An unusual, entertaining story of steadfast friendship amid governmental treachery.




A rollicking tale of Cold War espionage focused on the improbable bond between a macho CIA agent and his KGB counterpart.

Russo (Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers, 2006, etc.) and Dezenhall (Glass Jaw: A Manifesto for Defending Fragile Reputations in an Age of Instant Scandal, 2014, etc.) offer a well-researched account, intersecting with the CIA’s betrayal by Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. The institutional pursuit of these turncoats, who caused “a staggering amount of damage,” involved many of the principals here. Previously, in both Washington and Moscow in the 1970s and ’80s, spies with diplomatic covers often became entangled in each other’s recruitment schemes. Rakish, outgoing KGB officer Gennady Vasilenko became involved in the D.C. diplomats’ amateur athletics, making him a prime target of CIA officer Jack Platt, a larger-than-life, hard-living agency tactician. While neither agreed to “cross over” to provide their country’s secrets, they developed a genuine friendship. “Both men were patriotic risk takers,” write the authors. “Both loved their chosen professions and had no respect for the desk jockeys.” Although Platt participated in an operation to “turn” Vasilenko, he respected the Russian’s determination to remain loyal. But KGB suspicions of Vasilenko’s rule-bending ethos prevailed, and he was lured home, imprisoned, and expelled from the service. When the Soviet Union collapsed, his American connections enabled him to pursue business opportunities with Platt, as did many ex–Russian spies. However, the 2001 arrest of Hanssen led Vasilenko’s erstwhile colleagues to target him; he was arrested a few years later and again imprisoned over old allegations of collusion. Following five years of often brutal treatment, Platt’s CIA colleagues added Vasilenko to an exchange for the Russian “illegals” notoriously arrested in 2010 after years of deep-cover spying, finally permitting him a bittersweet American retirement. Russo and Dezenhall aptly capture this complex narrative, based on its protagonists’ long-classified recollections, though the focus on their outsized personalities can be repetitive.

An unusual, entertaining story of steadfast friendship amid governmental treachery.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5387-6131-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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