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THE SPY IN MOSCOW STATION

An immersive, dramatic, and historically edifying work.

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A National Security Agency engineer attempts to uncover a leak in the American Embassy in Moscow in this real-life Cold War thriller.

In 1978, Gus Hathaway, the CIA chief of station at the U.S. Embassy in the Soviet capital, made an unconventional decision that was unlikely to win him either friends or approval: He asked another intelligence agency, the National Security Agency, for help. The stakes for Hathaway, though, were immeasurably high—the KGB was discovering and executing American assets, and he suspected a leak somewhere within the Moscow embassy. It was a reasonable hypothesis, as the “KGB bugging of the embassy was an accepted fact of life.” Also, he knew that the KGB transmitted microwaves into the most information-sensitive areas of the building, although the CIA couldn’t figure out why. To make matters worse, American operatives discovered that a chimney shaft, from which one could sometimes hear “mysterious scraping noises,” wasn’t connected to any actual fireplaces; it was likely a KGB listening post of some kind. Hathaway recruited the help of Charles Gandy, an engineer at the NSA who’d risen to the highest levels of civilian authority and was a ranking member of R9, a group considered the “most prestigious and glamorous at NSA.” Haseltine (Brain Safari, 2018, etc.), with all the painstaking scrupulousness of an investigative journalist, details Gandy’s remarkable efforts to produce a “smoking gun” that could prove the Soviets were spying on the embassy—evidence that could justify a complex countermission that he himself had designed. Haseltine is a former director of research for the NSA—his boss there, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, contributes a foreword—and his expertise is beyond reproach. His research here is breathtaking, drawing on a bevy of sources, including his own interviews with Gandy as well as declassified U.S. governmental documents, often reproduced here at great length. In fact, his thoroughness can be a bit overwhelming at times; readers will often find themselves buried under mounds of minute detail, much of it forbiddingly technical. Even so, the story as a whole has all the power and intrigue of a cinematic thriller. In one memorable scene, for instance, Gandy was visited in his working quarters at the embassy by a “KGB honey trap,” a beautiful woman who attempted to gain access to his room; no one could figure out how she—and her male escort—managed to make it past embassy guards. The story isn’t only about the contest between Americans and Russians, but also about the turf-war rivalry of the CIA and the NSA. One declassified CIA memorandum, in shockingly explicit terms, notes the “NSA’s new feeling of importance” and its “ceaseless effort to assert itself more vigorously in the intelligence process.” Gandy, in particular, emerges as a captivatingly complicated figure—endlessly motivated to defeat his adversaries but also impressed by their ingenuity. The book ends with provocative reflections on what Americans can learn from the Russians about espionage today and on interagency cooperation.

An immersive, dramatic, and historically edifying work.

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30116-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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