SPOOKS by Jim Hougan
Kirkus Star


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Spooks is a tidal encyclopedia about the private use of secret agents by multinational corporations and the rich, compiled (with considerable secrecy) by the Washington editor of Harper's Magazine. His shifting center is Mitch WerBell (The Wizard of Whispering Death), an OSS veteran, who now operates The Farm in Georgia, a clandestine factory devoted to perfecting the tools and techniques of sniping, counterinsurgency, and the coup d'etat. WerBell invented the fantastic silencer for the lightweight machine-pistol that fires 14 rounds per second, whispering phyyt. phyyt. He bankrolled his corporation with multimillionaires (many are named herein), sold arms to ldi Amin, Arabs, Jews, and any comers. Hougan is exhilarating on the Spook mystique, showing how they ape movies, TV, and books--life imitating art imitating life. He looks into Fidelifacts, Audio Intelligence Devices, National Intelligence Agency and hundreds of similar spook agencies, many of them staffed by former federal agents and CIA folks now using their intelligence skills against the public. Some are hired by millionaries like Norton Simon to smuggle priceless works into the U.S. Others take on industrial espionage jobs against unions. Questions: Did bugging genius Bernard Spindel, an intimate of Jimmy Hoffa, who was bird-dogged by Bobby Kennedy, bug Jack Kennedy in bed with Marilyn Monroe? Spindel said he did, and his wife says he did. Spindel was subsequently ""framed by the Justice Department and. . . institutionally murdered"" in prisons, she claims. Hougan's speculations on this clammy subject are intriguing and get less and less farfetched as he goes along. Was old Kennedy hand Walter Sheridan (strong candidate for ""Deep Throat""), part of a plan to frustrate Watergate burglars and did he have a bug on the old Kennedy presidential taping system that Nixon was using? How did Deep Throat get such thorough information on Nixon's cash flow otherwise? And so it goes: wet jobs (assassinations), Caribbean invasions, Vesco wheeling and (double?) dealing, the death of wireman Bobby Hall, Howard Hughes as spook-employer supreme, new thoughts on the Kennedy assassination, the role of spooks for multinationals like ITT. . . . An awesomely interwoven secret history, disentangled with panache.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1978
Publisher: Morrow