May 14, 2020
@claudiacragg speaks with The Washington Post's David Ignatius @ignatiuspost about his new novel, The Paladin. He is a prize winning novelist who has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for nearly four decades.
The story is this: when a daring, high-tech CIA operation goes wrong and is disavowed, the protagonist Michael Dunne sets out for revenge. A CIA operations officer Dunne is tasked with infiltrating an Italian news organization that smells like a front for an enemy intelligence service. Headed by an American journalist, the self-styled bandits run a cyber operation unlike anything the CIA has seen before. Fast, slick, and indiscriminate, the group steals secrets from everywhere and anyone, and exploits them in ways the CIA can neither understand nor stop.
Dunne knows it’s illegal to run a covert op on an American citizen or journalist, but he has never refused an assignment and his boss has assured his protection. Soon after Dunne infiltrates the organization, however, his cover disintegrates. When news of the operation breaks and someone leaks that Dunne had an extramarital affair while on the job, the CIA leaves him to take the fall. Now a year later, fresh out of jail, Dunne sets out to hunt down and take vengeance on the people who destroyed his life.
Reviewers have compared Ignatius's work to classic spy novels like those by Graham Greene. Ignatius's novels have also been praised for their realism; his first novel, Agents of Innocence, was at one point described by the CIA on its website as "a novel but not fiction." His 1999 novel, The Sun King, a reworking of The Great Gatsby set in late-20th-century Washington, is his only departure from the espionage genre.
His 2007 novel, Body of Lies, was adapted into a film by director Ridley Scott. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have acquired the rights to Ignatius's seventh novel, The Increment.
The Quantum Spy, published in 2017, is an espionage thriller about the race between the United States and China to build the world's first hyper-fast quantum computer. His most recent book is The Paladin: A Spy Novel (2020).
He is a former adjunct lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and currently Senior Fellow to the Future of Diplomacy Program. He has received numerous honors, including the Legion of Honor from the French Republic, the Urbino World Press Award from the Italian Republic, and a lifetime achievement award from the International Committee for Foreign Journalism.