Surprise, Kill, Vanish

The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators and Assassins

Written by: Annie Jacobsen
Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen

Rating: 1 – All should read to understand this secret history

Unsung Heroes Who Answered the Call

These are the people we need to honor, the ones who have been executing the tough assignments around the globe during and since WWII. Our country is actually very generous with their praise of military members and their civilian counterparts of OGAs, but our common knowledge of covert operations in media is severly lacking. You could argue that the obscurity of such operations is essential to the success, but after a while (50 years) I think we should be educating ourselves on these men and women. This book is a great leap forward in this undertaking, highlighting a few of the operations and personalities engaged is covert operations.

This book primarily follows the – nothing short of incredible – career of Green Beret turned covert operator Billy Waugh. However several others are mentioned and explored. From cross boarder operations in Vietnam to kill/capture missions of terrorists and assassins across the globe. Waugh who first entered service before the Korean War and served as an infantryman in that conflict, became a Green Beret and fought in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, also continued his service to this country into his 70s, conducting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas. Most incredibly – as noted by another subject of the book – what is known about Waugh’s exploits is incremental to what he actually did throughout the past 60+ years… in fact Billy is probably still called upon to do things no others can/will.

This account of covert operations is mostly conducted by former Special Forces (a.k.a. Green Berets) and actually only mentions their navy counterparts balancing balls on their noses once, when Billy had to do a mission instead of a Seal in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I don’t diminish anything done by the great operators of the Navy Seals, but this book is a breath of fresh air instead of the constant bombardment from the “Trident Publishing House”.

Relentless Strike is a more contemporary history that includes the military covert actions of both the Army and Navy, but Surprise, Kill, Vanish is by far a more comprehensive history with more details of action however still masked with a veil of secrecy.

I listened to this book on Audible at 3x speed and had no issues. The author is the narrator and does a fine job.

Other works for consideration:
1. Relentless Strike, by Sean Naylor
2. Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden
3. 12 Strong, by Doug Stanton
4. Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden
5. Five Years to Freedom, by James N. Rowe
6. Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, by Giles Milton
7. Rogue Heroes, by Ben Macintyre
8. Wild Bill Donovan, by Douglas Waller
9. Beyond Valor, by Patrick O’Donnell

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