In 1986, a Ukrainian teenager loses his father and his own left eye to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but he escapes and becomes a top-notch genetics engineer at Moscow State University. There, he is seduced into joining…


Book cover of The Matchmaker: A Spy in Berlin

Lisa Ard Author Of Brighter Than Her Fears

From my list on historical fiction with a strong female lead.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a well-written historical fiction novel that immerses me in the time period and introduces a female character I can relate to. We may live in different times, but women in all eras feel love, attempt and fail, find strength, perform heroic deeds,  suffer mishaps, and experience life. Escaping into their stories makes me question what I would have done in their shoes as well as think about how my own story is still being written. As a historical fiction author, I seek to create those relationships between my characters and readers.

Lisa's book list on historical fiction with a strong female lead

Lisa Ard Why did Lisa love this book?

A compelling story of spies and lies, but even more so of the woman victimized by an elaborate espionage system (the Stasi in East Germany).

I found the setting particularly interesting as the story follows the lead-up to the Berlin Wall falling and the aftermath.

The story moves along at a good pace. Overall a very satisfying read.

By Paul Vidich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Matchmaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Berlin, 1989. Anne Simpson, an American who works as a translator at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee, thinks she is in a normal marriage with a charming East German. But then her husband disappears and the CIA and Western German intelligence arrive at her door. Nothing about her marriage is as it seems.
Anne had been targeted by the Matchmaker - a high level East German counterintelligence officer - who runs a network of Stasi agents. These agents are his 'Romeos' who marry vulnerable women in West Berlin to provide them with cover as they report back to the Matchmaker.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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