Fans of le Carré and other spinners of secret-agent tales will find this of considerable interest.



Two former CIA agents stationed in Moscow reveal the ins and outs of spycraft.

The golden days of the espionage aspect of the Cold War may have been the early 1960s, but the contest was still going strong in the late-’70s, when the Mendezes (Spy Dust, 2002, etc.) were CIA operatives in Moscow. It was a heady and dangerous time, they write, whose closing months, dating into the mid-’80s, were marred by revelations of double agents and the quick dismantling of the CIA’s spy network. “The majority of Soviet citizens working for us,” they write, “had been arrested and executed, most of them betrayed by Americans inside the intelligence community.” But before that, there was a world of spycraft to explore, with elaborate disguises, consultations from magicians who helped construct secret compartments, and all kinds of nifty gadgetry, such as “a contraption that would allow an individual to rapidly rappel down an apartment building and return up the rope using an ascension device, which had fondly been nicknamed the Spiderman.” Cool tools aside, the authors make it clear that espionage is a deadly business, and dealing with nations that are good at it requires a special kind of agent and a flexible protocol (the “Moscow rules” of the title). One evolutionary stage of those rules occurred in the 1960s, when the U.S. and U.K. collaborated to “run” a Soviet agent whose intelligence helped prevent the Cold War from turning hot during the Cuban missile crisis. Another was to bring in technical officers “who would never have feet on the ground in an actual CIA overseas operation,” including scientists, graphic artists, and the like. Much of what the authors describe is the quotidian back and forth of spycraft, boredom punctuated by episodes of real excitement; the narrative has the same choppy feel at times, but reading about prosthetics, cameras hidden in fountain pens, and other such things makes for eye-opening entertainment.

Fans of le Carré and other spinners of secret-agent tales will find this of considerable interest.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5417-6219-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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