Marc Favreau's Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia is a Publisher's Weekly Best of 2019 pick

Nov 08, 2019
Favreau (Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America) weaves vivid, succinct accounts of the volatile U.S.-Soviet relationship into his tension-inducing spy stories, which range from the 1940s to the 1991 collapse of the U.S.S.R. While detailing the lead-up to a spy’s mission in Moscow in 1981, for example, the prologue crisply summarizes how an official policy of deterrence became the excuse for ever-proliferating nuclear weapons. Favreau’s succeeding chapters cover a well-chosen selection of spies, defectors, double agents, and moles, in the West and behind the Iron Curtain, illuminating each spy’s motivations and the spy craft employed. Several cases raise complicated moral questions, and sections on Russian espionage and the CIA since 1991 bring the reader up to 2018; Favreau ominously concludes, “The lessons of the Cold War... suddenly [seem] shockingly relevant—a prologue, perhaps, to a new and ominous showdown between old enemies.” Black-and-white photos and excellent supplemental material, including a Cold War timeline, glossaries of key espionage terms and techniques, a comprehensive list of sources, and further reading enhance the reader’s understanding of this riveting, timely topic. Ages 12–up.