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10 Best David Ignatius Books (2024)

Best David Ignatius BooksJournalist First

The author I will introduce to you in this writing is someone better known for his journalism, David Ignatius. He has written eleven successful novels to date with ten of them being spy fiction while also serving as an ongoing associate editor and columnist of The Washington Post. His novels are praised for being enjoyably realistic, mostly thanks to his exposure to politics and intelligence operations as a journalist.

The multi-layered author was born on 1950 in Cambridge -the American city in Massachusetts, not the United Kingdom. He was undeniably influenced by his Armenian descendant father who is a former Secretary of the Navy and Air Transport Association as well as the still-serving president of The Washington Post. Not to forget that his family was also multi-cultured as his mother is of German and English ancestry.

Exceptional Education

The author unsurprisingly has an impressive educational career. He completed his primary and secondary education at St. Albans School in the city he spent his early years, Washington D.C. Afterward, he took the political theory degree program in Harvard College and graduated with –magna cum lade- honors., he also studied and graduated from Cambridge’s economics department.

Best David Ignatius Books

The Quantum Spy


A Real Threat

The first piece I’ll go over in this list is the most popular of David Ignatius’ books. It is centered around the technological race between USA and China to develop the first-ever fully functioning quantum computer. A computer that can bypass even the most complicated and well-developed cyber-security measures instantly. It sounds very horrifying, doesn’t it? Well, for those of you who don’t know, quantum computers are actually in development in our world too.

In the story, we follow the CIA officer Harris Chang as he is trying to persecute a mole on the run. Said mole is thought to be a Chinese informant as well as the reason for a gigantic jeopardization of the USA’s quantum technology research centers. Harris Chang’s doubt and uncertainty filled investigation of this person takes him all the way from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico as well as the darkest corners of his mind.

Almost a Prophecy

The Quantum Spy has a great chance of being dubbed the best David Ignatius novel in the future. It handles maybe the greatest conflict that could take place in our near future and it does this on both a personal and a political level. It’s almost as if the author didn’t intend to be a fiction piece but predictions of the future, based on the collective experience he owns.



Complicated Matters

Bloodmoney takes second place among our David Ignatius book reviews. The book’s majority is concerned with the external affairs of the CIA’s middle eastern operations. The setting we are introduced to is one where the CIA has agents located in Pakistan with the purpose of negotiating peace. However, as is usual with the Middle East, things do not go according to plan and someone is supposedly killing the agents.

It is the rookie CIA agent Sophie Marx whom the duty of resolving this issue is given. The agent starts off her journey in the United States territories, mainly gathering intelligence from affiliate establishments and her higher-ups. As she eventually has to get closer to the place of conflict, however, the case she is covering becomes less and less clear. Things, as is also usual with the Middle East, don’t always turn out to be as they seem and conflicts arise.

Key Flaws

Bloodmoney brings all the ingredients for a page-turner thriller together. The plot is plausible and explicable and the writing of the book is simply best-seller material. However, it misses out on being the best David Ignatius book due to its irregulated pace and characters who sometimes fail to feel like real, mature, and rational people. 

Body of Lies


Surprisingly Disturbing

Next up among David Ignatius’ best books is perhaps the most disturbing one out of them all. The title “Body of Lies” might have evoked a concept of undercover agents or an intelligence network in your mind but it actually refers to a literal body. A dead body, to be exact, that is altered and almost played around with to seem like an imaginary person.

Intricate Plan

The creator of this body of lies is Roger Ferris, another CIA member but this time with the role of a soldier instead of an agent. He serves in Iraq for some time and he is rewarded for his bravery with a broken leg and the mission to serve his country by infiltrating the network of a highly influential terrorist as he can no longer fight on the battlefield. He creates the body of lies in the image of a CIA agent who has already penetrated the terrorist Suleiman’s intelligence and he aims to use it as his primary tool.

In The Belly of The Beast

My favorite part of the book was the soldier’s hands-on approach to the whole situation. Having been through the worse of it already, Roger Ferris is not afraid to get the job done himself. He doesn’t rely on intelligence or resources so much as he does on himself. It really amplified the thrill and intensity of the situation for me to follow the protagonist in the middle of the action.

Agents of Innocence


Debut Piece

Agents of Innocence catches attention with being the first of the best-rated David Ignatius books. It is also known as the book that started the author’s journey as an icon of the espionage-thriller genre. That’s right, it was the first spy book by David Ignatius in publication order. Yet it surprisingly manages to be a more than decent book despite the lack of experience the author had while he was writing it.

Historical Story

The story is about the relationship of the CIA case officer and protagonist Tom Rogers with an agent located in Beirut. The duo’s relationship is kicked off as an impersonal rivalry. That is, Tom Rogers is tasked with infiltrating the intelligence agency the other agent is a part of. I will not tell you much more as to not spoil anything besides the rest of the book being revolved around the global events taking place in the sixties and seventies.

Opportunity Missed

For me, the author hit the bullseye in this book with his knowledge of the conflicts of the past. If Quantum Spy was a prophecy of kinds, Agents of Innocence is the exact opposite of it. One thing that bothered me greatly about it was the lack of character development. You would think there’d be enough time for it in the twenty years the book takes place but the author fails to utilize this great advantage for development.

The Director


Every President’s Dream

The second of the best selling David Ignatius books, The Director takes place in a world where a president could manage what many before him aspired to do. There have been countless attempts by multiple, even the majority of, presidents to limit the workings of the CIA or outright disband it completely. Although they all have failed in their attempts, the president in this book succeeds in influencing the organization.

Just one week after the President of The United States’ appointment of the self-made billionaire Graham Weber as the Director of the CIA, the agency comes face to face with a crisis that could lead to its destruction. And it all starts with a Swiss boy wearing a stained, unkempt shirt entering Hamburg’s American consulate. The CIA has been hacked he claims, with all of the operation and personnel information available to the hackers. After which, he hands in a list of CIA agents’ real identities as a piece of proof.

I Can’t Tell You Why But…

Before everything, The Director is a horrifying book. To even just think of these events happening in real life is enough to send shivers down my spine. Besides this wonderful theme of it, the book shines with its excellent pace, thrilling episodes, and superb writing quality. Still, I fear it is not among the best novels by David Ignatius for me solely because certain crucial things -which would be spoilers- just didn’t make sense to me.

The Increment


Breath of Fresh Air

We are continuing our David Ignatius books ranked list with a piece that offers a breath of fresh air for long-time fans of the author. In The Increment, the author gets out of the borders of the CIA and includes a British spy team in the book as well. I can’t speak for all of you but I highly appreciated this decision of Ignatius as reading solely about the CIA lost its charm for me after two or three books.

In the story, the CIA’s integrity is once again at risk. It starts off by introducing us to the chief of the CIA’s Persia House, Harry Pappas, and an undercover scientist taking a part in one of the Iranian weapon programs. Red flags rise with the scientist being followed by an unknown person and the chief decides to take control of the situation by working with the elite British spy group named “The Increment”.

An Almost Ominous Setting

What this book really did well was to create a feeling of things happening without neither my nor Harry Pappas’s knowledge. Something big was going on, there was perhaps a grave danger present but it was all a secret that was kept from me. But still, is this one of the best books by David Ignatius? With multiple cliches used in the characters and the agonizingly slow pace, I wouldn’t have to think too hard before saying no.

A Firing Offense


Showing Us His Journalist Side

A Firing Offense was a highly promising book for me as it is one of the top rated David Ignatius books. This story’s protagonist, refreshingly, is not a CIA member but the owner of a newspaper. This may seem like the kind of thing to start describing a book to you and if that is the case, I would like to remind you the author of these books is also a world-renowned journalist.

There is not much about the story I can share with you without spoiling the book. The main lines of the story are that there is an international trade war taking place and the protagonist of the story is fed information about the war by a CIA agent. While the protagonist is happy with the news content he is receiving, he fails to realize that he has slowly become a part of the event.

Realistic and Relatable

The main advantage of this book is the author’s experience in journalism that I have hinted at in the first paragraph. Ignatius is no stranger to the inner workings of these matters and he is able to create a realistic and relatable story thanks to that. Along with being as unique a piece as it is, A Firing Offense definitely has a place in my best David Ignatius novels list.

The Paladin


Same Probe, Unique Story

In the latest book by David Ignatius, the author takes his usual “Hackers threatening to bring down everything important to us, for no reason at all.” but surprisingly manages to make it unique. It is the story of Michael Dunne, an undercover agent working for the CIA. His duty is to investigate an American-led Italian news outlet on the grounds that they are involved in illegally using government secrets.

Patiently Waiting

The real story, however, begins when Micheal Dunne is betrayed and basically used as a scapegoat. He is plotted against to look anti-American and is thrown in jail for a whopping ten years. During his sentence, his life basically goes down in ruins as this costs him both his career and his family. Unfortunately for the wrong-doers, Dunne gets a lot of free time in prison to think about them. Mainly about what they did to him, and how he is gonna make them pay.

A Promising Development

In his new book, David Ignatius seems to have given the character developments the attention they deserve. This is maybe the biggest stepstone he has passed in his career in my opinion. Normally a writer couldn’t get away with paying their characters as little attention as David did but he could afford it thanks to his previous experience and fame as a journalist.




Next up in our David Ignatius book list, we have “Siro”. A book that is often overlooked since it isn’t really the “best” anything. It is one of those books that get lost in a writer’s portfolio. Nonetheless, I think Siro still has some things to offer to the readers. Mainly, the personal-moral side of it which the author does not usually include in his stories.

Good Old Days

This story follows Anna Barnes, a trainee in the CIA training program who is about to graduate. She was recruited by a CIA member who has a longing for the “old CIA”, Alan Taylor. Alan thinks the CIA is evolving to be a group of political puppets and desk workers instead of the bold and independent agents it used to be. He instills this vision onto his recruit Anna and we see the lengths she goes through during two missions to uphold Alan’s standard.

Not An Action Story

I liked Siro because of its genuine side. It doesn’t try to play into a spy stereotype instead, it tells the story of an intelligence agency worker with all of the “ordinary” emotions they might have and without the one-hour-long shootout sequences and blow-up scenes.  I think this piece could have been David Ignatius’ best book if only had he put more effort into it.

The Bank of Fear


Disturbing Influence

The last piece contending for the best David Ignatius book title is The Bank of Fear. It is a post-9/11 story focusing on the Middle East with its name also being a reference to the event but I won’t get too much into that. It revolves around the greed of the political figures, continually spreading corruption.

We witness the events unfold from the narrative of Sam Hoffman, an American private financial investigator living in London. The company he works for usually works with big corporations and people with at least a modest amount of wealth. He gets a little out of this work field when a Filipino cook asks Sam to start an investigation on his employer who is supposedly the murderer of his wife.

The Good and The Bad

My thoughts about this story are a little bit complicated. At first, the plot of the movie feels a bit surreal if not outright absurd and the characters are almost comical, especially the foreign ones. These get better as the story goes on and while it never came to the point where they were decent, they got tolerable. The story was actually enjoyable once I got used to the flaws but still, is The Bank of Fear a book good? I would have to say no.

Robert Hazley

Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)