I think fiction must use a different part of the brain. I wouldn't read an academic analysis of CIA-ISI relations til past midnight, but after a long day of travel, I stayed up hours to finish reading this book.
As it happens, the other day I ran into an American diplomat who is an expert in the Middle East and strongly recommended Ignatius' previous novel, The Increment, about Iran.
So what should foreign policy wonks read on the beach this summer? I'd say the complete works of Ignatius, which amount to a grand tour of the Middle East -- start with Agents of Innocence (Lebanon, and worth the price of admission just for the stomach-churning chapter in the middle about being an Israeli agent in Syria) and work your way with him through the region.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.