From the author of the Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominated Argo, a true-life thriller set against the backdrop of the Cold War, which unveils the life of an American spy from the inside and dramatically reveals how the CIA reestablished the upper hand over the KGB in the intelligence war.
From the author of the Golden Globe winner and Academy Award winner Argo...
Moscow, 1988. The twilight of the Cold War. The KGB is at its most ruthless, and has now indisputably gained the upper hand over the CIA in the intelligence war. But no one knows how. Ten CIA agents and double-agents have gone missing in the last three years. They have either been executed or they are unaccounted for.
At Langley, several theories circulate as to how the KGB seems suddenly to have become telepathic, predicting the CIA's every move. Some blame the defection of Edward Lee Howard three years before, and suspect that there are more high-placed moles to be unearthed. Others speculate that the KGB's surveillance successes have been heightened by the invention of an invisible electromagnetic powder that allows them to keep tabs on anyone who touches it: spy dust.
CIA officers Tony Mendez and Jonna Goeser come together to head up a team of technical wizards and operational specialists, determined to solve the mystery that threatens to overshadow the Cold War's final act. Working against known and unknown hostile forces, as well as some unfriendly elements within the CIA, they devise controversial new operational methods and techniques to foil the KGB, and show the extraordinary lengths that US intelligence is willing to go to protect a source, then rescue him when his world starts to collapse. At the same time, Tony and Jonna find themselves falling deeply in love.
During a fascinating odyssey that began in Indochina fifteen years before and ends in a breathtakingly daring operation in the heart of the Kremlin's Palace of Congresses, Spy Dust catapults the reader from the Hindu Kush to Hollywood, from Havana to Moscow, but cannot truly conclude until its protagonists are safely wedded in rural Maryland.read more
Covers much of the same era as Milt Bearden's "The Main Enemy" from a technological and disguise standpoint. Thus, this takes a deeper and more specific look at the Year of the Spy and some of the challenges of the close of the Cold War espionage in Moscow. Overall, it is well written and interesting. My only complaints is the way the personal lives of the authors permeate so much of the story. At times, it detracted from the overall picture being painted. It's a good, quick read that accomplishes its purposes of preserving this specific component of Cold War history.read more
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Antonio Mendez is a former CIA technical operations officer who has recently become rather well known, thanks in large part to the blockbuster Argo, starring Ben Affleck, that has recently hit theaters. The movie is based upon a memoir written by Mendez himself, published in 2012. The lesser known Spy Dust, a memoir written and published almost a decade earlier, describes some of Mendez’s exploits during the mid to late 1980s, during the latter years of the Cold War.I first became interested in Mendez’s writing when I stumbled across his first book, The Master of Disguise. I don’t remember how, exactly, I came to do so, but as I recall I had recently been reading a memoir by Robert Baer, and suspect that it somehow led me to Mendez’s story.At any rate, The Master of Disguise in due time led me to Spy Dust, and I have to say that I very much enjoyed this book. Mendez’s prose is a little unpolished, but really quite good, and he’s a natural-born storyteller. Mendez’s wife, Jonna, also a veteran of the CIA, co-wrote the book; during the period covered in the story, they grew from colleagues and coworkers to friends, and, eventually, much more. She, too, turned out to be quite a raconteur. The story is told from the perspective of both, each chapter taking it in turns to tell a portion of the story from his point of view, and then from hers.Of course, I may be giving them more praise than they deserve; Bruce Henderson is also listed as co-author, and is, by all accounts, quite a talented writer. While Henderson’s skill unquestionably enhanced the book in drawing the two perspectives together, however, I would hesitate to give him the lion’s share of the credit. I’ve sampled some of Henderson’s other books, and while I very much liked Fatal North, Down to the Sea failed to hold my interest; he’s good, but the narrative is what makes this book great. Regardless of who deserves the glory, the end result is a vastly entertaining, truly engrossing story that reads like a thriller. John le Carre could scarcely have come up with a better plot. Shades of The Russia House, come to life, the book recounts efforts by the CIA to develop and protect assets in their battle against agents of communist Russia during the height of the Cold War. The most gripping account in the book describes the details of an intricate operation designed to assist a Soviet defector and his family in seeking asylum in the United States. I don’t want to tell you how it ends but, suffice it to say, in the best tradition of the ‘80s, the good guys win.I was in Europe for much of the period Mendez covers in this book, and even now can easily call to mind memories of the hovering uncertainty and tension that colored every moment. Oddly enough, my family and I had also escaped Tehran shortly before the events depicted in Mendez’s more well-known book, Argo. I’ve not yet read Argo, but I certainly intend to very soon; Spy Dust was most certainly well worth the time invested, and I am looking forward to another adventure with Mendez, et al; a bona fide George Smiley and crew.read more
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Retired CIA disguise expert Antonio Mendez (The Master of Disguise) teams up with his wife, also a former agent, to reveal how they fell in love during a highly critical mission in the waning years of the Cold War. Antonio and Jonna shift back and forth in their account as separate assignments eventually converge in the extrication from Moscow of a high-ranking KGB mole, jeopardized by the traitorous dealings of men like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. Fans of Alan Furst's WWII espionage novels will appreciate the subdued nature of this thriller, where the stakes are always high but the individual actions are usually low-key, as well as the details the Mendezes provide on the art of eluding surveillance. The title is a red herring although "spy dust" was a real element of the KGB's operations against foreigners in Moscow, its role in this story is of a background nature. The climax hinges on a much more old-fashioned game of cat and mouse. There are a few weak spots in the narrative, where the authors (or their collaborator, true-crime scribe Henderson) try to recreate scenes at which they weren't present, but for the most part this is an entertaining thriller with the added virtue of being true. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Christy Fletcher, Carlisle & Co. (Sept. 17) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved