Month: November 2009
I read about this book in Newsweek last night. I think it looks fascinating, and I would like to read it soon!
Spies: The Rise And Fall of the KGB in America
The book is about Soviet spies in the United States around the 1930s. Men that worked at high levels of the United States Government, such as the State Department, were converted ideologically to the principles of communism and voluntarily started spying for the Soviets. It went on for about a decade before the United States government even realized what was happening! We were so far behind in the spying game.
Product Review in Amazon: This stunning book, based on KGB archives that have never come to light before, provides the most complete account of Soviet espionage in America ever written. In 1993, former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev was permitted unique access to Stalin-era records of Soviet intelligence operations against the United States. Years later, living in Britain, Vassiliev retrieved his extensive notebooks of transcribed documents from Moscow. With these notebooks John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have meticulously constructed a new, sometimes shocking, historical account.
Along with general insights into espionage tactics and the motives of Americans who spied for Stalin, Spies resolves specific, long-seething controversies. The book confirms, among many other things, that Alger Hiss cooperated with Soviet intelligence over a long period of years, that journalist I. F. Stone worked on behalf of the KGB in the 1930s, and that Robert Oppenheimer was never recruited by Soviet intelligence. Spies also uncovers numerous American spies who were never even under suspicion and satisfyingly identifies the last unaccounted for American nuclear spies. Vassiliev tells the story of the notebooks and his own extraordinary life in a gripping introduction to the volume.
It took a LONG time for me to fall in love with the Jones family. In the beginning of the book you meet the father on his last day. Ignoring the warning from his common law wife, Viney, and his own common sense, he goes golfing during a thunderstorm. And, you can guess what happened when he lifted his club to the sky.
After his death you meet his three children who each face daunting problems in their own lives. None of them are in committed relationships, the oldest two have addiction problems (one with food and the other with bodybuilding), and they all wonder (especially the youngest) what happened to their mother in 1978 when she went up in a tornado and never came back down.
At the beginning of the book, I was frustrated with the children. I wanted them to fix their lives and just be better! It was hard to trudge through the beginning as the children came home to say goodbye to their father.
But, eventually, you get to hear Hope’s voice. Hope is the mother who went up and through her journal entries you meet her, experience pieces of her life, and just love her. She goes a little crazy after her first miscarriage, but you quickly forgive her.
The other characters I could have done without, but I am so glad that I got to know Hope. And yes, at the end of the book it is FINALLY revealed what happened to her during the tornado of 1978. It’s a quick entry so no skimming if you want to find out!
Here’s some more information from Amazon: Hope Jones, Nebraska mother of three, is whisked away by a 1978 tornado, her body never found. The novel opens 25 years later, when Hope’s children—grown but not grown up—gather for their father’s funeral after he’s killed by a lightning strike. Llewelyn’s death is one of many quandaries haunting his children: daughter Larken, an overweight professor beset by fear of flying; son Gaelan, a television weatherman with too many women in his life; and the youngest, Bonnie, who stays in Emlyn Springs working odd jobs. Alvina Viney Closs, Hope’s best friend, also has issues to resolve. Themes of family bonds and conflicts, secrets and sorrows also marked Kallos’s debut, and this time she weaves in an idiosyncratic view of the role of the dead in the lives of the living, sharp takes on business, academic and sexual politics, and a palpable empathy for small Midwestern towns.