I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. What is the Network? -- p. 130:“The Network's original goal was to establish a structure, to be activated in times of need, to penetrate key groups relevant to British interests in the Middle East and gather information on their activities. It operated independently of the more conventional intelligence services, with which its relationship was collaborative when necessary, but for the sake of secrecy never shared operational details." The Network by Jason Elliot is an awesome book! It is a must-read for anyone interested in Middle Eastern politics, the intelligence community, or if you are an avid conspiracy theorist. The author mixes in real life events and characters with his own story to make a compelling read. The Network follows the career of Anthony Taverner a former British army officer. Anthony or Ant is recruited for a special mission in Afghanistan to destroy a large cache of Stinger missiles. The year is 2001, a few months before the events of September 11. But nothing is as it seems.I loved the entire book. The first two chapters reminded me of a James Bond movie. There is a great chase scene through the English countryside. Our hero is kidnapped, tied up, and beaten to assess his worthiness for the mission. Ant is then assigned a training partner, and his name is “H”. How absolutely British spy like!The author makes insightful observations of how the intelligence community operates. Where there is a mission to destroy missiles, there also seems to be a secondary mission involved that is not compatible with the first. Confused? Welcome to the world of deniable operations. Jason Elliot’s descriptions of Afghanistan made me feel like I was there. The lack of roads, government, and infrastructure made me think of just how wild and untamed this part of the world is. Yet, the author also makes the country beautiful with his descriptions of the mountains. He is also very respectful of the population, portraying them very favorably. I really loved Anthony’s character. I found him to be pragmatic, dedicated, and generally likable. Anthony did not take decisions lightly, and one of the things that I enjoyed about this book was the thought processes he used in order to agree to join the mission. I loved that he was portrayed as a human being, with an “evil” ex-wife and two beautiful daughters living far away in Washington. Anthony also found a love interest in Jameela, his contact in the Sudan.Probably one of my favorite scenes in the book was where Anthony had to make a hasty departure from the Sudan. He called his American “cowgirl” friend to help a British agent escape from Sudan with Canadian papers. Truly a global effort!The only thing that I felt was missing from this book was a map of Afghanistan to highlight Anthony's route. It would have been helpful just to get an idea of the distances traveled. I feel that I have learned a lot from this novel. What a phenomenal first novel for Jason Elliot. I hope he keeps on writing!