A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
One of the great cold-war, spy novel epics. Belongs on the shelf next to le Carré's Karla Trilogy: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / The Honourable Schoolboy / Smiley's People and Mailer's Harlot's Ghost.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
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.
This is the best audio book I have ever listened to. I have listened to several fiction and non-fiction books but none of them come close to being as captivating as this one. When I tell my friends about this book I describe it as one of the best historical fiction books ever authored.
The characters are well developed, the historical data is probably very accurate, his overrall knowledge of the spy business seems well researched, and his speculation of how and why events may have occured during the cold war, was at times very creative. But I personally, could not stay focused for 35 of 40 anticlimatic hours. Unless you're in the CIA, or a person who just plain enjoys long, long stories, you're better off waiting for the abridged version. He would have been better off creating a series of 4 stories, each with their own climax, while baiting us to impatiently anticipate the next release at $20 per release, rather than giving it to us all in one shot for $70.00.
This is an excellent book that transfers perfectly to an audio format. It never seemed too long, but kept the listener engaged to the very end. Highest recommendation.
This book transported me into the story. Not many books are so compelling as to mesmerize a listner to such an extent. Of course the brilliant reading by Scott Brick helps. Brick does an outstanding job of bringing the characters to life. But back to Littels. The span of the story is just amazing. Covering half a century of the CIA's history must have been difficult. Littell makes it seem easy. Nearly all the major victory's and defeats of the spy agency are included. What a fascinating look inside spook work. I feel so strongly about the quality of this book, that I beg you to listen to it.
Long time Audible member (8 years, 500+ books). Avid flyfisherman, hunter, bicycler.
Wow - what a great historical novel about the CIA during the Cold War - from the end of WWII to the fall of the Soviet Union. The author creates an intriguing, suspenseful tale woven around the careers of several great CIA men and women. The mole hunt for Kim Philby, the Bay of Pigs, the communist invasion of Hungary, the coup attempt against Gorbachev, and more, are just some of the events that are told with suspense and detail that makes them memorable and relevant.
Scott Brick is SUPERB in this reading. I had nearly given up on Scott Brick narrated novels due to his tendency to sound whiny and effete, but clearly he's been rehearsing. His ability to switch between Boston, New York, Russian, German, and even a Ronald Reagan accent is excellent. With the many characters in this book, that ability is critical to the understanding of the dialog. Hats off to Brick on this outstanding performance.
So plan some time (40+ hours) to get into a great spy novel based on historical events. You won't be sorry.
I actually looked for a book narrated by Scott Brick who is my favorite and found The Company. For the past 39 hours of listening (I have two hours to go) my interest has been thoroughly focused on the ongoing saga of the CIA and the main characters. If only 1/10th were true, it is scary. It started out slowly but picked up the pace and has kept me eager for my next exercise session which is when I get to be entertained. A great incentive! A great book!
This book deserves more than 5 stars. It is truly a masterpiece. Scott Brick is a wonderful narrator and really does this book justice.
Can´t praise enough. This is a phenomenal book with a plot that spans through decades and full with fascinating characters. Absolutely fantastic.