Fred Burton knows the ins and outs of counterterrorism and investigative work. For about two decades, he lived it. And, he says, it was living that life that got him hooked on reading about it.
When I was a special agent in the 1980s, I used a black diplomatic passport and flew aboard Pan Am Clipper Class flights and U.S. Air Force Special Air Missions from Andrews Air Force Base. I could never sleep on a plane. I (like a lot of other special agents) read spy novels many times as I zigzagged around the globe on the hunt for the people behind various plane crashes, bombings, hostage-takings and hijackings. They kept my mind busy.
These days, Burton hosts Stratfor's popular "Pen and Sword" podcast. He still gets to bask in the fast-paced, exciting, and sometimes dangerous world — but from a cozy chair. Between reading and conversing with authors such as Annie Jacobsen, Kate Winkler Dawson, Brad Thor, Jack Carr, and Mark Greaney, Burton continues his own work as chief security officer at Stratfor, an advisor on public safety for many other organizations and writing best-sellers about his career.
Sometimes, stuffed inside my Ghurka carry-on bag, right next to my spy books, was a sealed, bright orange diplomatic pouch, containing classified documents or evidence from an attack. I never quite understood why the diplomatic pouch was bright orange? I would have made it black.
If you're interested in reading the books that kept Fred Burton awake and alert on many a clandestine flight, he shared some of his favorites below.
Fred Burton's Non-Fiction Reading List
The Craft of Intelligence, by Allen Dulles
To Catch a Spy: The Art of Counterintelligence, by James Olson
The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, by Kai Bird
Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al Qaeda Terrorists, by Samuel L. Katz
The Secret World: A History of Intelligence, by Christopher Andrew
Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton — The CIA's Master Spy Hunter, by Tom Mangold
Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and Bin Laden's Final Plot Against America, by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman
Fred Burton's Fiction Reading List
Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, by John LeCarre’
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John LeCarre’
The Human Factor, by Graham Greene
The Tears of Autumn, by Charles McCarry
The Day of The Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
Six Days of The Condor, by James Grady
Agents of Innocence, by David Ignatius
The Cardinal of The Kremlin, by Tom Clancy
Spymaster, by Brad Thor