Why the Spy Who Might Have Forged Peace in the Middle East was Assassinated

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Bob Ames in Saudi Arabia, Christmas 1964, with his daughters, Catherine and Adrienne. Ames was becoming fluent in Arabic. “He was one of the best spooks I ever met,” recalled a colleague.

On April 18, 1983, a bomb exploded outside the American Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, including CIA operative Robert Ames. The attack was a geopolitical turning point that America’s relations with the Arab world. Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kai Bird talks about Ames’s work in the Middle East and how his friendships and emphasis on shared values with Yasir Arafat’s  intelligence chief Ali Hassan Salameh (“The Red Prince”), who was also killed by an assassin, made Ames the most influential and effective intelligence officer in the Middle East. Bird’s biography The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames is a portrait of the remarkable life and death of one of the most important operatives in CIA history who, had he lived, might have helped heal the rift between Arabs and the West.