Well, the mole was caught…but readers expecting a counterespionage thriller will be underwhelmed.

READ REVIEW

CATCHING A RUSSIAN SPY

AGENT LES WISER JR. AND THE CASE OF ALDRICH AMES

From the FBI Files series

A true tale of counterespionage—the identification, stalking, and capture of a devastatingly effective CIA mole.

The second of Denson’s FBI Files casebooks (after The Unabomber,2019) plays more like a comedy than a thriller. Elements include a CIA functionary’s suddenly driving a Jaguar, fending off a shrewish Colombian mistress-turned–second-wife in recorded conversations, and missing a clandestine meeting in Bogotá because he gets the time wrong, as well as lurking FBI investigators who train carefully to pull quick garbage-can switcheroos, take 45 minutes to pick a lock at the suspect’s house, and manage to lose him on Washington streets despite a radio tracer in his car. But there was nothing funny about Ames’ actions—for nearly nine years between 1985 and 1994 he banked nearly $2 million for feeding bundles of top-secret documents to the KGB that, among other disasters, largely wiped out the CIA’s Soviet assets—and the author preserves an earnest tone as he describes the FBI unit’s methodical gathering of evidence, its surveillance procedures, and how Ames and his co-conspirator wife were persuaded to confess. Still, along with being perhaps startled at how easy it apparently was to receive authorization for wiretaps, break-ins, and like assaults on personal rights, readers may well come away marveling at how both Ames and his pursuers seemed to just bumble along.

Well, the mole was caught…but readers expecting a counterespionage thriller will be underwhelmed. (photos, author’s note, glossary, source list, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19916-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A valuable introduction to a vanished North American people, told with nuance, engagement, and rue.

TUNIIT

MYSTERIOUS FOLK OF THE ARCTIC

Before the Inuit came to the Arctic, there were the Tuniit.

The Qitsualik-Tinsleys offer readers an introduction to this prehistoric people, twining scientific findings with Inuit legend and even Inuktitut grammar to provide a window on the early Arctic. Without going into anthropological specifics, the husband-and-wife team, who include Inuit, Cree, and Mohawk in their combined heritage, introduce the notion that the Tuniit may not have been human before going on to say that they lived in settlements, originated the intricate stone cairns known as inuksuit, and were short, strong, and shy. They introduce snippets of traditional lore that claim supernatural powers for the Tuniit and that build a strong case for the eventual assimilation of the Tuniit by the encroaching Inuit. Anthropological discoveries validate the existence of the Tuniit and their disappearance as a distinct culture and genotype. Bigham contributes moody oil paintings and ink drawings; shifts in typeface seem to indicate corresponding shifts in mode that highlight the persistence of the Tuniit in Inuit legend, though this is not consistent. The authors clearly wrestle with the understanding that Inuit ancestors displaced an earlier indigenous people, introducing real poignancy to their exhortation that their readers respect the Tuniit by remembering them: "We remember a fate that no culture should have to endure."

A valuable introduction to a vanished North American people, told with nuance, engagement, and rue. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-927095-76-8

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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