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review 2017-10-18 01:46
The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames - Kai Bird

"THE GOOD SPY: The Life and Death of Robert Ames" is a book with a dual character which tells a history of U.S. diplomatic and espionage activities in the Middle East during the Cold War. First, it is a story about a most remarkable CIA officer, Robert Ames, who devoted the whole of his 23 year career in the Middle East to helping develop and secure peace in that troubled region through engaging with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at a time when the U.S. disavowed any contacts with it. And it is also a story of the evolution of U.S. Middle East policy between the 1960s and the early 1980s. 

Reading "THE GOOD SPY" rekindled some of my earliest memories of the Middle East from the 1970s. And for that reason, it was both refreshing and a much appreciated learning experience to receive from Kai Bird fuller accounts and analyses of events as diverse as the Black September murders in Munich during the 1972 Summer Olympics; the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975; the courage Egyptian President Anwar Sadat displayed in his attempts to make peace with Egypt's erstwhile enemy, Israel, which culminated in the Camp David Accords of 1979; and the 2 tragic events of 1983 in Lebanon which profoundly altered the U.S. approach in dealing with what is now (as was then) a seemingly intractable conundrum in the Middle East. 

"THE GOOD SPY" is a book I recommend to anyone who wants to understand why efforts to obtain peace in the Middle East have proved illusory since 1948. It also gives the reader insight into the sincere efforts of Bob Ames (he was one of the CIA's premiere Arabists who spoke fluent Arabic and loved the people of the Middle East and its varied cultures) to help provide a platform from which Israelis and Palestinians could establish ways of peaceful coexistence and reconciliation - and the realization of the 2-state solution and a lasting peace.
 

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url 2017-10-06 00:22
InD'tale Book Review of Incognito

Bouquets and Brickbats for Incognito by InD'tale.

Source: www.indtale.com/reviews/suspense-thriller/incognito
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review 2017-07-25 18:34
A STORY OF LIFE UNDER THE TIGHTENING YOKE OF NAZI OPPRESSION (France, 1941)
A Hero in France - Alan Furst

A HERO IN FRANCE” is a story set during the early months of the German Occupation of France during the Second World War.     It is centered around a Frenchman with the nom de guerre “Mathieu” who has cast off the trappings of his previous life in Paris to join the ranks of the Resistance.   Mathieu is in his early 40s, fairly fit, resourceful, tough, determined, yet not without charm and a knack for making friends in the most interesting places.     Unlike most French people, who at this stage of the war (the novel begins in a wintry, melancholic Paris in March 1941) were largely resigned to the defeat France had suffered at the hands of the Third Reich in June 1940, Mathieu is determined to fight the Germans any way he can.   To this end, he has been part of a network that has formed a pipeline between the Occupied Zone and Vichy France, spiriting downed RAF (Royal Air Force) flyers out of France into Spain, where they would be repatriated back to the UK.  

 

Resistance activities had started off on a very small scale from late 1940.   But as the months wore on, the Germans began to show their impatience and frustration from their efforts to discourage random acts of vandalism, the occasional murder of a German officer, and sabotage.   Thus, a police inspector from Hamburg was enlisted by Berlin to go to Paris (as a temporary major in the Feldgendarmerie, the German Army Military Police) and see what he could do to break up the Resistance pipeline of which Mathieu is an instrumental part.  

 

What I like about an Alan Furst novel is his knack for evoking the atmosphere of German-occupied Europe and creating a set of characters who struggle to survive, endure, and fight the Nazi yoke.   Anyone who wants to lose him/herself in a taut, well-told story rich with cinematic overtones, look no further.   “A HERO IN FRANCE” is the novel for you.

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review 2017-06-16 14:45
A little dry but worth reading
Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History - Joseph A. Williams

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

 

                Joseph A Williams’ book isn’t so much a chronicle of a sinking, but a history of a salvage mission.  The best parts of the book are the ones that describe the development of diving technology.  It also illuminates a lesser known story about WWI.  The writing is a bit dry when moving beyond driving, but the use of background material does keep the reader interested.

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review 2017-06-14 09:35
The Midnight Swimmer - Edward Wilson

Edward Wilson has again crafted an engaging, well-paced, and thrilling novel that brings back William Catesby, a sentimental yet coldly efficient agent in Britain's MI-6. Shuttling from West Germany to London, to Havana, and onward to Washington between October 1960 and the final week of October 1962 (when the world was on the brink of nuclear war), Catesby is given a thankless, yet vital task. That is, to make clandestine contacts and "offer Moscow a secret deal to break the deadlock" between it and Washington. One of the observations he makes during his service in Havana is the following: "The most interesting aspect of international relations wasn’t the conflict between enemies, but the conflicts between allies. You only had to go to an embassy cocktail party to see those conflicts in the flesh. It was easier for Western diplos to talk to the Russians than to talk to each other."

 

Cross, double-cross, love, the clear and present threat of war balanced against the preciousness of peace . Taken together, all these elements faithfully evoke the spirit of the early 1960s. Wilson has this uncanny skill for blending in fiction with history that will have the reader wondering how much more there may have been to the Cold War beyond what is the common narrative surrounding it today. Read "THE MIDNIGHT SWIMMER" and be amazed.

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