Before listening to An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, I knew only the broad outline of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal filled with blatant antisemitism that divided France from from 1894 until 1906. The twists and turns during this 12-year period are amazing and exciting. It is sometimes hard to believe this all really happened. Émile Zola’s 1898 open letter to the President of France accusing the French government of antisemitism was both courageous and dramatic.
Robert Harris’s writing is superb and based upon through research. The book has a lot of detail which added to my enjoyment. As a result of this detail, I felt as though I was actually in France.
I enjoyed learning about an important chapter of French history filled with intrigue. The ending is amazing and left me wanting more, despite the length of the audiobook (a little over 16 hours).
The audiobook is narrated by David Rintoul, an accomplished Scottish actor. His intonation and pronunciation are exceptional and added greatly to my enjoyment of the audiobook.
After the KGB was tipped off to Gordievsky’s work with the British, the KGB recalled him to Moscow for interrogation. Miraculously, with the help of the British, he managed to escape to London by car via Finland and Norway. His escape is gripping reading. I still can’t believe the escape plan succeeded. Macintyre’s writing is excellent. He makes every word count.
Ben Macintyre writes for The Times of London and is the author of other espionage books including A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes.
Since 2017, the Intelligence Matters podcast has provided an in-depth insider look into the intelligence community. The host of the podcast is Michael Morell, who served as the acting Director of the CIA first in 2011 and then from 2012 to 2013. Morell was by President Bush’s side on September 11, 2001 when terrorists struck America and in the White House Situation Room advising President Obama on May 1, 2011 when America struck back-killing Usama bin Ladin.
Morell interviews top leaders of the U.S. intelligence community as they reflect on their lives, careers and the roles they play in shaping national security policies. Past guests have included former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism at the New York Police Department and former NSA and CIA Director General Mike Hayden. What results is a conversation between two people with deep knowledge of the intelligence community.
Before the advent of podcasting, interviews like this would not have been available to the general public. In addition, Morell is a skilled interviewer. While no secrets can be revealed, listeners learn how those in the intelligence community approach national security issues and how they advise the country’s top leadership, including the President. It’s an eye opening experience.