• Company Man

  • Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA
  • By: John Rizzo
  • Narrated by: Pete Larkin
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (159 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In 1975, fresh out of law school and working a numbing job at the Treasury Department, John Rizzo took "a total shot in the dark" and sent his résumé to the Central Intelligence Agency. He had no notion that more than 30 years later, after serving under 11 CIA directors and seven presidents, he would become a notorious public figure - a symbol and a victim of the toxic winds swirling in post-9/11 Washington. From serving as the point person answering for the Iran-Contra scandal to approving the rules that govern waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques", John Rizzo witnessed and participated in virtually all of the significant operations of the CIA's modern history.

In Company Man, Rizzo charts the CIA's evolution from shadowy entity to an organization exposed to new laws, rules, and a seemingly never-ending string of public controversies. Rizzo offers a direct window into the CIA in the years after the 9/11 attacks, when he served as the agency's top lawyer, with oversight of actions that remain the subject of intense debate today. In Company Man, Rizzo is the first CIA official to ever describe what "black sites" look like from the inside and he provides the most comprehensive account ever written of the "torture tape" fiasco surrounding the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah and the birth, growth, and death of the enhanced interrogation program.

Spanning more than three decades, Company Man is the most authoritative insider account of the CIA ever written - a groundbreaking, timely, and remarkably candid history of American intelligence.

©2014 John Rizzo (P)2014 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"As insider looks go, this one is about as close-up as you can get." ( Booklist)

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  • Overall
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The real CIA, from the inside, no punches pulled

Company Man should be read at two levels, and is successful at both. First, it's a memoir of the CIA's chief lawyer (General Counsel) and his 30-plus years worth of stories, impressions, and characterizations of people he met (Presidents, Secretaries, CIA Directors and many more). As a lawyer, he was often at the center of CIA's most public successes and failures, and everything in between. Note the emphasis on the word "public." All Agency retirees (and indeed, anyone leaving CIA's employ for any reason) is legally obligated (by contract) to submit any written material to a review board to check for classified material, which is usually not permitted. So this is not a journalistic tell-all. But it provides an accurate, honest, and surprisingly well-written view into the organization from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s. If you're a fan of such memoirs, this is for you.

The second level is as a defense of Rizzo's (and the Agency's as a whole) actions during the "torture controversy." If you believe that the "Extended Interrogation Techniques" as described in the press, and in the book as well, are torture and should never have been countenanced, you will find much to disagree with. If you're on Rizzo's side, that the techniques, while most unsettling and problematic, were not torture and were legal (i.e., approved by the government process that was used by all executive agencies to determine legality), then you'll be cheering him on. Perhaps you're one of the three people in the world who has not judged the actions and events; if so, I believe you'll find a rich cache of information to help you decide.

The narration was flawless, such that I truly believed it was Rizzo talking to me.

John Rizzo falls into the category of an accidental patriot. He was a good man in the right place at the right time who played an important part of quite a few historically important events. Fortunately, he is also an excellent writer who chose to tell us about them.

2 people found this helpful

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An inspiration to boring careers

This is a book about as unexciting as a career as you would imagine a career lawyer having. There is way too much time dedicated to describing fellow colleagues characteristics than actually the day to day happenings; in a word BORING. I lost more and more hope that this would turn into something meaningful as time went on. Honestly, I got neither entertainment, knowledge, or inspiration from listening to his recount of a 30 year career as a CIA lawyer. I could have written a more interesting account of my 20 years serving as an enlisted person in the USAF.

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A good read.

Very interesting story, I’m personally barely old enough to know them. As a child I remember hearing of the stories in news. Very interesting to get the behind the scenes look.

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nothing new or relevant.

n just a guy explaing his actions. and saying goodbye. to much emphasis on cia interrogations

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Awesome!!

Great, great book. Thank you, John, for sharing your story. I couldn't stop listening once I started.

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Very interesting

John Rizzo's account for his long-spanning career in the CIA accurately depicts the trying times the CIA has faced since the Cold War. A must read for those interested in learning more about this clandestine branch of the government.

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Great read, very fascinating stories

Certainly worth a listen. I found myself googling many of these events to learn even more about them!

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Politically bent

I got as far as the first few pages of chapter eight and I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Chapter eight title “Dealing with devils” covers the years 1993 through 1998, and shortly after it opens he characterizes the Clinton Administration as “there had been a hostile takeover of the US government”. He says what he means is that the the executive branch of our government had passed from one political party to another. It did not sound or feel that way to me and after reading a few more pages I stopped. I knew from the preceding chapters that the author was politically bent but that was too much for me. It’s not surprising our country feels like it is heading to a political impasse when even top CIA bureaucrats feel that way about the people they serve. I hope he is happy with the executive we have now.

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Enjoyable

Very enjoyable book on the legal aspect of the CIA's inner workings. Rizzo's career spanned three decades and involved some the organization's most tumultuous periods.

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Not the insight into the CIA I was looking for

I wanted to get insight into the way the CIA thinks and operates. I don't believe I got that in this book. I think this is a famous government employee writes a book to get more retirement income book. That's not to say it's devoid of facts or has no interested. Rizzo skims over his time at the CIA briefly before 9/11. He does go into some detail about the torture memos after 9/11. Even there I don't think we get the whole picture. I sense John Rizzo didn't know the all the details or has to hold back some for security reasons. I don't know and can't say. Maybe we have to wait several more decades before true stories really come out.

It's not a hard read and I followed along quite fine, but I don't feel I learned anything.