From Publishers Weekly
Traveling in the former Soviet Union as a private contractor buying declassified technology that made its way from the military into Russia's newly freed consumer markets Pope trips into the nightmarish world of post-Cold War Russia. Written with Tom Shactman (The FBI-KGB War; Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold), this volume moves as quickly as its name suggests, at least initially: Pope, a former U.S. naval attach and intelligence officer, gets thrown in prison within the first few pages. Accused of spying for the United States, he suffers indignities (strip searches, "mind games") and intimidation (he's told he belongs with terrorists and "serious criminals") from the new state security guards. The indictment stems from his interest in the country's "sensitive" Shkval torpedo, but what worries Pope the most once he's officially charged with espionage is his memory of "126 special clearances on matters of high importance to the security of the United States." After all, he writes, the interrogations are intense and "you don't just scrub [what you know] from your memory." Pope's fight for freedom is hampered by the questionable justice of the Russian legal system and a frustrating lack of support from the U.S. Embassy, and the book appropriately though unfortunately begins to drag once his days in jail stretch into months. Readers may find Pope's portraits of the new Russians too tiredly reminiscent of the old guard, and the degrading nicknames he uses to designate his interrogators (Little Feliks, Blubber-Butt, etc.) undermine the seriousness of his situation. But overall, this is a page-turner, a great spy story that nearly encourages nostalgia for Cold War spy politics. (Nov.)Forecast: Pope's refusal to grant any interviews since his December 2000 release will likely create intrigue, and his striking story will probably appeal to conspiracy theorists, Cold War history buffs, and James Bond fans alike.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A former naval intelligence officer turned businessman, Pope spent 253 days in a Moscow prison cell accused of trying to steal secrets from the Russians about their submarine technology. He was released only after being convicted and sentenced to 20 years, whereupon the new Russian president, Vladimir Putin, commuted his sentence and sent him home in December 2000. Here is Pope's detailed account of his months of interrogation and harassment while his health steadily declined. He proclaims his innocence, yet readers may wonder why the State Department was so slow to come to his aid. Only through pressure from his wife and from his local Pennsylvania congressman was the U.S. government inclined to try to save Pope from decades in prison. This is a harrowing tale set within the context of great-power politics at the onset of the new century. Pope is understandably bitter about what happened to him, but one suspects that there is more to his story than he is telling. Nevertheless, this book will send chills down one's spine. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.