- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005Q62MV8
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,626,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Ordinary Spy: A Novel Paperback
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Well worth a read.
But know what you're getting into -- this is not a James Bond type thriller. It's more of a case study in paranoia as experienced by actual CIA officers. For me, one of the greatest elements of the book was the high level of insight it offered into the nuts and bolts of CIA tradecraft -- how to evade surveillance, how to evaluate sources and the delicate dance involved in recruiting foreign nationals to betray their countries.
The novel is very well-written, with a dry, witty humor throughout. It's structured somewhat idiosyncratically in terms of where you expect the beginning, middle and end to be -- major plot points seem to occur at what would normally be considered the wrong time. For instance, imagine if Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future returned home in the middle of the movie instead of at the end. I was initially put off by this, but the writer ends up making the whole thing really work.
All in all, a very literate novel of the post-modern spy.
After the 13 episode season, knowing I had to wait 3/4 of a year, I eagerly purchased this book by Joe Weisberg to tide me over. What a disappointment! I couldn't get "into it". I would put it down after trying, and not pick it up for weeks or months, then try again. I don't normally do that. Finally I forced myself to read through, and at the end, judged it wasn't worth the reading time.
The story, while it is probably more realistic than most books or movies, is just not enough. If you are considering becoming a covert officer, then you may like this. It is written by someone who went through it, and it feels real. Ordinary spying is no doubt mostly boring and fruitless. But spies get paid to read boring stuff.
As others have noted, the redactions make for slow going. It's mechanical black Magic Marker on the pages. You can't relax and read normally. Combine that with a largely dull half-a-story, and it's a ripoff.