Praise for A Kidnapping in Milan
“[A] real-life thriller [with] many well-drawn characters . . . skillfully crafted, highly disturbing.”
—Chicago Tribune >> Read the full review
September 22, 2010
“Steve Hendricks is a gifted writer as well as a dogged sleuth, a combination that turns this account—a journey through some of the darker mazes of the war on terror—into one of those rarities: an important story, excellently told.”
—Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer and
author of The Fall of Baghdad and The Lion’s Grave
“Exceptionally well written and deeply reported—a gripping novel-like book that brilliantly reconstructs one of the darker episodes of the ‘war on terror.’ ”
—Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and
author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know
“[A]n utterly fascinating account . . . This is a how-n0t-to book on tradecraft that should be read and heeded.”
—Washington Times >> Read the full review
March 30, 2011
“If the first half of the book carries all the insider tradecraft and shifting alliances of a John le Carré spy novel, the second half of the book becomes a script for a pilot episode of ‘Law & Order: Milan’ . . . . Much like le Carré, Hendricks builds his plot through a combination of biographies of multiple characters and cultural histories of multiple organizations . . . before allowing them to clash in carefully rendered scenes of intense action. In less confident hands, these biographical and historical accounts might grow tedious, but each page carries enough surprising fact and artful phrase to carry the reader forward.”
—Chapter 16 >> Read the full review
November 17, 2010
“Hendricks knows the United States and Italy and how to write about one for readers in the other. His remarks on Italian culture are outdone only by his background on Muslim terrorism, his account of who this kidnapping victim was, and the inclusion of dialogue picked up by Italian wiretaps of terrorism suspects’ private conversations. But just as terrific reading are Hendricks’ histories of the practice of rendition, of the use of torture, of U.S.-Italian relations, of domestic Italian terrorism, and of modern Egypt. . . . The torture [Abu Omar] received is described in all of its almost unbearable detail, [but] believe it or not, most of this book is enjoyable.”
—David Swanson, author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial
Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union
firedoglake.com & warisacrime.org >> Read the full review
November 6, 2010
“Hendricks’ writing is propulsive, even when he backtracks into historical footnotes to provide a well-rounded purview, and voraciously readable in a Graham Greene-ish sort of way. . . . A Kidnapping in Milan is white-knuckle intrigue, exemplary journalism and capricious history disguised as yet another true-crime spy tale. Certain sections are darkly funny, others understatedly gut-wrenching.”
—Missoula Independent >> Read the full review
December 2, 2010
“Hendricks combines journalistic clarity with the structure of a detective novel in Kidnapping, giving his book the urgency of a modern thriller, all the more striking for its cold reality. The book is well-researched . . . but Kidnapping never reads as a dry recitation of facts or a ponderous series of analyses. . . . Guiding the narrative is a refined sense of moral outrage against the idea that dark deeds done in the dark make our world somehow safer. ”
—Biblioklept >> Read the full review
December 27, 2010
“A Kidnapping in Milan is extraordinarily well researched . . . [I]f you have even the slightest interest in this subject – or in knowing what is being done in your (if you are American) name – this is a great choice.”
—Devourer of Books >> Read the full review
February 21, 2011
The Book in a Few Words
A story of the CIA’s kidnapping of the radical imam Abu Omar and one Italian magistrate’s struggle to put the CIA on trial.
The Book in a Few Sentences
In 2003 the police of Milan were closing in on a network of Islamic terrorists that recruited suicide bombers—until the radical imam at the heart of their investigation, Abu Omar, disappeared suddenly. He was, it would turn out, kidnapped by the CIA and sent to torture in Egypt. But the kidnappers were sloppy, and a bold Italian magistrate, Armando Spataro, traced them through cell-phone records and other clues, then struggled to bring them to trial—the first-ever such trial of CIA officers by an ally of the United States.
A Kidnapping in Milan is nonfiction with the immediacy of a detective story, the power of a beautifully written novel, and the sweep of a great history. Weaving together several narratives, it takes us inside a garage-turned-mosque in Milan where terrorists were nurtured and sent around the world, and it shows us how Italian prosecutors have fought the terrorists in their midst with laws and courts rather than kidnappings and torture. It also shows the savagery of the Egyptian dungeons where the CIA’s victims are shipped, the ways the CIA has molded Italy’s government for half a century, and—because author Hendricks tracked down several of the CIA’s kidnappers from Milan—the utter ordinariness of the spies next door.
Why Steve Wrote the Book
“The barbarisms of America’s ‘War on Terror’ appalled me, as did reporters who went along with the barbarisms,” Steve says. “I was particularly taken aback by the Bush (and now Obama) claims that torture-by-proxy makes us stronger. I wrote A Kidnapping in Milan because few reporters have shown what torture really looked like, because the Italian magistrate who was prosecuting the CIA kidnappers was a charismatic figure, and because I wanted to see if he would succeed in his struggle against American lawlessness. Also, before the CIA kidnapped Abu Omar, the Italians seemed to have had him under thorough and fruitful surveillance, and the snatch appeared to have badly damaged Italy’s work against terrorists. This case, in other words, looked like a good example of how the ‘War on Terror’ made the West less safe. I was also intrigued because the victim was probably a terrorist, not an utter innocent, which added a shade of gray to a story that might otherwise have been more black and white. I wanted to see if I could make a convincing case that torture was wrong no matter who its victim was.”
A Kidnapping in Milan: Publication Info
A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial was published in hardcover on October 11, 2010, by W. W. Norton and Co.
Read an Excerpt of the Book
To read an excerpt of the book, click here.
Buy the Book
To buy A Kidnapping in Milan from Powell’s, click here.
To buy A Kidnapping in Milan from Amazon, click here.
To buy A Kidnapping in Milan from Barnes & Noble, click here.
© 2006–2010 Steve Hendricks