UNDERCOVER: The Secret Lives of a Federal Agent by Donald Goddard

UNDERCOVER: The Secret Lives of a Federal Agent

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The exciting story of an unlikely tough guy, Michael Levine, a Jewish kid from the Bronx who grew up on the wrong side of the law before channeling his karate, cunning, and street savvy into a career with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Goddard has previously authored, among other books, a bio of Mafia chief Joey Gallo as well as Easy Money (1978), about the Asian drug trade. This isn't a book for the queasy, as Goddard vividly brings the dangerous job of a drug agent to life. Levine's forte was impersonating types so expertly that he could easily infiltrate any group. At various times, he was a Puerto Rican peddler of hot cigarettes, hawking them for a buck a carton in an after-hours gambling mecca in Queens (""I got cigarettes, meng. Ju wanna buy. . .modder-fockin' cigareets?""); an American Nazi Party member (""The only Jewish Nazi in America"") passing out leaflets in Manhattan to prove his credentials; a priest; and a member of a motorcycle gang. In earlier years, he even served as a bodyguard when dignitaries such as Nixon, Humphrey, LBJ, or George Wallace visited New York. Goddard intersperses the more sensational narratives with quotes from Levine's current training sessions with new federal recruits. These quotes are where we really get to know just what makes Levine tick. (""You get to love the idea of flirting with death. In the middle of everything, you got to enjoy knowing that your life depends on your ability to outthink the danger""). Levine, however, is no wild-eyed gunslinger ("". . .having to kill people kind of spoils the effect. . .working undercover is so full of danger and unexpected twists that if you can do it without killing it's more satisfying""). Wild, woolly, and as gritty as the mean streets down which Levine hunts his prey; photos add to the authenticity in this daring, engrossing story.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1988
Publisher: Times Books