Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton

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9780151005130: Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton

James Jesus Angleton was the master-a legend in the time of spies. Founder of U.S. counterintelligence at the end of the second World War, and ruthless hunter of moles and enemies of America, his name is synonymous with skullduggery and intellectual subterfuge. Now bestselling author William F. Buckley Jr. presents a subtle and thrilling fictional account of the spymaster's life. From his early involvement in the World War II underground to the waning days of the Cold War in Washington, D.C., Angleton pursued his enemies, real and imagined, with a cool, calculating intelligence, and an unwillingness to take anything at face value. Convinced that there was a turncoat within the CIA itself, he confused his enemy through misleading acts and deceptive feints to distort his real objective-to capture and expose a traitor. The result was near-victory for American Intelligence-and defeat for himself. A brilliant re-creation of his world, which included the CIA, Soviet defectors, the infamous traitors Burgess, MacLean, and Philby, and American presidents from Truman to Carter, Spytime traces the making-and tragic unmaking-of a man without peer, and at the end, a man without a country to serve.

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Review:

This fictional account of the life of James Jesus Angleton, founder of the American counterintelligence establishment, will make readers wish for the humor and high jinks of Blackie Oakes, William F. Buckley Jr.'s much more engaging fictional spy. As the novel opens, Angleton is being summarily locked out of the halls of power and plotting his final act: the unmasking of the famed Fifth Man involved in the scandals that rocked England when Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Anthony Blount were unmasked as traitors. But before he lets the reader in on the identity of the Fifth Man, Buckley traces Angleton's career through his involvement in a number of espionage cases, all rooted in the cold war and apparently chosen to illustrate Buckley's ongoing (and already decided) battle with his favorite nemesis, Soviet communism.

Angleton's lifelong obsession with Philby is the engine that drives Spytime, but there are too many miles on it to make what passes for a plot hold the reader's interest. On the brighter side, Buckley's erudition puts a fine polish on the chassis. Cold Warrior, Tom Mangold's fine biography of Angleton, is a more evenhanded treatment of the life of this complicated man, but Buckley's is more fun to take to the beach. --Jane Adams

Book Description:

James Jesus Angleton was an enigma, a secretive man whose power was at its peak during the height of the Cold War. Founder of U.S. counter-intelligence, hunter of moles and foes of America, his name has become synonymous with skulduggery and subterfuge. Angleton pursued his enemies, real and imagined, with a cool, calculating intelligence. Eventually convinced that there was a turncoat within the highest reaches of the U.S. government, Angleton turned all of his considerable skills to finding and exposing him. The result was a near-victory for U.S. Intelligence-and total defeat for himself. A brilliant re-creation of a world that included Soviet defectors, the infamous traitors Burgess, MacLean, and Philby, and American presidents from Truman to Carter, Spytime traces the making-and unmaking-of a man without a peer and, at the end, a man without a country to serve.

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