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My Country Versus Me: The First-Hand Account by the Los Alamos Scientist Who Was Falsely Accused of Being a Spy Hardcover – January 15, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a story that would seem fantastic even if it were fictional, the Taiwan-born Lee relates his traumatic saga of being accused by the government of the high crime of espionage, detailing his life before, during and after the accusation. Lee, a "patriotic" American scientist who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, helped develop our national defense capabilities and also assisted the FBI to help protect U.S. nuclear secrets. He was shocked to find himself the subject of scrutiny. Nevertheless, based on nothing but hollow government allegations, apparent racism and the need for a scapegoat, Lee explains how Congress' and the national media's portrayal of him as a traitor more dangerous than the Rosenbergs resulted in ruining his life and reputation. Though not convicted, he spent nearly a year in 1999 shackled and chained in prison. Now that his case has been settled, he is free to tell his story, and Stella's reading of it is superb. He chose to avoid an obvious Chinese accent, opting instead to deliver the text using only the stiffness associated with someone whose first language is not English. This makes for a performance that is so convincing, it is shocking to hear his voice sans this effect when he reads Zia's acknowledgements at the book's end. Simultaneous release with the Hyperion hardcover.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The Taiwanese-born American scientist accused of spying tells his side of the story. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; First Edition edition (January 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786868031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786868032
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,353,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
... to remind them that when politics drives criminal investigations, the first thing sacrificed is the truth. This book has a plot worthy of a John Grisham novel, with a host of powerful villains, starting with politicians on both sides of the aisle. Republicans from Christopher Cox to the appallingly ill-informed Bob Smith (who couldn't even distinguish between Wen Ho Lee and Bill Lann Lee) chose Lee as a scapegoat in order to bring down the Democratic presidency; the Democratic administration complied with the persecution so it wouldn't look soft on Chinese espionage. Other villains included Robert Messemer, the FBI agent whose repeated lying in court should have had him thrown in jail for perjury, Notra Trulock, whose mysterious hand in the investigation was never clearly defined (and who was later revealed to be a rightwing shill), and Bill Richardson, whose political aspirations are, quite rightfully, dead as dirt thanks to his performance in this matter. One must also add the combined forces of the FBI, DOE, and DOJ, all of them so intent on proving that Lee was their man that they were blind to the truth: that Lee was never a spy, and that his worst infraction was the downloading of files that he was actively working on. The reason for those downloads are explained and strike one as completely logical to anyone who has lost precious computer files during a crash, something that had happened to Lee during a previous computer fiasco at Los Alamos. (One should also add that while the FBI was spending millions of dollars pursuing Lee, September 11 was being planned right under their noses.)
But as culpable as the politicians and FBI villains are in this piece, they were, in truth, simply doing what they always do: bending the truth to get their way.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J Lee Harshbarger on July 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have read two books in which the authors have been attacked by two ominous powers, so they have written the books to tell their account of the stories. One is "Black And White On Wall Street" by Joseph Jett, and the other is "My Country vs. Me" by Wen Ho Lee. In the first book, one of the powers is the Big Corporation; in the second, it's the Government. But in both books, the second power is the same: the news media. For both of these men, their reputations were ruined by a two-pronged attack, first by the people who wanted to bring them down, then aided by a news reporting machine that didn't bother to check the facts but merely reported rumor leaked by the Powerful Ones. And in both books, the final judgments from the authoritative sources (the SEC for Jett, the court for Lee), revealed that all the claims of criminal wrongdoing had no substance, and that indeed these were witch hunts. (Both got slapped with minimal charges, but in both cases, after all the major efforts of the Powerful Ones, this was all they could get, which shows how weak their charges really were.) Trouble is, by the time these results appear, the public already has it in their minds that the people are evil.
And in both cases, it becomes clear after awhile that the motive for choosing these individuals was their race.
I subscribed to Brill's Content magazine, a journalist watchdog publication, in its beginning days, and I learned from that how the news media take rumors and leaked information, then report it without verifying it; then other news outlets pick up the story, and soon all the news media are reporting the same thing...and not a one has substantiated the story themselves. So everybody thinks it's true because it's all over the news.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book Wen Ho Lee comes off as what I think he is, an uncomplicated, straightforward scientist and family man who got embroiled in a highly complex and ugly political game. His voice comes through clearly even with a co-author, although it alternates between simple grammar and highly polished constructions. Still, even in the polished parts, the thinking seems to be authentically Lee's own. This is a credit to Helen Zia, his co-author, who put the book into the first person in his voice based on the account he gave her.
The book is loaded with details about the case, from the investigations leading up to it, to his own account of his actions, to the legal battles, and the conclusion with the apology from judge Parker. There's a lot packed in here but it is extremely readable.
Lee's account of why he copied the data onto tapes is technically detailed and convincing.
Some of the other facts in here are astonishing, like the fact that the data was assigned a "classified" rating only after the government found evidence of copying. That is just one small point in this amazing story.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Wen Ho Lee's book and I couldn't help feeling that I had just read a story about my father, or any worker who gets caught up in the net others with political egos and hypocrisy run rampant. He describes in the book his very practical steps and yes, little lies and actions that aren't quite by the book but that we all do to survive at work. Nothing he did warrents the action taken, only that he was ethnically Chinese. You see in his book how he grows from basically a person trying to do a good job and live a simple life, to one who understands the real motivations of people in politics and how necessary it is to participate in the American system. I think the words "Ever vigilent" are made all so real thru his story. I recommend this book for a first hand account of history, instead of the slanted and spinned accounts in newsmagazines like Newsweek or the other book out now written by some reporters.
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