EDJACKAL: A Spy’s Reading List

Greetings Everyday Spy,

I recently traveled abroad to meet with a friend and former covert CIA Deep Cover officer. 

The sensitive nature of his previous work and the fact that his CIA affiliation remains undisclosed prevents me from sharing his true name. But despite the long list of rules and regulations that keep officers like him from ever going public, one modern-day media tool makes it possible to share his voice with future generations… the podcast.

I recorded our conversation and released them as a 5-part series on my Everyday Espionage Podcast.

Using the codename ‘Everyday Jackal’ (aka: EDJACKAL), my friend and I had the chance to openly discuss our lives, our work, and how we apply our CIA training in everyday life.

Since releasing the EDJACKAL podcast episodes, the feedback from listeners has been incredible!

“Andrew – Your podcast came into my life at the exact time that I needed it. Jackal – Your episodes on the podcast stirred something deep inside of me that is now like a fire which is burning hot.” – Tripp, February 2020 

“I want to express my gratitude for your service…thank you for reminding listeners that freedom isn’t free.” – Stephen, February 2020

“I sincerely appreciate the knowledge and wisdom attained from the two of you.” – Jared, February 2020

It isn’t always easy finding a secure place and time to meet EDJACKAL, but I felt compelled to meet him again before March 2020 so that I could share the feedback from the podcast.

When we got our chance to meet and started to review the feedback, we saw a common thread.

People wanted to know what we read. 

Listeners wanted to know where JACKAL and I found guidance, knowledge, and inspiration in written form.

So we decided to tackle the request like intelligence officers. 

We built individual reading lists, sorted them, and then cross-referenced them against one another to find correlations. We discussed key concepts, overt biases, and personal preferences in order to filter out books that made our individual lists based on subjective perceptions.

Our goal was to identify the few books that yielded the highest value per reading hour invested.

Then we created three final lists.

Here is what we came up with:

THE GREATS – These books offer timeless inspiration and insight into the human condition. Both fiction and non-fiction in nature, these books provided advantages that served us in our intelligence careers in engaging, assessing, and influencing others.

  1. The Bible – 1611
  2. 100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez – 1967
  3. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley – 1931
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman – 2011
  5. Zero to One, Peter Thiel – 2014
  6. Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle – 340 BC
  7. The Art of War, Sun Tzu – 500
  8. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand – 2010
  9. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card – 1985
  10. Education of a Wandering Man, Louis L’Amour  – 1989

THE CLASSICS – These books expand individual perceptions and challenge readers to see the world from a new perspective. They are easy to find in a library or bookstore and have (or will) outlive many generations. These books are the heritage of mankind.

  1. 1984, George Orwell – 1949
  2. Lord of the Flies, William Golding – 1954
  3. Shakleton’s Way, Margot Morrell & Stephanie Capparell – 1998 
  4. Parallel Lives, Plutarch – 1470
  5. They Odyssey, Homer – 725 BC
  6. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway – 1926
  7. The Generalship of Alexander the Great, J.F.C. Fuller – 1958
  8. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche – 1883
  9. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck – 1937
  10. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien – 1937

DEATH FELLOWS – These are the books EDJACKAL and I believe that you must read before you die. All people are a product of what they feed their mind. Do not pass into the next life without feasting on these. 

  1. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy – 1878
  2. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand – 1957
  3. Azincourt, Bernard Cornwell – 2008
  4. Young Men & Fire, Norman Maclean – 1992
  5. Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden – 1999
  6. The Essays, Michel de Montaigne – 1580
  7. Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, William Nack – 1975
  8. Letters from a Stoic, Seneca – 65 AD
  9. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry – 1985
  10. The Iliad, Homer – 762 BC

Happy reading, and of course…

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

Author: Andrew Bustamante, Founder of www.EverydaySpy.com. Andrew is a former covert CIA Intelligence officer, decorated US Air Force Combat Veteran, and respected Fortune 500 senior advisor. Learn more from Andrew on his Podcast (The Everyday Espionage Podcast) and by following @EverydaySpy on your favorite social media platform.