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Circle of Treason: CIA Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed Audible – Unabridged

4.1 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
The "mole" is an insidious exotic creature, a betrayer of trust and indirect slayer of his victims. The treason of Aldrich "Rick" Ames, the selfless investigators who tracked him down, and the ups and downs of how they did it are well and ably described in this long awaited book. The authors, Jeanne Vertefeuille and Sandra Grimes were at the center of the CIA's counterintelligence effort from beginning to end and personally suffered the vicissitudes of the multi-year task but never flagged in their efforts. Both are veterans of the Cold War CIA and bona fide experts on the KGB. Several books, some good, some bad, have been published on the Ames case, but until now none has provided the inside information and accurate rendering of the story.

Vertefeuille and Grimes quite rightly, and for the first time, give pride of place in the story to the individual agents who died, penetrations of the KGB, GRU, and other Soviet entities. The story of GRU General Dmitriy Fedorovich Polyakov, who worked for the CIA for 20 years until he was betrayed by Ames, is especially touching. The respect CIA officers hold for such agents is brilliantly explained in this one-of-a-kind tour de force. The very real dismay upon learning of the brutal deaths of the people betrayed by Ames is palpable.

Operational details, the personalities involved on both sides, and the bureaucratic struggles of the authors are quite frankly breathtaking. No espionage novel, not even fine ones, such as Le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," come even close to the complexities involved in this real-life drama. This book is a must read for anyone interested in espionage, the KGB, the Cold War, or counterintelligence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the most revealing, authentic and long-waited books yet published about Ames case written by two CIA veterans with direct knowledge of many dramatic episodes of the Cold War.
The authors - Vertefeuille&Grimes - two tenacious and experienced CIA officers made a superb team (supported by many other colleagues) and wrote, with authority and convinction, a book with many priceless stories.
What makes this book so compelling is that almost every word is true, but, by no means, a complete picture of many Cold War episodes, as you can see below.

The book starts in the first two chapters with a personal description of authors' careers, a fine team as I said, after a short, but explanatory, preface.
In chapter three we were provided with an insightful look and general overview of SE (Soviet and East European) division operations.
Starting with chapter 4 and continuing with the next two, we're providing with the best account about Polyakov case, the GRU general receiving a special attention from the authors and a special dedication at the beginning of the book.

The facts are as detailed as possible, but omitted one important factor - the death of one of Polyakov sons in US, because he was not allowed, by his superiors, to carry out a life-saving surgical operation in a US hospital (Cherkashin&Feifer/Spy Handler) a fact emerging in revenge on the Soviet system, a key element in supporting his double life.
I liked the story of Walt Lomac, an example of personal integrity, in the clash with his CIA superiors about Polyakov bona fide (page 33-34).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable book. Although the investigation that led to the arrest of Rick Ames is its centerpiece, the authors are able to illuminate the intelligence battles of the Cold War from the perspective of counterintelligence experts who witnessed many of them. The book begins with the stories of Sandy's and Jeanne's CIA careers, and moves on to an overview of CIA operations targeting Soviet intelligence during the Cold War. From there, they present a series of case studies of CIA assets from the Soviet KGB and GRU. The common theme is that nearly every case ended badly by 1985, with arrest and sometimes execution, although some of the agents were fortunate enough to escape to the West. Once these stories are told, Sandy and Jeanne begin to describe the investigation that eventually led to the traitor Rick Ames. Nearly every sentence is rich with detail, yet the descriptions remain vivid and readable.

As I noted in my book, The C.I. Desk: FBI and CIA Counterintelligence As Seen From My Cubicle (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010), I worked closely with Sandy and her frequent partner Diana Worthen in the Moscow Task Force, which Sandy refers to as "the worst assignment of her career." I wasn't crazy about it, either, but it was extremely rewarding to have the benefit of their guidance and experience while cooped up in our tiny office. I was also able to learn from Jeanne, Sandy, and Diana in other assignments, both while I was in the CIA and in the FBI before that, and I am very grateful for knowing them. In the preface to Circle of Treason, Sandy and Jeanne note their frustration with prepublication review. The C.I. Desk was also subjected to lengthy review.
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