As well paced as a le Carré novel, with deep insight into the tangled world of Cold War espionage.




It’s spy vs. spy in Khrushchev-era Berlin, and countless lives are in the balance.

As the Cold War began to grind its way through the 1950s, notes former Washington Post military reporter Vogel (Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation, 2013, etc.), British and American intelligence agencies began to look for ways to intercept Soviet signals. The telephone was obvious, and British agents had already used the tunnel network of Vienna to tap into Soviet lines. But Berlin was the better locale: “Just as all roads led to Rome, all calls—including to and from Moscow—were routed through Berlin.” Thus, an ambitious tunneling project was put into motion only for the Allies to be thwarted when the Soviets learned of the tunnel, a discovery that afforded the possibility of “a big propaganda splash” when Khrushchev made a state visit to London. Why hadn’t the tap been detected when it was first made? “Everyone must have been quite drunk,” commented an East German technician after taking a look at the alien cables. For all that, Khrushchev kept mum, knowing that if he revealed that the Soviets knew about the tunnel, they would provide clues as to who had made them aware of the project—that source being an overly confident British double agent named George Blake. In time, Blake was discovered and jailed only to break out of prison and make his way across the Iron Curtain in a daring escape. Combing through declassified documents and intelligence archives and drawing on interviews with Blake, Vogel delivers a swiftly moving, richly detailed, and sometimes improbable narrative, surpassing an earlier study of the tunnel affair, David Stafford’s Spies Beneath Berlin (2003).

As well paced as a le Carré novel, with deep insight into the tangled world of Cold War espionage.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-244962-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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