Fred Burton’s 2024 Summer Reading List

Protectors read books, while travelling, in airports, follow-cars, hotel rooms, or during down time in GSOCs. We especially love a good thriller in our industry, along with thought provoking non-fiction. With that in mind, here are a few perfect summer reads, combined with books that have been turned into television and streaming.

Nuclear War: A Scenario, by Annie Jacobsen 

Annie’s book is thought-provoking, timely, and scary, but the best non-fiction book I’ve read this year. Check out her recent podcast episode discussing her book.

The Unvanquished: The Untold Story of Lincoln’s Special Forces, the Manhunt for Mosby’s Rangers, and the Shadow War That Forged America’s Special Operations, by Patrick K. O’Donnell

In protection, history matters. We learn and adapt, mostly through failure. The Unvanquished is a tremendous look at the origin of special operations by Patrick O’Donnell, a noted military historian. O’Donnell’s in-depth research into secret undercover units, like the infamous “Mosby Rangers,” who terrorized the Union Army, is fascinating and rich with never-before-seen details on covert operations behind enemy lines.

Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan, by Jake Adelstein

Amazing look into the inner workings, bureaucracy, and chaos of the Japanese police, as they battle organized crime. For an author to get your book made into a TV show or a movie is rarified air, and Jake Adelstein has done just that! Tokyo Vice is streaming on MAX with great acting and characters. The TV series is well worth binging, but read the book first!    

Red Sky Mourning, by Jack Carr 

Great title and jacket design.  No doubt Jack’s new book will be a New York Times best-seller because you would be hard-pressed to find a better action character than James Reece, Carr’s fictional kick-ass hero. For years, I’ve been a fan of Jack’s work and consider him a good friend.  The former Navy SEAL is a wonderful person, who continually gives back to the military and protector community. Each book is a stand-alone, but I would recommend reading the books in order, to get a full understanding of the legendary James Reece!  The Terminal List (TV series) is hard to beat tv.

Shadow of Doubt, by Brad Thor 

Brad Thor is the undisputed king of thrillers. As I’ve said for years, if you read one Brad Thor novel, you’ll be a fan for life. Frankly, I could have used Scot Harvath (Brad’s main character) in my counterterrorism and protective intelligence unit in the 1980s and 1990s! We may have won more than we lost with Harvath in our corner. 

The Chaos Agent, By Mark Greaney

Looking for a fast-paced summer action thriller? Turn to “The Gray Man.” Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Also check out the amazing action movie based on the book and character, “The Gray Man,” starring Ryan Gosling.

The Last Days of the Condor, by James Grady 

In 1975, James Grady’s first book, Six Days of the Condor, was turned into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Robert Redford, Cliff Robertson, and Faye Dunaway.  Grady’s The Last Days of the Condor closes the chapter – or maybe not? My fingers are crossed that the Condor will be back.  

Looking for another series to watch? See Condor, currently being shown on AT&T Audience Network. The series, which stars Max Irons, was inspired by James Grady’s first Condor novel.

Capture or Kill, By Don Bentley

Bentley may be the hottest thriller writer in the business. Former Army Apache pilot and FBI special agent Don Bentley has written for Tom Clancy and now takes over the Vince Flynn series.  Unbelievable pedigree, but I’m not surprised. His Matt Drake series are fast-paced, page-turners, and a must read for thriller fans. 

No Shadows in the Desert: Murder, Vengeance, and Espionage in the War Against ISIS, by Samuel M. Katz

The inside story of the covert operation that took down the heads of ISIS, with a focus on the Jordanian intelligence service, one of the best in the business. 

Rosslyn Station:  A Detective Kiki Diaz Thriller, By FX Regan

FX Regan knows crime and law enforcement, as a former street cop and FBI SWAT team special agent turned private eye. Anyone who has ever worked in and around the D.C. Beltway will greatly enjoy FX Regan’s series.  

Enjoy and have a great summer! 

Executive Director, Ontic Center for Connected Intelligence

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Fred Burton