Lost Son: An American Family Trapped Inside the FBI's Secret Wars

In Lost Son, Wall Street Journal national security reporter Brett Forrest (Long Bomb; The Big Fix) tells the story of Billy Reilly, a Midwesterner who became enmeshed in the so-called War on Terror and the U.S.'s increasingly intense rivalry with Russia. Incorporating vast background material, shoe-leather reporting, and a constellation of high-profile and obscure sources, Forrest deftly blends international intrigue with personal drama and the satisfactions of hard-boiled noir.

A son of Oxford, Mich., in exurban Detroit, Billy Reilly was smart and bored with 1990s American life. But 9/11 awakened an immense interest in the outside world to which the family laptop and the Internet connected him. Reilly learned to read Russian and Arabic, converted to Islam, and virtually journeyed into Internet forums far from the physical safety of his parents' home. Drawing the attention of the FBI, Reilly--despite misgivings about U.S. foreign policy--became an informant. He possessed a keen ability to penetrate insular online communities of terrorist cells. However, he proved far less adept at real-world fieldwork and realized he was being exploited with no hope of advancement. Nonetheless, at the FBI's behest, he journeyed in 2015 to Russia and the Donbas region of Ukraine, what would become the beachhead of Russia's much larger invasion. Then he disappeared.

Forrest recounts Reilly's life and traces his disappearance, as well as the family's search for him, through the Kafkaesque labyrinths of the U.S. national security state. Lost Son is a gripping, provocative account of a tragic 21st-century American life. --Walker Minot, writer and editor

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