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A truly amazing story set in the latter part of the 1960s, during the Cold War period. In the publisher's synopsis, it is claimed that this is a fictional account based on true events. If this is so, the 'stranger than fiction' label must certainly apply here.
Two soldiers, one a two term Vietnam veteran, are assigned on the same day to a remote German posting, 3FO, which has the reputation of being, " the trash pile of the U.S. intelligence community." Both come with baggage - the younger man had fallen foul of an erroneous rumour that he was homosexual and the older vet was a black officer. Neither are welcomed by their new commanding officer and form a survival friendship in the face of camp hostility. The pair meet with two counterpart intelligence officers on the Russian side, one of who had been a friend of Shelby, the younger soldier, when at college and, after an half hearted attempt to recruit the two Americans, the Russians decide they want to detect. Indeed, one even needs it to appear that he is dead to prevent any future search for him. Unable to get any help from the CIA or the army intelligence, the two soldiers decide to go it alone and sort it out themselves.
This is not a fast paced action book but is, nevertheless, diffused with tension as well as giving interesting insights into the workings and attitudes of so called Intelligence agencies of the time and some of the people within them. There are also delicious little stories told along the way, and especially enjoyable was the reaction to an uncut video shown, at their request, to a gathering of congressmen. The whole book has that absurdity of truth and gentle impossibility which makes it feel so real. I hope it is, as stated, based on fact.
The narrator, Bob Johnson, has a very pleasant voice and reads the whole with consistent expertise. The different voices are just enough to differentiate the characters and his Russian accents are subdued, not an outrageous caricature. The steady, undramatic performance enhances the feeling of reality. My only concern, and it is a personal one, was that his soothing voice and gentle cadences tended to pull me into a sleepy state and I had to rewind to repeat sections I had missed.
This is not a fast action spy story, no James Bond types here. But a sold, often amusing, tale of getting it done in the face of neglect and opposition both personal and from the state. My thanks to the right's holder for gifting me this book, via Audiobook Boom. I enjoyed it immensely and warmly recommend it to anyone who enjoys quirky spy tales from this era as well as anyone who simply wants a remarkable and different thriller.
This story proves the joke about "military intelligence." The general tone of the book reminds me of M*A*S*H. It's got elements of farce, satire, romance, suspense, adventure, friendship, and the eternal battle against stupidity.
The story starts with intelligent U.S. soldiers ostracized to the most isolated U.S. base in Germany because, basically, they did their jobs too well. Then one of them runs into a childhood friend, a Russian who now works for the KGB and who desperately wants to escape the system he and his fiancee are trapped in. But if they defect, they will be on the run for the rest of their lives. So, the plan is born to "kill" him off by Christmas.
The narrator does a superb job with this story. The way he juggles the various accents is wonderful. (Imagine a Russian speaking "deep South black," a German woman speaking "British English," an American speaking "Pennsylvania Dutch German," etc.) And his even, dry tone, in the face of incredible plot twists, somehow makes the entire story funnier.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
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This is hard to review. While the story is interesting and entertaining overall, it took me forever to listen to this book. The story started off very slowly and the narration was just too calming. I could only listen for a little at a time. Each would be good separately, but for me this combination just didn't work.
A tale of Cold War espionage. When two KGB agents want to defect they can't get any help from the U. S. government. When you can't get help from the government what do you do? Figure out a way to do it yourself.
The characters just didn't have any real- well character. They were just there.
Narration - good & bad.
Bob Johnson does a good job with the narration overall. He has a pleasant voice. Clearly spoken with a smooth even pace. Some of his character voices and accents are really good. The non character parts of this story are just spoken too softly, calmly and soothing in this book. In an espionage/thriller you need a little more excitement in the narration. His voice would be great for reading poetry or bedtime stories.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator or publisher