December 22, 2007

Could Any Spy Thriller Be Told Better Than "An Ordinary Spy"?

Perhaps the story of espionage will never be told better by anyone else except by an ex-C.I.A. agent. If that's true, then, Joseph Weisberg would be the master of spy thrillers. In a thrilling story of two CIA Case Officers whose lives are permanently changed by the agents they recruit and run, Weisberg spotlights the confusing but strangely bureaucratic world of the C.I.A in his new novel, An Ordinary Spy.

The author of the critically acclaimed novel, 10th Grade (2002, Random House), which was a New York Times Notable Book in 2002, Weisberg might have achieved his goal of writing the most realistic spy novel that had ever been written in this new novel.

The book is a chronicle of the mundanity of a spy’s daily routine - not just the surveillance-detection routes and cryptic cables to headquarters, but also the staff meetings, petty rivalries between colleagues and idle chatter about pension plans. Though some details that might be classified information are blacked out in the novel.

In writing An Ordinary Spy, Mr. Weisberg, 42, used some of what he learned while training to be a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency in the early 1990s where he claims he's no longer working. But it seems that Weisberg has some complicated views about the C.I.A. One of the reasons he left the C.I.A., he said, was because he did not want to recruit agents who might face retribution for their betrayal.

So what might the other reasons be? Well, let's act as if we don't care. But, I'm sure that folks that love espionage would be interested to spy that out.

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