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Undaunted summary

John O. Brennan

My Fight Against America's Enemies, At Home and Abroad

3.9 (22 ratings)
30 mins

Brief summary

Undaunted by John O. Brennan is a memoir that showcases his experience as the director of CIA during remarkable global events. The book covers his pursuit for the truth, public service, and his unwavering commitment to duty and country.

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    Undaunted
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    John Brennan’s early experiences prepared him for a career in intelligence.

    Just west of New York City, past the Hudson River, lies Hudson County, New Jersey. The county is small yet densely populated. It’s long been home to immigrants from all over the world –⁠ including John Brennan’s father, Owen, who sailed to America from Ireland in 1948.

    Growing up in New Jersey, Brennan’s early life was pretty simple. The family was poor, so in order to afford movie tickets and ice cream he took on part-time jobs; he delivered newspapers and pharmacy prescriptions and stocked shelves at grocery stores. In his spare time, he read children’s encyclopedias on American history –⁠ including one where he learned about American spy Nathan Hale, which made him fantasize about becoming a spy himself. At Catholic school, a somewhat rebellious teacher taught Brennan to think independently and question other people’s claims – which prepared Brennan well for his later career.

    The key message here is: John Brennan’s early experiences prepared him for a career in intelligence.

    When he got to college, Brennan began taking courses on international relations and comparative politics. But it was the philosophy and theology courses that left the deepest impression on him. In particular, he was fascinated by the theories of war offered by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Their ideas would travel the world with Brennan during his later roles in the CIA.

    It was also at this age that Brennan got his first taste of life overseas. His cousin Tom was working at the US embassy in Indonesia and invited him to spend the summer there. When Brennan stepped off the plane in Jakarta, he felt as if a door to an entirely new world had been opened for him. The intense smells and the hot air were different than anything he’d ever experienced. The city also offered him his first exposure to the American diplomatic community, whose members impressed him with their patriotism and dedication.

    This wasn’t Brennan’s only overseas experience during this time. At the beginning of his sophomore year, he received a brochure about the American University in Cairo, Egypt. On the way home that same day, Brennan happened to hear a radio broadcast about the assassination of Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal. The political intrigue deepened Brennan’s interest in the region, and a few days later he informed his parents that he wanted to go to school in Cairo.

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    What is Undaunted about?

    Undaunted (2020) sketches the life of former CIA director John Brennan, from his humble beginnings in a blue-collar New Jersey household to his rise through the ranks of the CIA. Packed with political intrigue and personal anecdotes, it’s a remarkable and surprising look at a man who has dedicated his life to keeping America safe.

    Undaunted Review

    Undaunted by John O. Brennan (2020) offers a captivating insider's account of counterterrorism efforts and the challenges faced in protecting the United States. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • This book provides unique insights into the world of intelligence and national security, making it an informative read for those interested in understanding the complexities of counterterrorism.
    • With its personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes details, it offers a firsthand perspective from a former CIA director, making it an authoritative and credible source of information.
    • The narrative's detailed accounts of important events and decision-making processes keeps readers engaged, ensuring it is definitely not a boring read.

    Best quote from Undaunted

    America had finally realized the long-held promise that the threat posed by the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks would one day be eliminated.

    —John O. Brennan
    example alt text

    Who should read Undaunted?

    • People interested in espionage, intelligence work, and international affairs
    • Americans curious about the CIA’s inner workings
    • Memoir lovers

    About the Author

    John Brennan began his 30-plus-year CIA career as an analyst specializing in the Middle East and ended it as the agency’s director under President Obama. Prior to that appointment, he was Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Since leaving government service, Brennan has consulted for several private companies and serves as a senior intelligence and national security analyst for NBC and MSNBC.

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    Undaunted FAQs 

    What is the main message of Undaunted?

    The main message of Undaunted is about the author's experiences and insights in the world of intelligence and national security.

    How long does it take to read Undaunted?

    The reading time for Undaunted varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Undaunted a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Undaunted is worth reading for its compelling narrative and unique perspective on intelligence and national security.

    Who is the author of Undaunted?

    The author of Undaunted is John O. Brennan.