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The Quantum Spy: A Thriller Hardcover – November 7, 2017
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- Publishers Weekly
“The Quantum Spy is David Ignatius at the top of his game! A truly thrilling, superbly crafted spy novel that focuses on pivotal contemporary issues―the competition to achieve quantum computing technology, the high stakes rivalry between the U.S. and China, and the conduct of spycraft in a digital age.”
- General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA, commander of the Surge in Iraq, and commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan
“The story moves along well, weaving in the author’s extensive research without slowing the pace. While the science gets geeky in spots, it’s still fun―and the complex intrigue will please thriller fans.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“Ignatius…demonstrates again his superior storytelling skills. This engrossing tale of spy vs. counterspy rockets back and forth from Washington, DC, to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA, to Beijing. ... In this sly, fast-moving story, everyone is hiding something. … Ignatius’s latest is up to his usual high standards and should appeal to all lovers of spy fiction.”
- Library Journal
“The Quantum Spy provides a thrilling window into the future world of high-tech espionage. David Ignatius may call it a novel, but for those of us who know the work of the intelligence community, this book is nothing less than a real-life insight into the ongoing battle for dominance in the digital world. The names may be fictitious, but what they are fighting about is very real!”
- Leon E. Panetta, former director of the CIA (2009–2011) and secretary of defense (2011–2013)
“A work for now and forever. A contemporary adversary: China. A contemporary problem: quantum computing. And the ageless battle of spy versus spy. Couldn’t put it down.”
- Michael Hayden,Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA (2006–2009) and NSA (1999–2005)
“I’ve read many novels by David Ignatius and have loved them all―but The Quantum Spy takes us to a whole new level of intrigue and espionage. It’s also unbelievably timely. In short: David Ignatius knows his stuff.”
- Wolf Blitzer
About the Author
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Thus the stakes are high. Ignatius’ protagonist is Harris Chang, ex-Army and now a CIA operations officer. He is tasked to find the mole. Along the way he sets up a Chinese scientist in Singapore, visits a lab in Seattle, spends quite a bit of time in CIA black sites in Washington D.C. as well as the Langley headquarters, meets up with an MSS operative in Mexico City and the book ends with a fast paced denouement in Amsterdam.
The book also deals with Chang’s ethnicity and how MSS uses that to put him under suspicion in the CIA. He maybe all-American, but to some in the CIA his loyalty is questioned.
We learn quite a bit about CIA tradecraft along the way. We also learn that the U.S. is likely at a disadvantage relative to China because there are far more Chinese students studying in America than there are American students studying in China. Simply put they know more about us than we know about them and there more than a few Chinese students studying computer science in the U.S.
Although the book is slow at times, I recommend “The Quantum Spy” for those readers interested in what the post-Cold War spy versus spy is like.
So, what's the big deal about quantum computers (yawn)? From QS: "...it would take a classical computer more than ten million years to factor a fifty-digit number, whereas it would take less than a second on a quantum computer...All (existing) codes could be decrypted and read." The reader will learn a bit more about quantum computers - they exist only on paper, and efforts have been underway to develop the hardware for years - and that's all you need to know on the subject. Naturally there is a spy vs. spy race.
And there's so much more in this great spy novel. Yes, there's a mole in a U.S. agency. A high level one, with a relative associated with the agency. There is also a high level Chinese spy caught by the Americans with his fingers in the till and some other naughty places; the Chinese want revenge. The plot moves nicely along at a delicious pace, and the story hops from Europe to Canada to Mexico and even to my hometown! And there is a grand big showdown with a nice twisty but not all-together unexpected finale. Where? That turns out to be the critical, unanswered question - how can the agency cover their asset if the meeting location is unknown? Will quantum technology help?
Wait, there's still more. David Ignatius is a serious writer, a journalist for the Washington Post, an author of nine other excellent novels, and a frequent contributor to Morning Joe (he's the adult in the group, the big picture guy). Ignatius also offers us an introspective look at Harris Chang, a U.S. Intelligence Officer. Ignatius makes a strong argument in the Acknowledgement that this story is pure fiction and little is real. But the rather depressing inner workings and relationships in the U S Agency as described here seem to be too close to our enemy counterparts. U S Agents must be focused on their self-protection not only in the field but in the office as well. There is also a theme of how American citizens of a different skin color and foreign roots assimilate and are viewed by others. This comes up many times, hitting us with a not so gentle reminder of how difficult we make life for some of our fellow citizens. Not just in certain regions of our country but in one of our more respected intelligence agencies. Harris Chang: "But I began to see that to my American colleagues, I will always be Chinese. That is the first thing they see. The color of my skin."
Top international reviews
do not disappoint and big bosses often remain in control
Here you will find all the typical ingredients of the great espionage stories by Ignatius, plus the remarkable attempt to innovate the genre taking it out of the abused cold war or middle east context. The book is about an espionage was between the US and China in the futuristic field of quantum computing; the novel touches quite effectively also on the socio-cultural theme of the (lack of) integration of the Chinese-American in the US.
So,I thought the attempt was successful and if I gave it only 4 stars is because of the ending which I thought was a little weak compared to the high level of the whole book.
This well written story includes a grab bag of current topical issues – quantum computing, Chinese - American rivalry, identity politics - and Mr Ignatius writes well. The characters of Vendel and Cheng are well drawn, and the dialog is particularly well written. Unfortunately, the other main character – the deep mole inside the CIA, seemed to me rather weak, and the motivations for treachery are juvenile and lacking the depth that such actions would require, at least in a novel. I also thought that the quantum computer technology should have been a stronger part of the story. Great technology driven stories – say Firefox, or The Hunt for Red October – have the technology as a living character in the story. The quantum computer does play a role at the end of this story, but it performs rather the function of a very quick image searcher, rather than anything revolutionary. But perhaps this is what the author intended – maybe all the hype of quantum computers will peter out, and they will be just a somewhat better computer, rather than something which will change the world.
Overall a solid, topical spy story, well worth reading.
Here the book which starts on a Mole being its draw gives away the name of the mole in the middle
After that there is nothing new
good guys(yankies) outwitting bad guys (chinese) and at the end Yeah Good Guys Win
Not worth buying ,when it comes on kindle unlimited then go for it