More than 700 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘espionage’

Money-laundering and the Russian mob

A review of Single & Single: A Novel, by John le Carre @@@@ (4 out of 5) John le Carre established his well-deserved fame in the early 1960s on the basis of the espionage fiction that reflected his career in Britain’s Security Service (MI5) and Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Over the five decades since then,… Read More ›

A revisionist history of intelligence in World War II

A review of The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, and Guerrillas, 1939-1945, by Max Hastings @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Shelves-full of history books have been written about the triumphs of Allied intelligence in World War II. The Ultra Secret. The Man Who Never Was. Operation Mincemeat. Agent Zigag. Double Cross. A Man Called Intrepid. I’ve… Read More ›

An extraordinary episode in Israeli history

A review of The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph @@@@ (4 out of 5) The history of the state of Israel is one of continuous war punctuated by intermittent stretches of peace. The open military conflicts the young nation has experienced have always threatened its continuing existence, but none more… Read More ›

Russian agents under cover in the UK

A review of Breaking Cover (Liz Carlyle #9), by Stella Rimington @@@@ (4 out of 5) A prominent civil liberties advocate named Jasminder Kapoor is saved from muggers on a London street late at night by a passerby. Within weeks, she has fallen in love with the man, a Norwegian banker. There is something a… Read More ›

Gay life in 1950s Britain

A review of Exposure, by Helen Dunmore @@@@ (4 out of 5) Though marketed as an espionage thriller, this captivating novel is more precisely about the fragility of gay life in the UK half a century ago. It quickly becomes obvious that this will turn out to be a major underlying theme in the action… Read More ›

15 good nonfiction books about espionage

For good or ill, a fair amount of what I’ve learned about espionage over the years has come from reading spy stories. A few authors are particularly diligent about research and accuracy, so most of what I’ve picked up is probably true. In fact, many of those authors are veterans of the intelligence game and… Read More ›

35 biographies worth reading

It’s just become clear to me that I’ve read a lot of biographies since I began posting book reviews in January 2010. More than three dozen, actually. I’m listing here the 35 that I can recommend, omitting several that underwhelmed me (in addition to others I couldn’t finish reading). As you can see, most of… Read More ›

Soviet spies on the loose, with an anthropologist to the rescue?

A review of Fellowship of Fear (Gideon Oliver #1), by Aaron Elkins @@@ (3 out of 5) How far can a writer push the bounds of credibility in a thriller? If we look at the work of authors whose protagonists resemble superheroes more than real people — Ian Fleming, for example, or Daniel Silva, to… Read More ›

An extraordinary World War II spy story grounded in historical fact

A review of The Best of Our Spies, by Alex Gerlis @@@@@ (5 out of 5) A number of excellent nonfiction books have been written about the exploits of British Intelligence in World War II, some of them by the practitioners themselves. Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben McIntyre stands… Read More ›

Wondering why nearly all my book reviews are favorable?

If you’ve read more than a few of my book reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I rate every book on a five-@ system, and that I usually award books a rating of @@@@@, @@@@, or at least @@@. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve described a book as less than @@@ more than a couple… Read More ›