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Hunting The Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Soldier's Fifty Years on the Frontlines of the War Against Terrorism [Mass Market Paperback]

Billy Waugh
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 5 2005

For more than half a century, Special Forces and CIA legend Billy Waugh dedicated his life to tracking down and eliminating America's most virulent enemies. Operating from the darkest shadows and most desolate corners of the world, he made his mark in many of the most important operations in the annals of U.S. Spec Ops.

He spent seven and a half years behind enemy lines in Vietnam as a member of a covert group of elite commandos. He trailed Osama Bin Laden in Khartoum in the early '90s, and would have killed the terrorist kingpin if his superiors had allowed it. And at the age of seventy-two, he marched through the frozen high plains of Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Hunting the Jackal is the astonishing true account of the singular career of a courageous soldier in his nation's shadow wars -- including his pivotal role in the previously untold story of the capture of the most infamous and elusive assassin in history, Carlos the Jackal.


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From Publishers Weekly

This bloody, chest-thumping memoir showcases the Special Forces mindset at its most fanatical. Maimed in a firefight with the North Vietnamese, Waugh limped back to Vietnam, his shrapnel-riddled leg oozing pus, to volunteer for six more years in combat. When that war wound down, Waugh bounced around until he found a new lease on life as an "independent contractor" with the CIA. Happily ensconced in squalid, sweltering Khartoum in the early 1990s, he surveiled all-star terrorist Carlos the Jackal and kept tabs on up-and-comer Osama bin Laden, for whom he drew up assassination plans, only to have them nixed by "sanctimonious" higher-ups. Never one to fade away, Waugh, age 71, wangled his way into a Special Forces unit for the 2001 campaign in Afghanistan, where the younger soldiers "worshipped" him. There he relished the awesome accuracy of American smart bombs, but still pined for the excitement of the up close and personal throat-slitting and machine-gunning of his salad days in Vietnam. Waugh is a Special Forces zealot, reserving his bitterest ire not for Communists and terrorists but for squeamish civilian officials and conventional military brass who disdain special ops. He doggedly eschews introspection, proclaiming himself "a man of action, a man who functions" without "gazing into the distance, pondering the meaning of it all." Co-writer Keown, co-author of the Dennis Rodman memoir Bad as I Wanna Be, keeps the writing taut, pungent and full of coarse, often gross, thrills and lots of special ops and spycraft lore. But Waugh himself emerges as a one-dimensional, blustering character to whom the years seem to have bequeathed more fervor than wisdom. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In this all-action memoir, Waugh, with help from professional writer Keown, recalls a half-dozen episodes from Vietnam, Sudan, and Afghanistan. These were selected from a fund of combat and intelligence experiences in 60 countries that, according to Waugh, he otherwise can't talk about. Although Waugh expresses the warrior ethic that has motivated him, in general, he is not personally revealing beyond exhibiting mission-oriented drive in dispatching the enemy. Waugh describes battles he was involved in, some as a member of the Study and Observation Group, the subject of several recent histories (e.g., Secret Commandos by John Plaster [BKL My 1 04]). After surviving the Vietnam War with medals for valor and shrapnel in his body, Waugh was contracted by the CIA to conduct surveillance on infamous terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal. Waugh recounts tailing them in the early 1990s (ruing that his proposals to kill them weren't accepted) and concludes with his participation--at age 71--with American special forces in Afghanistan. That's a record sure to awe students of special-operations warfare. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
As I waited to die in a rice paddy in Bong Son, South Vietnam, on June 18, 1965, with green North Vietnam Army (NVA) tracers searing past my naked, immobile body, my mind was not occupied by fear or regret. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One Man's Extraordinary Journey Dec 11 2009
Format:Hardcover
Beginning in the cruel jungles of Vietnam and proceeding on a wild and tumultuous journey through Cambodia, Libya, the Sudan and Afghanistan, Billy Waugh, the extraordinary, larger-than-life Special Forces warrior and CIA Special Operations operative, drags us kicking and screaming with fear, apprehension and delight into his shadowy world.
His ultimate mission--leading a team to stop Carlos--reputedly the most vicious of terrorists in the latter part of the twentieth century.
This volume is a thrilling true account of the events which culminated in the capture of the heinous individual known as The Jackal who had for many years eluded all the major intelligence agencies of the world.
It will grab you and hold you, enthralled, excited and, at times, appalled-- to the very end.
I highly recommend it.
Read it.
You'll be glad you did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Disregard Publisher's Weekly Review July 8 2004
Format:Hardcover
I used to subscribe to Publisher's Weekly, willing to put up with some of that publication's obvious left-leaning sympathies in order to get the most recent publishing news. But no more. I have just cancelled my subscription based on the incredibly biased and belittling review of American patriot Billy Waugh's book. I can only assume that the review was written by the same editor that reviews (negatively, of course) anything that is positive about America, our current President, conservatives, or the military. The author of this poison pill of a review chooses his adjectives as carefully as if he was attempting to craft fine literature. It is obvious that even a well-told tale of a life lived making sure that rags like PW can be published will never receive a fair review from the commissars at Reed Elsevier, Inc. Billy Waugh is not "a one dimensional, blustering character" and anyone who knows him will attest to that. What he is represents what the left so hates: a man who has devoted his entire life to the defense of this Nation, our Nation, his Nation . . . and you ought to be damn proud that he has.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for all who enjoy freedom June 26 2004
Format:Hardcover
Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz last April complained to Publishers Weekly about its negative review of his new book. Amazingly, the editor-in-chief agreed and had the book re-reviewed. Billy Waugh should have them do the same. HUNTING THE JACKAL is an incredible look into the world of secret warriors working around the clock to safeguard our freedom. He has hunted--and found--terrorists who top the Most Wanted lists. And here he writes about Carlos the Jackal and Osama bin Laden and others. He's done the dirty work in the world's hellholes (just the descriptions of which seem to upset book reviewers). It is not pretty work, and what they do and how they do it is not particularly appropriate for some polite conversations. But that is the point. This is a well-written book--better than most--that lays out the real underworld in a clean, engaging fashion. You're quickly taken along on an amazing life, and before you know it, you're at the last page, overwhelmed at what you've "witnessed" ... and wanting more. The best-selling author W.E.B. Griffin said it best: "Waugh is the warrior's warrior. From Special Forces missions in Vietnam to black ops work around the world, he has fought our worst enemies hellbent on harming America in ways unimagined. We sleep soundly, our freedoms defended, thanks to men like Waugh. This is his remarkable story -- read it and understand what too few do."
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  78 reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for all who enjoy freedom June 26 2004
By webgriffin.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz last April complained to Publishers Weekly about its negative review of his new book. Amazingly, the editor-in-chief agreed and had the book re-reviewed. Billy Waugh should have them do the same. HUNTING THE JACKAL is an incredible look into the world of secret warriors working around the clock to safeguard our freedom. He has hunted--and found--terrorists who top the Most Wanted lists. And here he writes about Carlos the Jackal and Osama bin Laden and others. He's done the dirty work in the world's hellholes (just the descriptions of which seem to upset book reviewers). It is not pretty work, and what they do and how they do it is not particularly appropriate for some polite conversations. But that is the point. This is a well-written book--better than most--that lays out the real underworld in a clean, engaging fashion. You're quickly taken along on an amazing life, and before you know it, you're at the last page, overwhelmed at what you've "witnessed" ... and wanting more. The best-selling author W.E.B. Griffin said it best: "Waugh is the warrior's warrior. From Special Forces missions in Vietnam to black ops work around the world, he has fought our worst enemies hellbent on harming America in ways unimagined. We sleep soundly, our freedoms defended, thanks to men like Waugh. This is his remarkable story -- read it and understand what too few do."
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book about a modern day American hero. Dec 20 2004
By D. A. Leonard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is truly an excpetional book about one of America's greatest modern day patriots.

I first heard of Waugh from a Retired Marine Corps Captain, when I was a 19 year old Force Recon Marine in Kosovo. Now after reading this book I know the full story of just who this man was and what he has done for our country.

My dad used to tell me about the SOG soldiers in Vietnam, and how they were pivital in America's war in Vietnam. The fact that Waugh left SOG and then contiued to work for the CIA hunting down terrorist filth like Carlos "The Jackal" and even fought in Afghanistan at age 72 is truly remarkable.

Probably the thing that will anger readers the most in the fact that Waugh could have assassinated Bin Laden if only his higher ups had found the guts to allow him to do it. I wonder how those people felt on the morning of September 11th, when they realized they had allowed Bin Laden to commit the worst terrorist act in History ON AMERICAN SOIL.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done Oct. 8 2004
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I don't usually write reviews, but the difference between what the Publisher's Weekly review said and what this book is is like night and day.

If you're familiar with any of the books about MACV/SOG, especially the writings of John Plaster, then SGM Billy Waugh's name is slightly familiar to you. He participated in one of the first combat HALO jumps in Southeast Asia and had many other adventures.

This is a fast read, split between the author's time in Vietnam, his experiences in the Mideast as a contractor for the CIA, his surveillance of Bin Ladin, Carlos the Jackal, and others.

I must have read a different book. This is actually more poignant then most. Waugh describes running away at age twelve to join the USMC (didn't make it), the bonds of some of his comrades who are shot rescuing him while he is injured, his role saving a Cambodian colonel, and his 'final mission' going to Afghanistan at age 71.

If you are a 71 year old man in Afghanistan in 2002 and COL Mulholland, the commander of 5th Special Forces Group, walks up to YOU because he wants his picture taken with YOU, then there is something here. That's the author's life in a nutshell. This is a great work about an adventurous life well lived

This is a great book--five stars.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have, Behind the Scenes SpecOps Story Sept. 18 2004
By P. J Lambert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wow...for those who are not that familiar with how the Special Operations/Clandestine intelligence communities work, this is your book. Billy Waugh provides an invaluable history of special operations and CIA clandestine operations from the early 60s to the present. To think that someone in his mid-70s is still in the thick of things with regard to the global war on terrorism is amazing.

Waugh's book provides some interesting insights into the genesis of America's interest with Usama Bin Laden, and how close we actually were to him in the early years of his rise.

However the best background this book provides (aside from his unbelievable 10 years in Vietnam with SOG) is his pursuit and role in the capture of Carlos the Jackal. A good review of how case work is done.

If you are looking for serious prose, this book is not for you. However, if you are looking for an incredible page-turner written by someone who was intimately involved in many classified operations, buy this book. Highly recommended!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunting the Jackal July 30 2004
By Miriam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found the book to be engrossing and very enlightening. Waugh shows the rest of us non-military Americans the difficult and sometimes horrible circumstances our military is subjected to, all in the name of preserving our freedom and blessed way of life. After reading this book, my heart and eternal thanks go out to every U.S. soldier, for their dedication and sacrifice. Thank God for our soldiers - without them, our way of life would likely not exist as it does today.

Waugh does a wonderful job of bringing the reader into his world, allowing us to glimpse his experiences in a very personal way. He is a true hero.
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