Fascinating dirty linen from the early decades of the CIA.



The gripping and deeply unedifying account of “the best defector the US ever had.”

Documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist Tate, who has written many books on both spycraft and true crime, has turned up a riveting spy story focused on Michal Goleniewski, a senior official in Poland’s intelligence service who also answered to the KGB. In a 1958 letter to the American Embassy in Switzerland, he offered “enticing leads to Soviet Bloc spies, which…would excite American counterintelligence interest.” The CIA responded, and there followed a bonanza in which Sniper (his code name) smuggled microfilm and thousands of top-secret Soviet documents to the West before defecting with his mistress in 1961. His debriefing produced more priceless information, but matters eventually went sour. The problem was not Goleniewski but rather the faction-ridden CIA. The agency’s Soviet and East European sections accepted Sniper’s bona fides, but the counterintelligence branch, led by James Jesus Angleton, did not. Famously paranoid, Angleton believed that the CIA was riddled with KGB agents that included nearly every defector. For three years, the CIA showered money and benefits on Goleniewski and used his revelations to arrest numerous traitors and their handlers around the world. Much of what followed remains classified, but Tate theorizes that Angleton’s faction assumed dominance within the agency, because in January 1964, it abruptly eliminated Goleniewski’s salary and protection and suspended him, subject to an “internal review” that never happened. Cast out, Goleniewski floundered for a time before developing severe psychosis, declaring himself the son of the czar of Russia who had been executed along with his family in 1918. In the final 100 pages, Tate chronicles 30 years of bizarre behavior until Goleniewski’s 1993 death, alternating with wildly dysfunctional CIA behavior, an ongoing theme throughout the book.

Fascinating dirty linen from the early decades of the CIA.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-27466-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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