A real-life Cold War tale filled with nostalgia, exuberance and satirical wit.

READ REVIEW

HOW NOT TO BECOME A SPY

A MEMOIR OF LOVE AT THE END OF THE COLD WAR

Lifflander’s debut memoir of his time as an aspiring spy in Moscow, where he fell in love with a Russian woman who may have been keeping an eye on him for the KGB.

Lifflander thought his dream of being a spy had come true when, as a recent graduate in 1987, he got a job as a driver/mechanic at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. He was soon assigned to the On-Site Inspection Agency, part of the treaty between the USSR and U.S. to eliminate nuclear missiles; essentially, the American OSIA ensured that the Soviets were implementing the treaty. Sofia was one of the Soviet “escorts,” comprised mostly of young ladies who oversaw the U.S. inspectors while also (covertly) watching for potential intelligence-gathering. Lifflander and Sofia tried to hide their developing romance but quickly realized that hiding a relationship isn’t easy when you’re surrounded by spies. Both the author’s title and foreword hint at the story’s tongue-in-cheek approach: Lifflander refers to the USSR’s alarming shortage of socks as the “sock crisis”; and he notes that a chef at the missile inspection facility graduated from the CIA—the Culinary Institute of America. But Lifflander doesn’t force the humor; it’s derived from the absurdity of countless situations and twisted activities, like the Americans’ intermittently moving a trio of pink flamingos for no other reason than to keep the ever observing Soviets guessing. Lifflander’s predicament became considerably dourer when the KGB suspected he was an intelligence officer, though it was a hilarious misunderstanding: He was digging through basement walls in an American building searching for a bug merely out of boredom. The book’s final act, however, which centers on Lifflander and Sofia’s (and Sofia’s son, Max) trying to make a future together, turns somber and somewhat depressing. The story’s still engaging, though, even without the laughs, thanks to Lifflander, whose refusal to give up on a life with Sofia is something to be admired. Lifflander includes a number of black-and-white photographs to complement the text, but his descriptions are so dynamic and graphic that the pictures aren’t necessary; for instance, when Lifflander and Sofia walk into a cathedral and a “sea of babushkas,” readers will already have the image.

A real-life Cold War tale filled with nostalgia, exuberance and satirical wit.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692259948

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Gilbo Shed

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

more