Excerpt: “American Reboot”

Mar 14, 2022 By Will Hurd
Updated: Dec 27, 2023
Us Embassy Kabul
U.S. Embassy in Kabul

I’m a former member of Congress, cybersecurity executive, and officer in the Central Intelligence Agency. “American Reboot: An Idealist’s Guide to Getting Big Things Done” is my first book. Learn more about why I wrote American Reboot

“American Reboot” is a classic American story and a blueprint to build a future based on the shared values that have solved the challenges of the past. 

Read an excerpt below:

In October 2000, shortly after graduating from A&M, I joined the CIA. After taking two journalism classes in Mexico City the summer after my freshman year, I added international studies as a minor. In the first class I took for my new minor, I had a guest lecturer who was a badass former CIA officer named Jim Olson. He told the most amazing stories about the National Clandestine Service, and I knew I wanted to do what Jim had done. I submitted an application, took a bunch of tests, and was grilled during tons of interviews before I was hired. For almost a decade, I recruited spies and stole secrets all over the world. My responsibility was to stop terrorists from conducting attacks around the world, prevent Russian spies from stealing our secrets, and put nuclear weapons proliferators out of business. I was working at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, when the world acted in unison following the attacks on the U.S. Homeland by al-Qa’ida on September 11, 2001; and I was operating on the ground in Kabul in 2009 when debates raged about whether the war in Afghanistan required a “surge of troops.”

For almost a decade, I recruited spies and stole secrets all over the world.

In addition to collecting intelligence, I was called upon to brief members of Congress. In late 2008, a congressional briefing in Afghanistan changed the trajectory of my life, and that day began with a resonating boom at four a.m.

I shot upright in bed, trying to figure out if it was a dream or real life. The window rattled so hard that it nearly shattered. I wrapped myself in a blanket, rolled off the bed and onto the floor.

“Duck and cover, stay away from the windows, seek shelter, and await further instructions,” a pre-recorded voice blared over the speakers through- out the apartment complex where most of the American employees in Kabul lived.

I was the head of a branch in the CIA station, and I knew the chief of station—the senior-most CIA officer in Afghanistan and my boss—would task my unit to figure out who had carried out this attack.

I verified the safety of the officers under my command and instructed them to assemble in the secure conference room once the all-clear signal was given. I slid my nine-millimeter Glock 19 pistol into a concealed leather holster in the back of my pants, pulled a black sweater over my Kevlar body armor, and left my apartment to get to work.

When the all-clear was sounded, my trusted deputy, Heather, and I met with our team, providing them with a comprehensive summary of what we had learned about the attack. Before outlining a plan of action, we asked each officer whether they had people within their stable of recruited assets and contacts who might be able to provide insights on the morning’s events.

I needed information by that afternoon, because I would be asked about it during a scheduled briefing for a congressional delegation from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) that happened to be visiting. HPSCI (pronounced “hip-see”) is one of two congressional committees devoted to monitoring intelligence activities on behalf of the American people.

As I walked into the conference room for the briefing, I overheard several Congressmen ask the person handling the logistics for their visit: “Is the CIA going to cut this briefing short so we can get to the bazaar to buy rugs?”

Rug shopping? That’s what they were thinking about right now? I was pissed, and the briefing hadn’t even begun.

During the ensuing conversation, I was asked why we weren’t seeing more cooperation between the Taliban and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). I began explaining how the Taliban was Sunni and the IRGC was Shia.

One of the Congressmen raised his hand and asked, “What’s the difference between a Sunni and a Shia?”

I assumed he was going to make a terribly inappropriate joke. And who was I to stand in his way? So I played along.

“I don’t know, Congressman—what’s the difference?” I asked with a big smile.

The congressman’s chubby face turned bright red, his eyes widened, and his body stiffened. He had no idea what the difference was between the two main sects of Islam. Not a freaking clue.

The congressman’s chubby face turned bright red, his eyes widened, and his body stiffened.

It’s okay for my brother Chuck not to know this, because as a cable company sales manager, this piece of information isn’t important for him to know. But this should have been easy stuff for these Washington, DC, intelligence “experts.” They were determining how to allocate billions of taxpayers’ dollars on national security. They were making decisions on sending our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to war zones. But they lacked a basic understanding of one of the greatest global threats facing the U.S. and the rest of the world, and they were more interested in going rug shopping.

My mom would always tell my siblings and me, “You’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.” It was time to be part of the solution.

A year or so before the Kabul briefing, the solution had been introduced to me at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Washington, DC, by Stoney Burke, one of my closest friends, and his best friend from college, a wily political operative named Josh Robinson. Stoney gave me the idea to run for Congress in Texas 23, and Josh gave me the plan. Ever since that first conversation at La Lomita Dos, Josh, an early mentor to Justin Hollis—the guy who would oversee all my successful elections as my campaign manager and political consigliere—gave me the confidence that I could do it.

I was an unlikely congressional candidate. Before I ran, there wasn’t a big history of people from the CIA running for office. A rare exception was Porter Goss, a former CIA office who served in the House for fifteen years before going on to serve as CIA director and in other key leadership posts. Elective office is more of a career destination for former military officers or lawyers. It wasn’t considered a traditional path for an A&M computer science major who had been in the CIA and hadn’t lived in Texas for a decade.

Stoney and Josh Robinson pointed out that serving in Congress would be a way to address problems that had frustrated me in the CIA—including ignorant congressional Representatives who preferred rug shopping over doing their jobs. They opened my eyes to the notion that it was a chance to use my CIA skill set to provide a different perspective on national security issues.

Because Texas 23 includes portions of San Antonio, it was a natural place for me to run because it was where I was born and raised, although most people I knew thought I was crazy to leave a job I loved and was good at. But I had to follow my mom’s advice to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Will Hurd Holding American Reboot

American Reboot debuts on March 29, 2022. It’s available NOW for pre-order here.


Excerpted from “American Reboot” by Will Hurd. Copyright © 2022 by Will Hurd. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

American Reboot

An Idealist's Guide to Getting Big Things Done

Star Rating Star Rating
4.5 out of 5 Based on 132 reviews

About the book

Will draws on his unique experiences in back alleys of dangerous places, boardrooms of international businesses, and the halls of Congress to lay out a detailed plan to “reboot America,” offering a fresh start to a country mired in political divides and internal strife.

Mike Yantis, Jr.
Star Rating Star Rating
Verified Purchase

Will Hurd tells a great story about his life and his experiences in the CIA, private business, and as a Congressman.

The book also serves as a playbook for like minded Republicans that want to transform the party from the extremes of Trump back to a solutions based party that actually gets things done.

Star Rating Star Rating
Verified Purchase

This is one of the best books I have ever read. Part personal story, part political analysis, but mainly just common sense thinking and analysis of solutions to problems.

Will Hurd is an amazing writer and person and I expect to see him do great things in the future.

Star Rating Star Rating
Verified Purchase

This was a great read. As someone who tends to identify as an Independent or moderate, I thought Mr. Hurd made some great points and offered thoughtful solutions.

I hope he considers a run for political office again, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat.

Star Rating Star Rating
Verified Purchase

A life long Republican I had lost hope that I would ever vote Republican again after the extremist views have taken over the party over the last 6 years.

This book covered all my values & concerns in a nuanced way that the majority of politicians today seem incapable of doing.

Hurd has the biography and the charisma and the God-given political chops to put the Republican Party — and the rest of the country — on notice.
The Atlantic
Fox News Logo
The Wall Streel Journal Logo
CNN Logo
CBS News Logo
ABC News Logo
USA Today Logo
Quote Mark
America has become an exceptional nation not because of what we have taken but because of what we have given.

Will Hurd

Will Hurd Image
Play video
June 18, 2023
New Cold War Between U.S. and China Explained
Will's op-ed in the The NH Journal about migration and border control.
Close video popup

About Will

Will Hurd has spent the past 20 years on the front lines of the most pressing fights facing our nation, in the Middle East, Congress, and the highest levels of business and tech.

Will has spent his life fighting for our country, and he will take those decades of experience with him as he fights for all us.

Quote Mark
I dream of an America where we have the smartest kids in the world. Every child in the U.S., regardless of location or age, should have access to a safe, world-class education.


The choice we face

In every decision we make, we stand at a crossroads. The path of division and quick fixes is well-trodden, but it’s time we consider a different route – one paved with unity and foresight.

Imagine an America where common sense prevails, where policies are crafted with the people’s best interests at heart, and our collective strengths are the foundation of national progress.

This is more than a possibility. It’s a choice we can make right now. By coming together, we have the power to foster a nation that champions innovation, inclusivity, and integrity.

What do we agree on?

Believe it’s important to protect free speech
Believe college education is important for success
Support the development of alternative energy sources
Believe it is essential to maintain Social Security
Support background checks for all gun buyers
Believe that LGBTQ+ individuals should have equal rights
Say it is important for the country to do more regarding race inequality
Are unhappy with the current US economy
Believe the federal government doesn't share enough information
Are concerned about pollution of drinking water
Believe the nation's infrastructure is in need of major repairs
Believe that access to affordable housing is a problem
Politico Magazine

The future of the GOP

Daily Dot

The most interesting man in Congress

Allegheny College

Prize for Civility in Public Life


Blocked by the most Chinese Diplomats


Sanctioned by Vladimir Putin

Hear from People

What’s a modern republican look like?

We’re a nation full of people with these values. If this describes you, you might be a modern Republican.

Respectful and Polite

Strong old school manners. You respect others, and say "please" and "thank you"


You give someone a fair shot


You're ready to put yourself in the shoes of someone else.


No matter street smarts or book smarts, you understand an education is important

Family Values

You put your family above everything and do everything you can to succeed


You take responsibility for your actions and believe in personal responsibility


You help others and you're always quick to smile


You don't let a little hardship get in your way


You know that we're better together and you are ready to help
AI Summary