An exciting story that sustains throughout and delivers a one-two punch from start to finish. A well written spy novel, modern-day mystery, and character study wrapped up in great style and delivered through the brilliant narration of Scott Brick. If you want to relive the cold war through real people, true events, and a step-by step walk through a dark corridor of history -- don't miss this book.
You wouldn't know this is fiction - if you know American Intel History you would think this is a non-fiction accounting the CIA past.
Long, but keeps you interested.
Addicted to Audible!
I cant believe that this book is as long as it was because it didnt seem that long when I was listening. The characters and the plots never got dull and it was an interesting look at history along the way. I rented the movie after listening and was very dissapointed as the book was far superior. For any fans of espionage novels this is a must listen. Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrators and as usual he does an amazing job!
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
Perhaps the chief attraction of this book is its decades-long narrative which touches every one of the U.S./Soviet flashpoints between the early fifties and the fall of the Kremlin old guard. We are given a nice view of the through line in this central confrontation of the second half of the 20th C.
Unfortunately this is also the story's chief weakness. We are asked to believe that this tiny handful of central characters was, Zelig-like, present and vital at every climactic moment over a thirty year span and then went on to run the CIA as, essentially, their own little shop. By the end there is something rather absurd about how thinly they have been spread.
Nonetheless, there are times when Littell spins a ripping good story, notably in the cases of the Hungarian uprising, the Bay of Pigs and the rise of Boris Yeltzin. He gives us gripping closeups of each, complete with some memorable minor characters and the requisite hairsbreadth escapes. The outcomes are uniformly predictable, but the we still enjoy the trip each time, and with so much compelling history to cover, the author is able to keep the story unwinding at a pace which seldom lags. If only the leading players came to life along with the episodes. Only one really does, and he labors throughout his entire life for the Communist cause.
Now I don't often wax on about how great these audio books are. As you've probably figured out, there's occasional diamonds, and a whole lot of stones. This one is rare indeed! Essentially a fictionalized narrative history of the CIA from post-WW II through the end of the Cold War, it's a wonderful story! Scott Brick does an outstanding job with the voices, nuances, and accents. He's a great narrator! Littell's epic tale follows a number of actual historic characters through the years ... there are a number of international espionage accounts, with one overall mystery running through to the final end: who is the longstanding mole in CIA working with the Russians since the beginning(?). I found myself regularly jumping off to look up characters and events on Wikipedia to see how real history paralleled the narrative. It's really fantastic how Littell weaves it all together. Wonderfully intriguing and historic characters such as "The Sorcerer", James Jesus Alexander, Kim Philby, "The Rabbi", and on and on. The ending does not disappoint and is inspired. Hell, it might even be real! Try it, you'll like it!
I was initially reluctant to start a 40 hours book, but I was astonished at how quickly the time passed. It was over far too soon. I realize this book is a fictionalized version of history, but the foundations in fact make this a very compelling commentary on practices and policies of this country during the Cold War, and beyond. I only wish this book had been twice as long!!
Excellent character development and plot, but can at times leave you in the dust if you're not paying attention to the names and AKAs. You WILL use rewind, but it's well worth it. The story is compelling and timely. The references make you feel like you're getting the behind the scenes 'real' story of the CIA and it's role in historical events. It will drive you to listen long after you should stop and get on with life. The narrator is fantastic and brings life to all the characters. A must read!
This is my first Rober Littell book and I really enjoyed it. It keeps you guessing right up until the very end. I thought I might be getting sick of it by the end of 40 hours, but not so.
Scott Brick is an excellent narrator. Although, he could be more consistent in volume. There are times when listening through the cassette adapter in my car that I couldn't hear him well at all. I know that changes in volume can add some drama, but if you can't hear what he's saying, drama gives way to frustration.
This book is huge.....long.....and captivating all the way......
It had me wanting to continue listening for more at every minute of it's (40?) hours. It is the most enjoyable listen I have had to date and gave a seemingly realistic insight into the workings of the CIA and other spy agencies.
The character development is excellent, from the Uni study days, through recruitment , training , first posts and on to senior positions and eventually end of careers.
It nicely ties in realistic events in great detail, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion and leaves you wondering if this is a non fiction or a novel.
Be warned...it will take over your life ! Your family will be sicj of seeing you listening and wearing your earphones - you won't be able to stop listening.
Excellent narration. Highly recomended
This was one of the first audible books I purchased - I think I was going for quantity. I listed to the first CD twice at different points in time but abandoned the effort each time. However, I have great faith in Audible reviewers and this book was one of the highest rated, widely read books on the site. I tried again and finally broke into the second CD. From there on, I was transported back to times and events I could remember but this book both refreshed that history and gave it a new perspective. How could one so quickly forget living the Cold War?
Unlike a few other reviewers, I applaud the reading by Brick as I could swear he recorded the Kennedy and Reagan White House conversations they seemed so real. Maybe you have to be of a certain age to truly appreciate this reading.