Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton

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9780156011242: Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton

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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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

About the Author:

William F. Buckley Jr. is the founder of the National Review and was the host of what was television's longest-running program, Firing Line. The author of thirteen other novels, many of them bestsellers, he lives in Connecticut.

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