SPY DUST

Solid storytelling brought to bear on engaging material: a real-life pleasure for fans of John le Carré and Tom Clancy.

Fascinating memoir from a husband-and-wife team of spooky gamesmanship in the Cold War’s deadly back alleys.

Writing with the Agency’s blessing, retired CIA spymaster Antonio Mendez (The Master of Disguise, 1999) and agent Jonna Mendez offer a surprisingly open account of the intelligence community’s long, often deadly engagement with its counterparts in Russia, China, and Cuba. As their narrative opens, things have gone badly awry with American spying activities inside the Soviet Union; deep-cover double agents are being executed right and left, hapless Marine guards are letting secrets out of the embassy, and somehow the KGB is always a step ahead of the CIA, thanks in part to near-invisible “spy dust” that enables the Reds to track the movements of our men and women in blue. After the Mendezes learn that they’re being betrayed by Aldrich Ames and other turncoats within the agency, they put that knowledge to work concocting elaborate countermeasures and devious switcheroos. Avoiding the noir clichés of the spy genre, the Mendezes offer an eye-opening look at the complex business of gathering intelligence and spreading a few lies to disrupt the opposition, recounting rules that are “dead simple, and full of common sense: Never make surveillance mad or embarrassed—they will shut you down. Never look over your shoulder or steal free looks in store windows when on the street. Make them think it was their fault that they had lost you, not vice versa, because KGB officers know better than to report their own mistakes.” In the end, they argue, the CIA’s work was more often successful than not, citing no less an authority than former KGB general Oleg Kalugin, who reckoned, “In the final analysis, the score would be five to one in favor of the United States on counterintelligence issues.”

Solid storytelling brought to bear on engaging material: a real-life pleasure for fans of John le Carré and Tom Clancy.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2002

ISBN: 0-7434-2852-8

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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