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review 2017-08-11 00:39
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities - Daniel Golden

I received this book via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

 

The openness of American colleges and universities for thought and research is seen by academics as the keystone to higher education.  However Daniel Golden writes in Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities this is seen as opportunities to recruit agents and cultivate operatives as well steal technological innovations both by our own intelligence agencies and those across the globe.

 

Golden divided his book into foreign and domestic intelligence agencies exploitation of American universities.  The first focused how foreign agencies, mainly the Chinese, have been exploiting American universities need of prestige and tuition money to gain partnerships between Chinese universities and their American counterparts resulting in an exchange of students and professors.  Yet the most important focus of Golden’s investigation was on how the openness and collaboration within American university labs opens up opportunities for individuals to funnel research, including those paid by the U.S. government and American companies, to their home country to be exploit by their own government or to patient and start up a business.  The second half was on the complicated relationship between American intelligence agencies and universities, some of who encourage a relationship and those that do not.  The aspect of conflict between secrecy and openness is seen throughout the latter half of the book with 9/11 playing a pivotal role in each side’s views.  Unlike the first half of the book, this section is seen over the course of 60 years compared to more near 2000 but in a way to show that past is prologue.

 

As an investigative journalist, Golden uses extensive research and a multitude of interviews in giving a full history and the scale of a front in the global spy game that many in the United States haven’t been aware of.   Unfortunately for Golden the timing of this book while on the one hand current and on the other potentially dated.  Nearly all his interviews take place no later than 2015, but since the election of Donald Trump with a seemingly nativist groundswell behind him and student demonstrations against conservative speakers might have begun a fundamental shift that could drastically change how both American and foreign intelligence services are seen on American universities especially as a post-9/11 “tolerance” on campus changes to hostility.

 

Even though the subject Daniel Golden has written about could be in the midst of a sudden sea change, Spy Schools is still a book to read in at least to understand an important part of the global spy game.  Although no up-to-date, the recent and long-term history is significant for anyone who is concerned about national security and foreign intervention in American affairs.

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url 2017-08-04 18:54
Journey into the Past ...
The Marriage of Opposites - Alice Hoffman
A Voice in the Wind - Francine Rivers
An Officer and a Spy: A novel - Robert Harris
Longbourn - Jo Baker
Blackout (All Clear #1) - Connie Willis
The Art Forger - B.A. Shapiro,Barbara A. Shapiro
The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka
Dreaming Spies: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes - Laurie R. King

Just a reading list of historical fiction ebooks from my public library (uses overdrive).  More than books pictured.

Source: kyunbound.overdrive.com/boone-oldham/content/collection/100876
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review 2017-07-31 04:04
One Dead Spy
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy - Nathan Hale

 

 

In One Dead Spy, historical figure Nathan Hale, America’s first spy, tells the story of his life and the American Revolution. The novel brings readers that feeling of “being there” and relates real-life historical events with humor. The illustrations are sepia toned with some red thrown in, as in the uniforms of the British army. 

 

This book is well written, with lots of facts, and humor too. Kids will enjoy learning about history and laughing at the same time. :)

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text 2017-07-26 00:05
Exciting August Releases!
The Address: A Novel - Fiona Davis
Stay with Me: A novel - Ayobami Adebayo
Surrender to Me (The Lawsons of Louisiana) - Donna Hill
The Paris Spy - Susan Elia MacNeal
All Is Beauty Now - Sarah Faber
To Wager Her Heart (A Belle Meade Plantation Novel) - Tamera Alexander
Seeking Sarah: A Novel - ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Pretty, Nasty, Lovely - Rosalind Noonan
Breakfast in Bed (The Innkeepers) - Rochelle Alers
The Other Girl - Erica Spindler

There are many more August releases than the ones I've chosen to read. In choosing books that interest me, I'm trying to discern if the writing and plot are enough. I've listened to about 2-5% in each of these books and know, thus far, we will do well. 

 

I realize that it's best for me to get in with more than one book so, that I'm already interested to move on to the next. Reading one book at a time and then picking up another that doesn't hold my attention leaves me blank for days. I lose steam and dawdle. Already I have finished 6 books in July, with this method, and am so pleased. I could've read more if I would've adopted this way much sooner.

 

Here's the release dates for these books and others that aren't shown that I may read;

 

August 1

 

Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah

The Address by Fiona Davis

Locked in Temptation by Brenda Jackson

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Surrender to Me by Donna Hill

 

 

 

August 8

 

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

All is Beauty Now by Sarah Faber

To Wager Her Heart Tamera Alexander

A Promise of Ruin by Cuyler Overholt

 

 

August 15

 

Seeking Sarah by Roshanda Tate Billingsley

The Party by Elizabeth Day

The Wardrobe Mistress by Meghan Masterson

 

 

August 22

 

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler

 

 

August 29

 

Pretty, Nasty, Lovely by Rosalind Noonan

Breakfast in Bed by Rochelle Alers

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-07-19 23:01
Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans.
Zero Day - David Baldacci

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher, MacMillan, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

David Baldacci is one of these authors whose names a reader (and even a non-reader) cannot escape. His books are widely distributed and he always seems to have a volume or two in the bestsellers list (no, not the Amazon one on a little-known genre, but the real thing). Despite all that (or perhaps because of it, as sometimes some names seem so familiar that I feel as if I had already read/watched or whatever it is they do, them before) I had never read any of his books. I saw that coinciding with a book launch, NetGalley was offering a copy of the first book in the John Puller series, and I decided perhaps it was time I read him. (I don’t have any specific opinions on best sellers as such and I don’t necessarily avoid them as a matter of principle but I do prefer to discover them early on, so I can make my own mind up).

The story, narrated in the third person, mostly follows John Puller, a military investigator that is all you probably would wish for in such a character. He has complex family relations (including a genius brother imprisoned for life for treason), he has seen his share of combat and has the medals and the scars to prove them, he is as skilled at fighting as he is at investigating, and although usually he works as part of a team, he can be a one-man-band when required (as is the case here).  There are some moments (like the first chapter) when we follow other characters, but this is for a very good reason, and we, by and far, experience the events from Puller’s perspective. Of course, that does not mean we know everything he knows, because the book hides information at times and that means there are some surprises (the number of surprises might depend on how close your attention and on how many books of the genre you have read).  The story is a combination of a spy story with highly skilled military investigator/hero in charge, and a more standard police procedural, with big secrets, conspiracies, and environmental issues thrown in for good measure. There are hints of a possible romance, but nobody is up to the task, and the time frame is very tight for such developments.

The investigation is very detailed, and we get to know quite a few of the characters in the small West Virginian town of Drake, a coal mining place that has become almost a ghost town due to the environmental and economic consequences of the exploitation and depletion of its resources by the sole industry in the area. Baldacci shares as much loving detail on the way the coal industry works (or at least some far-from-exemplary companies), as he does on everything else: the way the military works, the different roles of the investigating and security agencies and how they interact, the equipment used, the weaponry… This might be too much for some readers, but I am sure it will make others very happy. I did enjoy more the discussions of the environmental issues and the socio-economic effects of the coal-extracting industry than the details about the equipment, but there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers of mystery, and also spy novels, entertained.

My favourite character is Sam Cole, the female police officer in charge of the investigation. She has problems of her own and also a difficult relationship with her family, and seems the perfect match for Puller. I would probably have preferred the novel to be about her, but that is not the genre or the focus of it. In many ways, her character is the one that makes us see Puller as something more than a perfect fighting and investigating machine, all professional, and efficient. Yes, he has a cat, some sort of relationships with his father, and an interesting dynamic with his brother, but she is the only person who is not a relative he seems to relate to at a level beyond the casual, and it is not only because it is helpful to his mission.  

I agree with comments that the novel is formulaic in many ways (Puller survives several attempts on his life, has to subvert orders and get inventive to save the day and manages to pull an incredible feat at the end), although as I haven’t read other Baldacci’s books, I cannot comment on how much better or worse Puller is compared to some of his other heroes (Reacher is mentioned often in the reviews, sometimes agreeing he’s as good, others denying it). I imagine once you have such a following as an author, you know what your public wants and expects, so it is perhaps disingenuous to accuse him of writing to a formula. It is not a genre I read often, and I prefer something more distinctive, less heroic, and with a bit of humour.

The book is well paced, the writing supports the story rather than calling attention to itself (as I said, some readers might find there is too much detail, but I doubt his fans will, and after reading the acknowledgements, it is clear that he is well-informed and has had access to first-hand information not many would have), and if you like lone heroes with a conscience, John Puller makes a pretty decent one. Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans. I am not sure I’d say I’ve become one of them, but I might try another one of his stories at some point.

 

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