Defection of A. J. Lewinter and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Defection of A. J. Lewinter: A Novel of Duplicity Hardcover – October 14, 2002


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$4.31 $0.01

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Hardcover; Reissue edition (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585673471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585673476
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The reissue of this 1973 Cold War gem comes on the heels of Littell's recent hardcover thriller The Company. Set in the early 1970s, the spy thriller-cum-black comedy begins when A.J. Lewinter, an eccentric American engineer specializing in nose cones for ballistic missiles, decides to defect to the Soviet Union. Such a high-level defection is unprecedented, and each side suspects the other of something fishy. A hilarious contest ensues as they try to outconnive each other. On the American side is a coldly libidinous intelligence agent named Diamond (when a mistress asks him what he would have done if she hadn't passed a security background check, he says, "I would have taken you to bed-but I wouldn't have talked to you"). His KGB analogue is the nervous Pogodin (self-described as "one-quarter Marxist, one-quarter humanist, and one-half bureaucrat"), who knows too well the consequences of any mistake. The book paints a bleak view of both sides of the Cold War divide: the socialist dream has given way to a police state plagued by chronic food shortages and ruled by an elite oligarchy that gets the few decent cars and apartments in Moscow, while on democracy's home front, race riots and antiwar protests multiply. Concise, smart and funny, this novel turns Cold War spy cliches on their head. Though the ambiguous ending no longer terrifies, this book still packs a punch and seems prescient to boot. Those who only know Littell's more recent works should enjoy this fast, fun trip into the past.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A brilliantly clever story, emphasizing the nuances of absurdity, menace, and violence inherent in security operations...lively, energetic, easy to read." -- Julian Symonds, The Independent

"Littell deserves his comparisons with Deighton and LeCarré." -- The Times, London

"Robert Littell writes smart, sharp thrillers. The Once and Future Spy may be his smartest and sharpest to date...What raises this book above Littell's excellent average is its range of marvelous characters...Plots as feline and style as dashing as Littell's are rare in the spy genre." -- The Observer, London

"The Once and Future Spy is, if anything, even better than Robert Littell's previous thrillers. It is intriguing, funny, quirky, challenging, and above all, diverting. Get it and read it." -- Robert Elegant

More About the Author

Bestselling author Robert Littell has been ranked amongst John Le Carre and Graham Greene for his masterful spy fiction. A Newsweek journalist in a previous incarnation, Littell has been writing about the Soviet Union and Russians since his first novel, the espionage classic The Defection of A.J.Lewinter. Among his numerous critically acclaimed novels are The October Circle, Mother Russia, The Debriefing, The Sisters, The Revolutionist, The Once and Future Spy, An Agent in Place, The Visiting Professor, the New York Times bestselling The Company (adapted for a TNT mini-series), and Legends (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Best Thriller of 2005) and For the Future of Israel, a book of conversations with Shimon Peres. Littell is an American who makes his home in France.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "fifthvenom" on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed The Company; I decided to give this one a shot. Littell does not disappoint as he weaves layer upon layer of intrigue in this brief tale of espionage. The story involves the defection of a scientist and what we learn about him through the eyes of oppossing agencies. Yet through the deft touch of Littell we are never quite sure what to think of the man. Is he serving the interests of the United States, the Soviet Union, or himself? Are there any hints that let on? That is the charm of this novel. The tone of the novel fits right alongside that of The Company. Especially appreciated is the fact that Littell leaves the road open for the reader to navigate the end course. He doesn't spoon feed conclusions to his readers. You'll see what I mean when you read the fantastic ending.
The only problem? This was the only other book of his that I could find at my local store.
why not five stars? I wished that it was a longer read...
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Paperback
It's hard to believe that "The Defection of A.J. Lewinter" is a first novel. Sure, it's brief (barely 300 pages, using a large typeface), but it's so self-assured, so brilliant, so audacious, that it smacks of a later work written by a giant who's merely taking some time off from writing epics.

The title is seemingly dead-on. American scientist A.J. Lewinter defects to the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. (While the time period is never specifically stated, it's definitely post-Kennedy and pre-Gorbachev.) The defection is surprisingly easy, and Lewinter has an easier time ditching his American security than he does convincing the Soviets to let him defect.

And that's the crux of Littell's lean novel of espionage and paranoia. The Americans are understandably paranoid -- they've got a defector, which is embarrassing enough, but this guy may know some military secrets of considerable value. But the Soviets are equally paranoid, if not more so. What if this Lewinter is a CIA plant, and this is a phony defection? If the Soviets misread Lewinter, it could mean a disastrous hit to the Soviet system of 5-year plans, not to mention a few bullets put into the backs of a few heads.

Littell keeps the pressure on, as the Americans and the Soviets plot and scheme to figure out just what the heck has happened by this defection as well as how to play it. For the Soviets, will the Americans use reverse-psychology and act like the defection is no big deal (thereby hopefully leading the Soviets to conclude that Lewinter is a fraud)? Or are the Americans playing reverse-reverse psychology, hoping that by doing nothing the Soviets will interpret this as the Americans trying to convince the Soviets that Lewinter is a fraud, when really Lewinter is the real thing?
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Edger on July 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Littell's book reads as well today as it did when published. This is an excellent introduction to the cold war science of defector exploitation told from both the US and Soviet view. This short book is a good, fast read from an author who frequently "does" intelligence right. After a career in the business myself, he is one of only a few authors who I can always read.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 25, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A.J. Lewinter, a physicist specializing in ceramics who does military research on missile nosecones, defects to the Soviet Union (the novel was published in 1973, when the Soviet Union still existed). His knowledge of ceramics isn't likely to be helpful to the Russians, but Lewinter may have obtained accurate knowledge of missile trajectories--information that could enable the Soviet Union to develop an effective anti-missile defense. The American government isn't quite sure whether Lewinter was able to memorize the trajectory formulas during his brief time with them, while the Soviets aren't quite sure whether Lewinter is a genuine defector with useful information, a genuine defector who has been given false information to fool the Soviets, or an American agent.

Littell's novel takes a fun look at the games played by espionage services. The Americans want the Russians to believe Lewinter's information is useless. The Russians, in turn, need to figure out whether they're being played by the Americans. The novel takes us through the reasoning processes employed by both sides. The characters, on both the American and Russian side, are interesting albeit one-dimensional. This is more of a cerebral novel than an action-packed thriller, but the twists and turns taken by the Americans and Russians as each side tries to out-think and to out-deceive the other make the novel a gripping read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Blankenhorn on June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a readable, interesting, intelligent book on spying and spycraft. The other reviews describe the book well.

My only issue with it is that it is brief, more like a novella or a long short story than a novel. It lacks density and texture. It's best to read on a coast-to-coast flight. It makes sense that the author has movie and television experience.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By U2pop on April 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"The Defection of A. J. Lewinter" is a great book and a page-turner at that. A guy you wouldn't give a second thought to decides to defect while on a trip to Tokyo. As the Americans you have to decide if the defector has anything worth defecting for! At the same time the Russians have to do their best to figure out if he's genuine or a plant!

If you've ever seen a cat chasing its tail then you'll get a kick out of this book. Everyone is chasing shadows and the one caught in the middle is A.J. Lewinter. The ending is a great little plot twist and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?