An immersive, dramatic, and historically edifying work.

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THE SPY IN MOSCOW STATION

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

NIGHT

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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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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