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Friday, September 21, 2018

One Thing Leads to Another...Espionage Books

Ben MacIntyre has a new book:  The Spy and the Traitor:  The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, and I want it.

The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

Another MacIntyre book from the Cold War period is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.   This one has on my mind since recently reading Kate Atkinson's Transcription. I want to read both The Spy and the Traitor and A Spy Among Friends because MacIntyre writes nonfiction so well.  


 I've enjoyed a couple of Ben MacIntyre's nonfiction books about WWII.  My favorite was Operation Mincemeat:  How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory.  What a great film this one would make!

From my review:  Maybe the reason the entire plan reads something like a novel is that so many of the individuals involved in one way or another were already novelists or became novelists.  While truth is often stranger than fiction, it helps if those who conceive and construct such a complicated plan have the imagination of fiction writers.  I lost count of how many writers were involved from start to finish.  The most famous, although his role was small, was Ian Fleming.  No wonder the Bond stories were so popular, Fleming had all the experience one might need with espionage, double-thinking, and dreaming up ways to confuse or mislead the enemy.



Reading about Ian Fleming's role in Operation Mincemeat eventually led me to read The Man with the Golden Typewriter.  What a pleasure to read the correspondence between Fleming and people like Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, and Raymond Chandler.  

The letters were all interesting in so many ways.  Reading each one was a pleasure, and my opinion of Ian Fleming rose as I read the book.  He was not just the author of sensational novels, but a former Naval Intelligence officer, a friend of some of the most talented authors of the day, and a charming and witty correspondent.  

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7 comments:

  1. I love when one book leads to another, especially when a subject matter grabs me and I want to read more. These all sound really good.

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    1. :) Reading itineraries can be so interesting--one book leading to another and new books connecting to those previously read.

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  2. I would be really interested in the Ian Fleming letters, sounds fascinating.

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    1. Having only connected Fleming to the Bond books and films, I was surprised when reading Operation Mincemeat several years ago to learn about his role in Naval Intelligence, but The Golden Typewriter is a fascinating book about his post-war life, his friends, and his letters. Really good!

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  3. All of these sound so good! I have no idea when I'll find time to read any of them, but they're all going on my list. :)

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  4. I had no idea about Ian Fleming's role. I bet this was a fascinating look at his life via his letters. Very cool!

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