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The Quantum Spy: A Thriller Hardcover – November 7, 2017
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“Ignatius’s realistic peek into the inner workings of the CIA and its Chinese counterpart shows why he’s at the top of the thriller pack.”
- 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
David Ignatius is a prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post and has been covering the Middle East and the CIA for nearly three decades. He has written several New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Director. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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David Ignatius writes gripping spy fiction, and this is his best work. The basis of this one is the longstanding intelligence war between the CIA and its Chinese counterpart; the story is fictional, but his careful research ensures that this could have happened. Lucky me, I read it free thanks to Edelweiss and W.W. Norton and Company Publishers. This book will be available to the public tomorrow, November 7, 2017.
Harris Chang is Chinese-American, raised to respect the red, white and blue. He works for the CIA, and has been sent to investigate a leak in a quantum research lab. As the USA and China struggle to achieve technological dominance, tensions rise. Chang wonders if he has been chosen to investigate based on his ethnicity, since he knows very little about China or even his own family tree; why yes he has. The Chinese expect to be able to turn him because of it, and over the course of time, his bosses begin to suspect that it’s happened. Harris is loyal, and he chafes at the unfairness of his treatment, but is determined to succeed. After all, what could prove his loyalty more clearly than to perform above the standard to which most of the Agency’s employees are held?
The setting changes constantly as spies chase other spies all over the world, but the story takes place primarily in Arlington, Virginia and in Singapore. There are also some especially tense, intriguing scenes set in Mexico, and I love the side details about Trotsky’s house, which is now a museum.
Ignatius dumbs down nothing for anyone, and so the reader should have literacy skills that are sharp and ready. Don’t read this one after you take your sleeping pill. Trust me.
The story can be read—and mostly will be, I think—as an enjoyable bit of escapism. With current events so intense, we all need some of that, and it’s what I expected when I requested the DRC. But I find it much more rewarding because of the racial subtext. It’s an area that’s important to me, and at first my back was up when I saw hints of it without knowing what the writer’s intentions were. So many are astonishingly clueless, or worse, when it comes to this aspect of fiction. But as I saw where he was taking it, I had to completely reevaluate my opinion. I would love to be surprised in exactly this way more frequently.
The ending made me want to stand up and cheer.
Highly recommended to those that love strong thrillers, and even more so for those that also cherish civil rights in the USA.
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.