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Publisher's Summary

The fascinating story of a young American amateur who helped the FBI bust a Russian spy in New York - sold in 10 countries and in a major deal with 20th Century Fox.

For three nerve-wracking years, Naveed Jamali spied on America for the Russians, trading thumb drives of sensitive technical data for envelopes of cash, selling out his own beloved country across noisy restaurant tables and in quiet parking lots. Or so the Russians believed. In fact this young American civilian was a covert double agent working with the FBI. The Cold War wasn't really over. It had just gone high tech.

How to Catch a Russian Spy is the one-of-a-kind story of how one young man's post-college adventure became a real-life US counterintelligence coup. He had no previous counterespionage experience. Everything he knew about undercover work he'd learned from Miami Vice and Magnum PI reruns and movies like Ronin, Spy Game, and anything with Bond or Bourne in the title. And yet, hoping to gain experience to become a navy intelligence officer, he convinced the FBI and the Russians they could trust him. With charm, cunning, and a big load of naiveté, he matched wits with a veteran Russian military-intelligence officer who was recruiting spies on American soil, outmaneuvering the Russian spy and his secret-hungry superiors. Along the way Jamali and his FBI handlers cast a rare light on espionage activities at the Russian Mission to the United Nations in New York and earned a solid US win in the escalating hostilities between Moscow and Washington.

Now Jamali reveals the whole engaging story behind his double-agent adventure - from coded signals on Craigslist to the Russian spy's propensity for Hooters' Buffalo wings. Cinematic, news-breaking, and wildly entertaining, How to Catch a Russian Spy is an armchair spy fantasy brought to life.

Film rights sold to 20th Century Fox for director Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, 500 Days of Summer).

©2015 Naveed Jamali (P)2015 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    43
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    40
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    26
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    12
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    13

Performance

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    43
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    28
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    8
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Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • ar
  • 07-01-15

The whole book is a humblebrag.

What did you like best about How to Catch a Russian Spy? What did you like least?

You know when your friend studies abroad in Spain for 1 semester and then they come back really adamant about pronouncing Barcelona as "Barthelona" ? That's just a tiny fraction of this guy. You can hardly get to the story without him dropping random Master's degree's that his family has, random references to graduate student beloved writers, and name drops of esoteric post-modern authors. Sure, I understood because this was, moronically, the type of stuff I chose to study in college. But Man, this guy is SO over the top. It's like a guy struggling to bench press as much as he can to show you that he can. The story is totally 2nd to you understanding how cool and hip and urbane he is. He's so well read and dreamy.... and what are we even talking about? Russian Spies?

He waxes poetic for entire chapters about how cool he was in high school and college, making you sit around and relive his glory days with him, like he's Al Bundy from "Married with Children" talking about his four touchdowns that one game back at Polk High.

What I liked best? I guess the few moments of 'fly on the wall' insight where a) it didn't feel like he wasn't embellishing, which was rare, and b) he wasn't flexing his 'I just got out of grad school, look at all these random esoteric names I can drop' muscles. But those moments were fleeting.

What was most disappointing about Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican ’s story?

How insecure this guy must feel on a regular basis.

What three words best describe Kirby Heyborne’s performance?

Just Too Much

Do you think How to Catch a Russian Spy needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Definitely not - the writer just needs to gain some confidence and focus on telling a gripping story. We're here for the russian spy stuff, not how cool it was that time you got sent to the principals office in school (I wish I was joking)

Any additional comments?

The narrator - He actually wasn't bad , but the accents were terrible and ill-advised in general. Really doesn't help add to the 'non-fiction' vice when he's doing goofy voices for every character.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Pretentious egotism

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A real plot not a narrative.

Would you ever listen to anything by Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican again?

Never

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kirby Heyborne?

Anyone. He made it sound like the author was a twelve year old.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None

Any additional comments?

Why the FBI would have put any credence in the author is alarming in the extreme. His motives for getting involved as he did were transparently pure egotism from the first to the last page and he did a poor job of disguising it. His bare all patriotism made him sound like an infatuated adolescence. How on earth did this book get published at all? The read, that I dutifully finished, was a complete waste of time.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Short story made into a long book

What would have made How to Catch a Russian Spy better?

About half as long

Would you ever listen to anything by Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican again?

Likely not

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kirby Heyborne?

I thought Kirby did a fine job

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from How to Catch a Russian Spy?

Too many to mention. That's the problem. There's just too many verbose scenes, i.e. saying a lot about nothing. Who cares about what kind or color of chair Naveed sits in? How overly dramatic can you make the scene where Naveed gives the Russian a copy of a linguistic file? How over done can you make Naveed's conversations with different Naval officers? The book was just too long w/simple scenes made far too wordy.

Any additional comments?

I expected a story much more interesting and engaging. Going back to it was a chore.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

How an arrogant know-it-all mixed fact and fiction

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I suppose there are those who find this book funny, but I was mostly annoyed. I understand they are making a movie from it.

Would you ever listen to anything by Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican again?

No.

What three words best describe Kirby Heyborne’s performance?

Professional.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Annoyance and disappiontment

Any additional comments?

The subject of the book comes across as spoiled and full of himself. The idea that such a young man could convince the FBI to work with him is nearly unbelievable and suggests that the agency is desperate, particularly when the subject took his plans and strategy from spy movies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • JD
  • 10-22-15

slow, so much so i didnt want to finish it

i was such a long slow trip look John le Carre takes a while to tell a story but this writer just seems to talk just to hear his own voice. could have been done much less time..
Kirby Heyborne was exellent as usual just not much to work with.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great read! Wonderfully interpreted

I enjoyed following Naveed on his journey. From college student to Russian spy I was captivated.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • M.G
  • Phoenix, AZ USA
  • 12-19-17

True or False?

Perhaps it was the overly dramatic reading, perhaps the need to disguise a spy's true story that made some parts of this narrative hard to believe. Nevertheless, this book held my interest for the most part.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ghost
  • San Jose, CA, USA
  • 10-09-17

The meaningful content is less than ten percent

Interesting story but very, very diluted. I suggest listening at 1.5-2.0 speed.
There is a lot of dramatization of things that do not add to the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

My preconceived notion was way off

I listened to the story for hours at a time. I felt like i was living the story. the description the author uses is superb.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Sophomoric narrator, Lacks Technical Information

One might enjoy a book that is perhaps too realistic: the story is told by a self-proclaimed amateur so if you loved Tom Clancy for its technical information, this book may not be for you. The lack of much to say about spy craft is filled in by the narrator's personal history with many references to his love for cars, his favorite movies and his education and marriage. If there was something more, or this was an endearing personal tale, it was lost on me. I would recommend Kieth Richard's "Life" if you like personal autobiographies because strange as it sounds it is similar to this book. It far superior. Life unexpectedly focuses on Kieth's childhood, education and relationships in a manner that reveals surprising self-honesty, conveys Kieth's deep and personal love of music, and an excellent if not photographic movie. In lieu of spy craft Life has tantalizing details of the life of a rockstar though that was by no means my favorite part of the book. Note that the first chapter of Life was obviously stuck there to provide readers with some glamorous rock star 'bait' because after chapter one the book is a bit slow reading as Kieth recounts his pre-stardom childhood. While slow it is worthwhile to pay attention in order to fully understand a man who is not only a musical genius but is able to provide an extremely honest personal biography with precision.