Spy Books for August 2017
Each month as part of a new Spybrary feature I want to share with you what spy books I plan to read. I am always looking for guests to discuss these with so let me know if you fancy coming on the Spybrary Podcast to chat about any of these spy books. A few may become Brush Pass episodes like my debut offering ‘Goodbye to An Old Friend – Episode lucky 13 on the Spybrary Podcast.
(Full disclosure – I listen to some via Audible. Audiobooks are part of my battle plan in an attempt to win the fight to shrink my waist line as I try and get in 15,000 steps in a day.)
Here is my August 2017 spy books reading list –
Stephen King – On Writing. Ok, so not really a spy book but hear me out. I interview and interact with a lot of authors. I love reading but rarely write (as you can probably tell from my blog posts 😉 I am keen to understand some of the techniques and the craft of writing. Several friends of mine who happen to write, swear by this one. I am no fan of horror stories, I can’t even watch a horror movie yet this book appeals to me as its short and King has an infectious humour that I am enjoying. I would not mind having a beer with King. Actually he is an ex-alcoholic better make it a root beer. Will it teach me about the mechanics of writing? Well there are no needless adjectives or passive verbs in this paragraph (something King hates!) so this is a start right?
Jeremy Duns – The Moscow Option. ‘The World is on the Brink and only a Traitor can Save it!’ This novel is the final book in his trilogy about Paul Dark. (Yes I know he wrote 4 novels, Spy Out the Land will be read in September if I can get through this little lot.) I had planned to savor these books as I usually tear through these series. Dark has hooked me though, following ‘Free Agent’ and being able to chat with Duns about his work on Episode 11 of the podcast, I could not help but start his sequel. I ripped through that one and now I am curious to know where the story goes.
The Greatest Traitor – The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake by Roger Hermiston. Before I started hosting Spybrary I would alternate my reading – spy fiction followed by spy fact. I am just finishing Kim Philby’s My Silent War and realised that whilst I have read widely on the Cambridge Spies, I know very little about George Blake. After imprisonment he broke out of a tough British jail (this must have inspired Brian Freemantle’s Charlie Muffin novel -Blind Run) and scarpered to the Soviet Union so an interesting tale. I reached out to our friend Brian Gray at the Sunday Spy Show for help in picking a book on George Blake, Brian knows his stuff when it comes to espionage history and he recommended this one. Can’t wait to get started.
A Foreign Country – Charles Cumming. This author is lauded by many Spybrarians and as I may get to meet him at the Summer of Spies event in London, I decided to make a start on his trilogy. I initially planned on alternating these with Jeremy Duns’ Paul Dark books but as I say Dark hooked me. I am excited to start this one as it has received so much praise from the Spybrary community.
Inside East Germany, The State that Came In From the Cold – Jonathan Steele. Ok again not so much a spy book but you guys know I am a nerd when it comes to the German Democratic Republic. I picked this book up some time ago as the author Jonathan Steele (a British journalist) was accused of wearing rose (or should that be red) tinted spectacles when he wrote this snapshot of East Germany in 1977. He claims to write using first hand observation of the GDR and reports on the stats that were available. Even if this info is skewed (and yes hindsight is a great thing when it comes to historical accounts) I am intrigued by this book. Inside East Germany has been on my shelf for some time so its high time I got stuck in.
Meanwhile on the viewing front I am still working my way through British TV show Special Branch. This series ran from 1969 – 1974 and is a police drama with plenty of espionage and spy stuff thrown in. Some very topical storylines and plots for its time. Special Branch is not in the Sandbaggers league but enjoyable all the same. They don’t make TV like they used to, that’s for sure!!
What are you reading and watching this month? Let us know on the Spybrary Facebook Group.