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The Company: A Novel of the CIA Paperback – Print, March 25, 2003
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The historical events of that crucial period are well known to most of us. The end of World War II and the division of Germany into sectors by the Allies laid the groundwork for the Cold War and the rise of the OSS, a wartime branch of the American government, into one of the most powerful tools of intelligence.
The involvement of that agency in the defection of Burgess and MacLean from Britain to the Soviet Union; the Suez Canal crisis, which ended Britain's role as a superpower; the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis; the arming of rebels in Afghanistan to repel the encroaching Soviet forces; the Gulf War--all are well documented here.
All these events, which had such major consequences for our own history and that of the world, were well known to, organized by, or played out with the full cooperation of the CIA. These, as well as such minor events as defections on both sides, are the backdrop to this novel which stars a large cast of characters who we get to know as young men and women recruited while still in college. Their personal and public lives are followed as they rise through the ranks of the Company, and we know that one of them is a mole. We don't know who it is any more than the CIA does, and it will take years to unmask the traitor.
In the meantime, we have become involved not only with Littell's fictional characters, but also with some of the real people who inhabited that world: William F. Buckley Jr., G. Gordon Liddy, William Casey--and we are privy to conversations in both the Kennedy and Reagan Oval Offices.
We also know by the end of this exciting story that the fight is not always the good fight. Compromises are made, mistakes happen, and pragmatism wins out over idealism. We do not live in a perfect world, but it's the only one we have and it is that way because of the events in this book. Don't let its size deter you. This is nothing less than a stunning historical document. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
With that said, I was stunned to read other reviews for this book that ruin the reading experience. If it were possible to have someone's review removed...I would look to see how it was done. Harmless as it may seem, there are a few plot twists that come near the end and are profoundly important to the whole scope of the book. To be this careless, simply amazes me.
So please. Don't read the following reviews by other readers without some warning that you may be getting more information about the book than you really need or should want at this point.
Robert Littell takes several young men who joined the brand-new CIA after the war and follows their careers. All enter the spy game because their experiences with communism during the war have lead them to believe that it is a destructive element that must be halted. From the same war comes a young communist who as whole-heartedly believes that communism is the salvation of the world. They will fight on different battlegrounds throughout "The Company"--Berlin, Hungary, Cuba, Afghanistan--until communism collapses.
In many ways, "The Company" is a standard spy thriller, with ample supply of the requisite secrets, double-crossing, and triple agents. There's an unnecessary Alice in Wonderland theme throughout and some clunky writing. But what makes the book stand out is not just the skill Littell brings to the plot,
but the scope. This is a history of covert activities, and because we see so many major incursions represented, we can watch disturbing patterns develop. It seems that since WWII, the U.S. has entered a number of frays for all the right reasons and withdrawn before the matter could be resolved. "The Company" deals with the spies and civilians left dangling, and raises questions about earlier policies that may have left us vulnerable to terrorists.
This is a timely book that I hope will excite discussion and increase understanding. If readers don't agree with Littell's take on events, then I hope they'll do research on their own. "The Company" should encourage readers to take a look at the past, and is a whopping good read to boot.
To any readers of Cold War novels all of the topics that are covered in this book will be familiar but not unwelcome. This book covers a very large portion of the CIA'S existence and presents familiar events as part of a continuum as opposed to focusing on a single event like The Bay Of Pigs, Kennedy, Suez, etc in isolation. There are very good books on all of these topics both documentary and in the form of novels. This work places them all in a larger continual historical context as well as a more realistic one. These historical events did not take place in solitary or in a vacuum, they were events that were planned and dealt with together with all of the other issues that were at hand for the agency at the time. They were also planned and executed by people who developed and created the atmosphere of the agency with their talents as well as their faults. By presenting the large picture as opposed to an isolated historical event, Mr. Littell gives readers the wide perspective that only an inclusive history can offer.
This is a novel and while not appropriate it is tempting to forget that what you are reading contains much truth albeit as presented in the form of literary fiction. Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
With excellent voice performance by Scott Brick and reading at speed of 1.5x, I didn't find the 41 hours and 22 minutes (of this Spy story) long at all. Read morePublished 1 month ago by MIGHTYA
I enjoyed the incorporation of history into the story line as well as the inside view of spy craft. However about 2/3 of the way through I started wishing it would end.Published 5 months ago by Ray Robidoux
Detailed historical content. Accurate and believable. Actual names of government officials and politicians. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Robert Pollock
It's like reading a history book that's entertaining and exciting. I was around during the period covered by the book and remember the incidents described. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M. Lucas
If you are a CIA buff, you will love this story of the CIA and the moles of the 50's and early 60's.Published 6 months ago by Vincent L. Boyer