A highly detailed, engrossing work that incorporates a history of fledgling Georgia amid the author’s well-demonstrated...



For 10 years, lawyer Pullara pursued the mysterious 1993 murder of diplomat and CIA agent Freddie Woodruff in the Soviet Republic of Georgia. In his first book, he unspools his findings.

An expert in complex commercial litigation who felt a “suspicion about the sincere pronouncements by the US government” after he had completed a long investigation into the dubious circumstances of his father’s death in the Vietnam War, the author, who knew Woodruff’s family earlier in his life, did not buy the official version of Woodruff’s murder. After postings in Berlin, Leningrad, Ankara, and Ethiopia, Woodruff was working at the embassy in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi when he was murdered on a mountain road (supposedly “a random act of violence”) during a “sightseeing trip” in August 1993. The car had been driven by the chief bodyguard of Eduard Shevardnadze, who had become acting chairman of the State Council of Georgia after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. As Pullara vividly recounts, so many of the details didn’t make sense—e.g., that Woodruff was in Georgia to train Shevardnadze’s security force, as well as the numerous ill-fitting circumstances about the murder itself. Moreover, when the murder was conveniently blamed on Anzor Sharmaidze, a young former Soviet trainee, evidently under torture, the author sought to figure out the role CIA operations officer and secret Russian spy Aldrich Ames might have played in the affair; Ames was arrested by the FBI for espionage less than two weeks after Sharmaidze was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1994. From diving deep into FBI documents to repeatedly visiting the country and tracking down the shadowy protagonists, Pullara does a fine job of sleuthing to get at what he believes is the truth.

A highly detailed, engrossing work that incorporates a history of fledgling Georgia amid the author’s well-demonstrated “passion for mysteries…[and] memory for trivia.”

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5213-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


"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

Did you like this book?