The Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI

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Of all the tools available to law enforcement, the living, breathing undercover operative remains the gold standard. This is true in TV shows and in the real world. In the era of electronic surveillance, UC work enforces accountability; it prevents mistakes, and of all the boots on the ground, undercover agents are often the most valuable.

The FBI generally has about 100 UC agents working full-time in the field. In the 1990s and 2000s, Marc Ruskin had the most diverse, and notorious, case list of all, and the broadest experience within the bureaucracy, including overseas. He worked ops targeting public corruption, corporate fraud, Wall Street scams, narcotics trafficking, La Cosa Nostra, counterfeiting—and gritty street-level scams and schemes.

Sometimes working three or four cases simultaneously, Ruskin switched identities by the day: Each morning he had to walk out the door with the correct ID, clothes, accessories and frame of mind for that day’s mission. Meet Alex Perez, Alejandro Marconi, and Sal Morelli, just a few of Ruskin’s undercover personas.

And how is the right UC agent chosen, how is a bogus identity manufactured and “backstopped,” how is the Bureau's long-term con painstakingly assembled? No one has ever given us the inside story like Ruskin. The Pretender is the definitive narrative of undercover ops—the procedures, the successes, the failures--and the changes in the culture of the new-era FBI.

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About the author

MARC RUSKIN spent 20 years as an FBI Special Agent for which he was awarded five commendations. A graduate of Vassar College and Cardozo Law School. Ruskin also served on the staff of U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan and as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn. Following his retirement from the FBI in 2012, he has divided his time between a law practice in New York and Liaoning Province, China, where he writes and studies Mandarin.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Macmillan
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Published on
Jun 6, 2017
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781466877108
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Law Enforcement
Political Science / Law Enforcement
True Crime / Organized Crime
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Get ready to infiltrate the dangerous, secret world of criminals and cover identities by way of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)—where the world’s greatest undercover agents are known as RatSnakes.

RatSnakes are rarely, if ever, visible to the public they move among and risk their lives to protect. In fact, because of their cover personas, they’re often assumed to be members of the clandestine criminal world they investigate. Real undercover work is a far cry from the sexy, candy-colored world you’ve seen in movies.

Vincent A. Cefalu would know. He spent 30 years as an ATF undercover operative, in assignments ranging from the Symbionese Liberation Army to Asian organized crime. He has infiltrated notorious outlaw motorcycle gangs as well as splinter groups of the Ku Klux Klan, and in RatSnakes he provides an up-close look at the organization and the operatives with whom he risked his life.

In this heart-pounding thrill-ride, Cefalu takes readers on a tour of what it’s like to confront death on a daily basis. En route, he gives us a look at the on-the-job techniques of kicking in doors, orchestrating “street theater” to ensnare criminals, and making high-stakes gun buys. His irreverent, explicit stories from the inside are a mix of danger and unexpected hilarity that will have readers laughing one minute and then biting their nails when things break bad.

Immersive and brutal, RatSnakes offers an in-depth look into the lives of an elite group of men and women who volunteer to do things most couldn’t stomach.

IN AMERICAN GANGSTER, THE FEDS TOOK DOWN INFAMOUS HEROIN DEALER FRANK LUCAS. BUT THE KINGPIN BEHIND LUCAS’S CRIMINAL REIGN, LEROY “NICKY” BARNES, REMAINED “MR. UNTOUCHABLE.” UNTIL ONE UNDERCOVER AGENT PROVED TOUGH ENOUGH—OR CRAZY ENOUGH—TO INFILTRATE HIS DOMAIN AND NAIL THE MOST DANGEROUS DRUG CZAR IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

Growing up in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where physical violence was a daily reality at home, at school, and on the streets, Louis Diaz had what it took to survive—and to one day become what he vowed to be: a man of uncompromising principles who is “compassionate on the inside, fierce on the outside.” These were the qualities, along with his street fighter’s steely nerves and hair-trigger temper, that drove Diaz from his savage beginnings and early forays in organized crime to become one of the DEA’s bravest undercover agents—the man who was instrumental in tak­ing down some of the nation’s and the world’s most notorious crime rings.

In an unforgettable and utterly engaging first-person narrative, Diaz tells his gritty, colorful, painful, and even humorous life story—a story with all the raw emotional power and bare-knuckle action of Wiseguy or Serpico. From his headline-making cases of Nicky Barnes and the Medellín cartel . . . to his account of outwitting a key villain linked to the record-breaking heist known as The Great English Train Robbery . . . to his all-out confrontations with murderous gunrunners and drug dealers on the mean streets of New York . . . to leading commando raids on clan-destine cocaine labs inside the Bolivian jungles, Dancing with the Devil is an explosive memoir that stands as a classic of true-crime literature.
From the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the outlaw Hells Angels Motorcycle Club comes the inside story of the 21-month operation that almost cost him his family, his sanity, and his life.

Getting shot in the chest as a rookie agent, bartering for machine guns, throttling down the highway at 100 mph, and responding to a full-scale, bloody riot between the Hells Angels and their rivals, the Mongols—these are just a few of the high-adrenaline experiences Dobyns recounts in this action-packed, hard-to-imagine-but-true story.

Dobyns leaves no stone of his harrowing journey unturned. At runs and clubhouses, between rides and riots, Dobyns befriends bad-ass bikers, meth-fueled “old ladies,” gun fetishists, psycho-killer ex-cons, and even some of the “Filthy Few”--the elite of the Hells Angels who’ve committed extreme violence on behalf of their club. Eventually, at parties staged behind heavily armed security, he meets legendary club members such as Chuck Zito, Johnny Angel, and the godfather of all bikers, Ralph “Sonny” Barger. To blend in with them, he gets full-arm ink; to win their respect, he vows to prove himself a stone-cold killer.

Hardest of all is leading a double life, which has him torn between his devotion to his wife and children, and his pledge to become the first federal agent ever to be “fully patched” into the Angels’ near-impregnable ranks. His act is so convincing that he comes within a hairsbreadth of losing himself. Eventually, he realizes that just as he’s been infiltrating the Hells Angels, they’ ve been infiltrating him. And just as they’re not all bad, he’s not all good.

Reminiscent of Donnie Brasco’s uncovering of the true Mafia, this is an eye-opening portrait of the world of bikers--the most in-depth since Hunter Thompson’s seminal work—one that fully describes the seductive lure criminal camaraderie has for men who would otherwise be powerless outsiders. Here is all the nihilism, hate, and intimidation, but also the freedom—and, yes, brotherhood—of the only truly American form of organized crime.
Features new material on the Golden State Killer's case and an updated afterword by Patton Oswalt.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR:

Washington Post | Maureen Corrigan, NPR | Paste | Seattle Times | Entertainment Weekly | Esquire | Slate | Buzzfeed | Jezebel | Philadelphia Inquirer | Publishers Weekly | Kirkus Reviews | Library Journal | Bustle | Mother Jones | Real Simple | Crime Reads | Book Riot | Bookish | Amazon | Barnes and Noble |Hudson Booksellers New York Public Library | Chicago Public Library

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards for Nonfiction | SCIBA Book Award Winner | Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

 

The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case—which was solved in April 2018.

Introduction by Gillian Flynn • Afterword by Patton Oswalt

“A brilliant genre-buster.... Propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading.”   —Stephen King

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle's dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

“Fun…and full of smart science. Fans of CSI—the real kind—will want to read it” (The Washington Post): A young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner, and the hair-raising cases that shaped her as a physician and human being.

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation—performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587.

An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners—complete with grisly anecdotes, chilling crime scenes, and a welcome dose of gallows humor—Working Stiff offers a glimpse into the daily life of one of America’s most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies—and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on television to reveal the secret story of the real morgue. “Haunting and illuminating...the stories from her average workdays…transfix the reader with their demonstration that medical science can diagnose and console long after the heartbeat stops” (The New York Times).
#1 New York Times Bestseller
#1 Washington Post Bestseller
#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller

On March 16, 2018, just twenty-six hours before his scheduled retirement from the organization he had served with distinction for more than two decades, Andrew G. McCabe was fired from his position as deputy director of the FBI. President Donald Trump celebrated on Twitter: "Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI - A great day for Democracy."

In The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, Andrew G. McCabe offers a dramatic and candid account of his career, and an impassioned defense of the FBI's agents, and of the institution's integrity and independence in protecting America and upholding our Constitution.

McCabe started as a street agent in the FBI's New York field office, serving under director Louis Freeh. He became an expert in two kinds of investigations that are critical to American national security: Russian organized crime—which is inextricably linked to the Russian state—and terrorism. Under Director Robert Mueller, McCabe led the investigations of major attacks on American soil, including the Boston Marathon bombing, a plot to bomb the New York subways, and several narrowly averted bombings of aircraft. And under James Comey, McCabe was deeply involved in the controversial investigations of the Benghazi attack, the Clinton Foundation's activities, and Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

The Threat recounts in compelling detail the time between Donald Trump's November 2016 election and McCabe's firing, set against a page-turning narrative spanning two decades when the FBI's mission shifted to a new goal: preventing terrorist attacks on Americans. But as McCabe shows, right now the greatest threat to the United States comes from within, as President Trump and his administration ignore the law, attack democratic institutions, degrade human rights, and undermine the U.S. Constitution that protects every citizen.

Important, revealing, and powerfully argued, The Threat tells the true story of what the FBI is, how it works, and why it will endure as an institution of integrity that protects America.

The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.
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