Brett Forrest Presents Lost Son: An American Family Trapped Inside the FBI’s Secret Wars, in conversation with Shelby Holliday

June 1st
McNally Jackson Seaport
RSVP Required — see below

A young American lost in Russia. An FBI-cover up. A mystery leading from Washington to the heart of the Kremlin's war in Ukraine. 

When Billy Reilly vanished, his parents embarked on a desperate search for answers. Was their son’s disappearance connected to his mysterious work for the FBI, or was it a personal quest gone wrong? Only when Wall Street Journal reporter Brett Forrest embarks on his own investigation does a picture emerge: of the FBI's exploitation of US citizens through a secretive intelligence program, a young man's lust for adventure within the world's conflicts, and the costs of a rising clash between Moscow and Washington.

Sept. 11th roused Billy Reilly's curiosity for religions, war, and the world and its people beyond his small town near Detroit. Online, Billy taught himself Arabic and Russian. His passions led him into jihadi Internet forums, attracting the interest of the FBI.

An amateur drawn into professional intelligence, Billy became a Confidential Human Source, one of thousands of civilians who assist FBI agents with investigative work, often at great hazard and with little recourse. When Russia stirred rebellion in Ukraine, Billy set out to make his mark.

In Russia, Billy's communications dropped. His parents, frantic, asked the FBI for help but struggled to find answers. Grasping for clues, the Reilly family turned to Brett Forrest. Commencing a quest of his own, Forrest applied years' worth of research, along with decades of extensive experience in Russia, illuminating the inner workings of the national-security machine that enmeshed Billy and his family, picking up the lost son's trail.

A masterwork of reporting, composed like a thriller, blending political maneuvering and international espionage, Lost Son illustrates one man's coming of age amid new global dangers.



Brett Forrest is a national-security reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where his investigative work focuses on the former Soviet Union. In the Russo-Ukrainian war, Forrest was the first reporter to reach the town of Bucha and uncover evidence of atrocities. He is the author of Lost Son, The Big Fix (an international bestseller), and Long Bomb. Forrest shared a National Magazine Award at ESPN, where he co-directed the true-crime documentary, Pin Kings, an Emmy nominee. Forrest's international-affairs reporting has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and National Geographic. He has lived and worked in Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, and other countries.





Shelby Holliday is a senior video producer, correspondent and YouTube host for The Wall Street Journal, based in New York City. She primarily writes and produces pieces about geopolitical issues, from superpower showdowns and military conflicts to supply chain snarls and natural resource struggles. Her work also involves contributing to the Journal's investigations and covering U.S. politics and elections alongside the broader newsroom. In 2019, Shelby was part of the Journal team that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Prior to joining the Journal, she was a correspondent for Bloomberg TV and an anchor for the CBS-partnered Channel One News. Her reporting has taken her to Myanmar, China, Rwanda, Kenya, Guantanamo Bay, Guam, Mexico, the Philippines and beyond


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