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Steinbeck: Citizen Spy Paperback – September 12, 2013
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William Ray PhD, SteinbeckNow.com
...it [Steinbeck: Citizen Spy] deserves full reading, fair consideration, and frank discussion by Steinbeck lovers everywhere. American progressives owe Kannard a particular debt of gratitude for reopening a shameful chapter in our history, for fighting bureaucratic government shutdown to gain access to undisclosed CIA documents, and for providing a plausible answer to a puzzling question: Did John Steinbeck avoid HUAC by signing up with the CIA?
About the Author
After pursuing a degree in Finance and Economics at David Lipscomb University, Brian ran small business concerns for three years and entered the world of corporate management in 1998 for an eleven-year tour. In 2009, Brian left his management career to finish his first book, Skullduggery: 45 True Tales of Disturbing the Dead, and in early 2010, opened the independent publishing house Grave Distractions Publications. In the last three years, Grave Distractions has published over fifty books for nineteen different authors, including the works of Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Dr. Robert Eisenman of the University of California, Long Beach and American History Professor Dr. James T. Baker of Western Kentucky University. Brian also does freelance writing and his articles have been featured in such places as: Armchair General Magazine, CNN, Coast to Coast AM, Psychic Oracle Magazine, Red Ice Creations, Yahoo News, and Unexplained Mysteries. Brian is also a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason and writes the esoteric themed blog, Grail Seekers. Assisting Brian in his work is his lovely wife Laura, son Robert, and unholy black cats Preacher and Mercado. Currently, Brian is considering a number of projects delving into Cold War mysteries.
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Except maybe we don't know him at all. There have always been curiosities in the customary story of Steinbeck's life--most notably, perhaps, the way he completely dodged the Red Scare that did so much damage to so many of his artistic colleagues in the 1950s. Wikipedia tells us that the FBI "could find no basis for prosecuting Steinbeck," but plenty of people found themselves hauled before a Congressional committee to have their lives turned inside out and their livelihoods destroyed without ever committing a prosecuteable crime. Not so Steinbeck.
That's the sort of oddity that started Brian Kannard on a long period of detective work. His conjecture: that John Steinbeck had been left alone by the goons of the House Un-American Activities Committee because he was working for the intelligence services of the United States. If not exactly a "spy," he was an asset, making observations and doing little jobs for the CIA all through the Cold War.
A crazy idea, right? Until finally, one more in an endless stream of Freedom of Information Act requests produced a 1952 letter, in Steinbeck's own hand, to the Director of Central Intelligence, offering his services to the Agency. And another letter from the DCI accepting them (Steinbeck's letter can be seen on the cover of the book; it is of course reproduced inside). So those things are facts, and by themselves they are worth the price of admission. Just those two letters will change the way we understand a great American author's life. But there is much more here--using Steinbeck's life as a guideline, Kannard takes us through a history of espionage in the 20th Century: front organizations, psychological warfare operations, assassinations, propaganda campaigns. Again and again, Steinbeck turns up in the thick of things, and those 1952 letters force us to scratch our heads and wonder...
There is a lot in this book, and the thread can be a bit hard to follow at times. But it's a heck of a ride, intriguing and even quite thrilling as we read along and find ourselves in possession of that incredible letter.
A great read for literati, historians, and espionage geeks. This is a book that is bound to have an impact, and oblige us to reconsider a man we all thought we knew. Who knows what further discoveries may come of it?