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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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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