Cover image for Hunting the jackal : a special forces and CIA ground soldier's fifty-year career hunting America's enemies
Hunting the jackal : a special forces and CIA ground soldier's fifty-year career hunting America's enemies
Waugh, Billy, 1929-
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 235 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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JK468.I6 W38 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Billy Waugh is a Special Forces and CIA legend, and in Hunting the Jackal he allows unprecedented access to the shadowy but vital world he has inhabited for more than fifty years.

From deep inside the suffocating jungles of Southeast Asia to the fetid streets of Khartoum to the freezing high desert of Afghanistan, Waugh chronicles U.S. Special Operations through the extraordinary experiences of his singular life. He has worked in more than sixty countries, hiding in the darkest shadows and most desolate corners to fight those who plot America's demise.Waugh made his mark in places few want to consider and fewer still would choose to inhabit. In remarkable detail he recounts his participation in some of the most important events in American Special Operations history, including his own pivotal role in the previously untold story of the CIA's involvement in the capture of the infamous Carlos the Jackal.

Waugh's work in helping the CIA bring down Carlos the Jackal provides a riveting and suspenseful account of the loneliness and adrenaline common to real-life espionage. He provides a point-by-point breakdown of the indefatigable work necessary to detain the world's first celebrity terrorist.

No synopsis can adequately describe Waugh's experiences. He spent seven and a half years in Vietnam, many of them behind enemy lines as part of SOG, a top secret group of elite commandos. He was tailed by Usama bin Laden's unfriendly bodyguards while jogging through the streets of Khartoum, Sudan, at 3 A.M. And, at the age of seventy-two, he marched through the frozen high plains of Afghanistan as one of a select number of CIA operatives who hit the ground as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Waugh came face-to-face with bin Laden in Khartoum in 1991 and again in 1992 as one of the first CIA operatives assigned to watch the al Qaeda leader. Waugh describes his daily surveillance routine with clear-eyed precision. Without fanfare, fear, or chance of detection, he could have killed the 9/11 mastermind on the dirty streets of Khartoum had he been given the authority to do so.

No man is more qualified to chronicle America's fight against its enemies -- from communism to terrorism -- over the past half-century. In Hunting the Jackal, Billy Waugh has emerged from the shadows and folds of history to write a memoir of an extraordinary life for extraordinary times.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

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 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.



Hunting the Jackal A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier's Fifty-Year Career Hunting America's Enemies Chapter One As I waited to die in a rice paddy in Bong Son, South Vietnam, on June 18, 1965, with green North Vietnamese Army (NVA) tracers searing past my naked, immobile body, my mind was not occupied by fear or regret. No, I drifted in and out of consciousness, my body perforated with gunshot wounds, leeches feasting on every open wound, with one thought jabbing at my semilucid brain: Damn, my military career is finished. I'll never see combat again. Through eleven years in Special Forces and twenty-seven months in Southeast Asia, I had never been bashful when it came to combat. I lived for it, studied it, and understood it. I knew the risks and did not fear death. Still, I had never come close to being in a spot like this -- flat on my back, shot to hell, lying behind a meager bamboo stand that provided pathetic protection. I was out of ammunition and gear. I had taken bullets to my knees, an arm, an ankle, a foot, and my forehead. The bones of my right foot and ankle sat there fully exposed, doing me absolutely no good while causing a breathtaking amount of pain. The force of one of the bullets had driven the sole of my right jungle boot through my foot and ankle and into my tibia. I could not crawl, let alone walk. The enemy had already gotten to me, stripping me and leaving me for dead. In this state, I apparently was not deemed worthy of the extra bullet that would have clinched my death. I was all alone, not a friendly in sight. There was no assurance that I would ever leave this bloody field or see the world from an upright position again. And still the NVA kept firing. We had pissed the bastards off something fierce, and they weren't going to stop until every last one of us was as dead as I appeared to be. Their infernal green tracers were whizzing over my head, mocking my defenselessness, popping like cannon fire around my head as they broke the sound barrier. The kerosene smell and blast-furnace heat of the napalm blanketed that rice paddy, brought there by the Air Force F-4C Phantom and Navy F-8 jets screaming above. When I took stock of my own dire predicament, peering through the now-crusted blood from the wound that had torn open my forehead, comprehending my utter nakedness, wondering how and why I continued to live, I began to ask myself a different question: When all this is over, how in the hell am I ever going to con my way back to the battlefield? Getting into the battlefield was all that ever mattered to me. From the moment I joined the U.S. Army as an eighteen-year-old, I have never been content to sit back and hear of others' exploits. My desire to be among the troops at the point of attack struck me first in early 1951, when we were at war in Korea and I was stuck in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I had had more than enough of the 82nd Abn. Div. and was tired of stateside duty, so in April 1951 I reenlisted for combat in Korea, which means I signed on for another three years of service just to get my ass out of the United States and into the war zone. I didn't like the Army at all until I got a taste of combat in Korea. I advanced from a private first class to an infantry platoon sergeant while in Korea. More important, I learned what made men tick, and what combat was all about. For the first time in my military life, I felt completely at home. I could have asked for a more forgiving landscape than Korea, which was like no other place. We'd climb a hill, with great expectations of meeting the enemy, only to arrive at the top to see another, slightly larger hill looming. All the trees were stripped for firewood, and cold penetrated my bones. I was only twenty-one years old, so I handled the cold much better than later in life, but we Texans and Floridians in Korea were continuously cold. As far as wars go, Vietnam, with its insufferable humidity and constant heat, was much more to my liking. Upon returning from Korea in December 1952, I entered Officers' Candidate School in Fort Benning. During the twelfth or thirteenth week, I contracted malaria and spent a week in the hospital. To return to OCS, I would have had to revert back to the eighth week, since my class was too far advanced for me to catch up with it. I refused this move and was sent to Germany as a sergeant first class and assigned to the 5th Infantry Division as a platoon sergeant. It was during my stay in Germany, sometime in 1953, that I read about Special Forces moving a unit to Bad Tolz, Germany. I began politicking for a transfer to SF, and I made a trip to Bad Tolz to see for myself. Once I learned what these fine men -- the fittest and most committed group I had ever seen -- were to become, I knew it was the only place for me. I immediately cranked an intertheater transfer and had it granted, to the 10th Special Forces in Bad Tolz. From the moment I joined those fine and fit men, I knew I was there to stay. It was, by far, the best move I ever made in my life. I might leave Special Forces, but Special Forces would never leave me. So as I lay on the ground in the Bong Son rice paddy, I was forced to imagine my life without the Special Forces, without combat, without an enemy to fight. I didn't like the thoughts that raced through my head, so I shoved them out of my mind and went to work thinking about what it would take to get my body back together and back where it belonged, on the field of combat ... Hunting the Jackal A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier's Fifty-Year Career Hunting America's Enemies . Copyright © by Billy Waugh. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Hunting the Jackal: A Special Forces and CIA Ground Soldier's Fifty-Year Career Hunting America's Enemies by Billy Waugh, Tim Keown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.