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
From Library Journal
Author of the best-selling "Blackford Oakes" series, Buckley here takes on the core of spying--recruiting, training, and deceit. Many former spies make cameo appearances in this profile of James Jesus Angleton, a real spymaster who ran the counterintelligence operations of the CIA for decades after World War II. The introduction of young agents gives Buckley a lot of room for sexy interludes, professorial expositions, and energetic episodes. Throughout the book, the intellectual appeal of espionage separates this from the usual cloak-and-dagger story. Sure to be a favorite, this novel successfully explores the enigmatic life of a Cold Warrior. For all popular fiction collections.---Barbara Conaty, Library of Congress
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