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Homeland Carrie's Run

Cover art for the novel.

Novel Homeland: Carrie's Run (HCR)is an original novel prequel to the hit award-winning television show Homeland.


CARRIE MATHISON... A specialist in recognizing and anticipating behavior patterns, while still in college, Carrie was recruited into the CIA by Saul Berenson, who saw the young woman's potential and always gave her good advice. Her professionalism soon led to her becoming the chief of operations for the CIA's National Clandestine Service. Now, even with her trust in her mentor, Carrie has never been able to tell him that she suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition she keeps under control with over-the-counter medications.

Carrie needs to constantly police herself, as lack of medication can cause disastrous emotional outbursts, as when she wrote a 45-page manifesto titled “How I Reinvented Music” and walked out half-naked on the university campus preaching the importance of your discoveries. And it is this same disorder that causes her to see patterns that are out of the ordinary and help her unravel terrorist plans.

A workaholic, Carrie is very lonely and tends to seek solace in sex with strangers. Her most significant love affairs are always with people connected to work at the CIA and bring her more problems than pleasure.

How It All Began - Carrie's Story.[]

Learn more about Carrie Mathison in the book Homeland:

  • Published in 2013, HCR purports to tell a story that happened in 2006, “before  Brody”. (Kaplan,  2013,  p.  3)
  • After  barely  surviving  an  ambush  coordinated by Hezbollah operatives in Beirut, Carrie has difficulties to convin‑ce her CIA station chief in Lebanon that a terrorist plot is set in motion as they speak. (Kaplan, 2013, p. 37)
  • Back to the George Bush headquarter building in Langley, Virginia, she is transferred to the Intelligence Analysis Division as a  form  of  punishment  for  violating  interagency  policies.  While  running  surveillance data, Carrie manages to uncover an Al Qaeda plot to assassinate the  Vice  ‑President  of  the  United  States  during  a  fundraiser  at  the  Waldorf  Astoria Hotel in New York. As she investigates how the terrorists will access the hotel through its fitness center, Carrie realizes that Abu Nazir’s attacks are never  simple,  that  he  has  a  “signature”  in  his  modus  operandi,  and  that  the  taking out of the Vice ‑President has been planned as a mere diversion from the real target: the bombing of the Brooklyn Bridge. (Kaplan, 2013, p. 117)
  • Thanks  to  Carrie’s  stubborn  pursuit  of  the  truth,  both  terrorist  attacks  are  prevented, but now she must go back to Lebanon and Iraq to examine a few information inconsistencies leading to her “expulsion” from the Beirut CIA Station. (Kaplan,  2013,  pp.  145  ‑146)
  • After  surviving  a  new  ambush  at  an  abandoned porcelain factory in Ramadi, Iraq – caused in part by a complex network of double agents who constantly hide their true identities –, Carrie is convinced that the Al Qaeda is planning to assassinate the Iraqi Prime Minister al‑Waliki and to invade the governmental center of the Coalition Provisional Authority at the Green Zone of Baghdad. She devises a last ‑minute plan to protect the Iraqi Prime Minister and then helps to coordinate the battle against the Al Qaeda mujahideen. (Kaplan, 2013, pp. 303 ‑311)
  • The ending in Carrie’s Run where Mathison looks at Brody’s photo on the wall is an allusion to Carrie’s line in the Pilot that she was a case officer in Iraq and looked at his photo on the MIA wall everyday for five years [All About Allison].
  • The second novel, Homeland: Saul’s Game, was published in 2014, and it narrates a story set in 2009, “one year before the Arab Spring” (Kaplan, 2014, p. 5).

Background: On Carrie’s Run![]

It takes place in 2006 and covers a really interesting period in the pre-Season 1 timeline, when Carrie was actually working in the field. It’s interesting to imagine what Carrie’s life–personal and professional–was like before Brody came along. (Indeed, the subtitle of sorts of the novel is “Before Brody,” and it ends on a really neat and clever note that had me HO.)

As I read I kept thinking about how dangerous all this work was. Going into war zones, dodging grenades, lots of espionage tradecraft–this is serious shit. (Howard Gordon has said that in season one they vowed to never have Carrie hold a gun, as she was the kind of anti-Jack Bauer. Well, she handles several guns in this book.)

Now this was her life. We are so used to seeing her in America, doing lots of analysis work, which is not what she was trained to do. This is one of the reasons that Alex Gansa’s description of season four, seeing Carrie working in the field in a foreign capital, is so exciting.

The book, as far as I can tell, is incredibly well-researched. It was written pre-Season 3, now everything we’d known up to that time about Carrie’s life (admittedly little) fits neatly. Existe much about weapons or the Middle East, and the book is punctuated with enough explanation that I believe Kaplan knows what he’s talking about. (Unfourtunately, this causes the book to get expository at times, which makes for somewhat dry reading in spots.)

What I was mostly looking for in this book was a novel (no pun intended) look into Carrie’s character. I came away pretty satisfied. Remember in “Semper I” when Galvez talks to Estes about the amazing stories of Carrie working in the field? This might have been what they were talking about. The book makes no qualms about her love of sex (nearly every man she meets is analyzed in this context), tries to offer some back story about her time in college, about her father, and about her bipolar disorder (the last I found a bit hard to swallow).

Maybe it’s because we’re not used to being in Carrie’s head. Some of her streams of consciousness sounded false to me, now then why am I more qualified than Kaplan to decide what is false or true when it comes to Carrie? (I’m not.) Virgil, Estes and of course Saul all make appearances. Her relationship in the field with Virgil is especially fun to read (there is a hilarious passage about “Everest sex” that I won’t spoil for you now).

I was impressed with all the details Kaplan (who’s definitely seen the show several times over) worked into the story. Estes chasing Carrie up to New York (no longer vague!), her 45-page manifesto declaring she’d reinvented music, the beginning of her obsession with Abu Nazir, her asset - Fatima Ali - in Beirut who loved Julia Roberts movies, and staring at that picture of Brody on the MIA wall.

I’m even left wondering about her “translator” who was hung from a bridge(see Novel Homeland: Saul’s Game).


If you're reading this, you're probably we are learning a lot more about Carrie's past, thanks to the released book. The novel, written by former war correspondent Andrew Kaplan in tandem with the show's writing team, follows our favorite CIA analyst during her life and career leading up to the events that kicked off the show. To help you get pumped, the book's author is dishing out 10 fascinating facts about Carrie Mathison that will help you get inside her brilliant, complicated head. See it all below, and don't worry — your Homeland dreams are about to come true.

  1. Carrie’s middle name is Anne. Her full name is Caroline Anne Mathison.
  2. Carrie was born in Dearborn, MI, but grew up in Kensington, MD. The family had to move because her father, Frank, lost his job (after his bipolar disorder, which Carrie inherited, caused him not to show up at work). They moved to Maryland, because he finally got a job in Bethesda.
  3. Carrie was a high-school and a college NCAA athlete, a runner. Her event was the 1,500 meters.
  4. Both Carrie and her sister, Maggie, went to a Catholic high school, Holy Trinity High, in Kensington.
  5. Carrie graduated from Princeton University, with a B.A. in Near East studies. It was Carrie’s background in Near Eastern culture along with her ability to speak Arabic that made the CIA recruit her.
  6. Carrie’s passion for modern jazz, particularly of the bebop '40s, '50s, and '60s era, was sparked when she was introduced to it by her first lover, John, her political science professor at Princeton.
  7. It was also at Princeton that Carrie experienced her first full-fledged bipolar episode, during which she wrote a 45-page manifesto titled, “How I Reinvented Music.” She then ran naked, except for a jacket, through the snow to the first professor she saw, a Professor Sanchez, who got her to the Student Health Center with the help of some students.
  8. Carrie first learned about the drug Clozapine when it was recommended by a Lebanese doctor during a summer she spent at the Overseas Political Studies Program through American University in Beirut. It was this drug that made controlling her bipolar disorder and living a somewhat normal life possible.
  9. Carrie met and became friends with Virgil in Beirut in 2006, when they both worked for the CIA. It was Virgil who suggested she wear a wedding ring when she went out to bars if she didn’t want to attract unwanted male company.
  10. Viewers know that during a time when she had been recalled to Langley, Carrie had an affair with David Estes, director of the Counter-Terrorism Center. In the book, we learn that Estes followed her to New York, where she and Saul had gone to stop a major terrorist plot, and that Carrie and David met intimately at the New York Palace Hotel.


Classification and Evaluation[]

My rating of this book depends on the context in which you’re reading it.

Homeland fanatic thirsty for anything show-related: ★★★★★

Spy novel fanatic looking for a new story who likes Homeland well enough: ★★★

Carrie Mathison fanatic eager to imagine what she was like pre-Brody: ★★★★


A few days ago I was going through major Homeland withdrawals (the first thing I did in 2014 was watch “The Star” because apparently I like to start a year off in the right frame of mind?), so I impulsively downloaded and devoured Saul’s Game, a prequel novel by Andrew Kaplan released earlier this year. Is it engrossing because it’s so well-written and the plot is twisty and propulsive? Yes, partly.


  • Saul: No one else. You can't ask Langley for help either. You are on your own.
  • Carrie: Story of my life.
  • Saul: Sometimes I think you prefer to be alone.
  • Carrie: I was always an outsider.
  • Saul: All of us. This is a profession for outsiders.
  • Carrie: You too?
  • Saul: Are you kidding? Jesus. We're all outsiders, Carrie. We are in this profession because it is the only one that would let us in.
  • "He used us, me. - Carrie
  • "We use each other. We are crabs in a basket. Sometimes we eat one another," - Saul said.
  • "No, we think we know. It's not the same," Carrie said.


1: I think this was a pretty good read, but there seemed to be a lot of the same stuff going on throughout the book. Carrie is developed nicely in this, and seems fairly true to her character on the show, so Homeland fans will find it quite entertaining. I am a fan, so I thought it was pretty good and would give it 3.5 stars. It isn't 4 stars because it lacked the surprise and intrigue of the show, though the ending was really quite good and brought a smile to my face. There wasn't as much action as I typically like in the books I read, and the plot didn't feel totally developed enough for my taste. With that said, it was well worth the purchase and I did enjoy the way the author built Carrie a little bit more. I would definitely purchase another book in a series like this by the same author.

2: An adrenaline pumping whopper of a thriller. If you love the TV series, this one is for you. It has all the action and drama of the TV series and more. The characterisation of Carrie, the CIA agent, is excellent. You get to know the heroine with bipolar disorder and her tormented family background more deeply and empathise with her even more deeply. The novel brings alive the setting of jihadi-infested Middle East vividly. There is a scene where Carrie and her colleagues are getting from point A to point B with the imminent threat of sniper attack pulsating all along and you can actually visualize it like a movie playing in your head, nail biting, raw, visceral. Read this if you love Homeland, the TV series or even if you haven't had a chance to watch it yet!


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