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Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America

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Spy tells, for the first time, the full, authoritative story of how FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally caught in an incredible gambit by U.S. intelligence. David Wise, the nation’s leading espionage writer, has called on his unique Spy tells, for the first time, the full, authoritative story of how FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally caught in an incredible gambit by U.S. intelligence. David Wise, the nation’s leading espionage writer, has called on his unique knowledge and unrivaled intelligence sources to write the definitive, inside story of how Robert Hanssen betrayed his country, and why. Spy at last reveals the mind and motives of a man who was a walking paradox: FBI counterspy, KGB mole, devout Catholic, obsessed pornographer who secretly televised himself and his wife having sex so that his best friend could watch, defender of family values, fantasy James Bond who took a stripper to Hong Kong and carried a machine gun in his car trunk. Brimming with startling new details sure to make headlines, Spy discloses: -the previously untold story of how the FBI got the actual file on Robert Hanssen out of KGB headquarters in Moscow for $7 million in an unprecedented operation that ended in Hanssen’s arrest. -how for three years, the FBI pursued a CIA officer, code name gray deceiver, in the mistaken belief that he was the mole they were seeking inside U.S. intelligence. The innocent officer was accused as a spy and suspended by the CIA for nearly two years. -why Hanssen spied, based on exclusive interviews with Dr. David L. Charney, the psychiatrist who met with Hanssen in his jail cell more than thirty times. Hanssen, in an extraordinary arrangement, authorized Charney to talk to the author. -the full story of Robert Hanssen’s bizarre sex life, including the hidden video camera he set up in his bedroom and how he plotted to drug his wife, Bonnie, so that his best friend could father her child. - how Hanssen and the CIA’s Aldrich Ames betrayed three Russians secretly spying for the FBI–including tophat, a Soviet general–who were then executed by Moscow. -that after Hanssen was already working for the KGB, he directed a study of moles in the FBI when–as he alone knew–he was the mole. Robert Hanssen betrayed the FBI. He betrayed his country. He betrayed his wife. He betrayed his children. He betrayed his best friend, offering him up to the KGB. He betrayed his God. Most of all, he betrayed himself. Only David Wise could tell the astonishing, full story, and he does so, in masterly style, in Spy. From the Hardcover edition.


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Spy tells, for the first time, the full, authoritative story of how FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally caught in an incredible gambit by U.S. intelligence. David Wise, the nation’s leading espionage writer, has called on his unique Spy tells, for the first time, the full, authoritative story of how FBI agent Robert Hanssen, code name grayday, spied for Russia for twenty-two years in what has been called the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally caught in an incredible gambit by U.S. intelligence. David Wise, the nation’s leading espionage writer, has called on his unique knowledge and unrivaled intelligence sources to write the definitive, inside story of how Robert Hanssen betrayed his country, and why. Spy at last reveals the mind and motives of a man who was a walking paradox: FBI counterspy, KGB mole, devout Catholic, obsessed pornographer who secretly televised himself and his wife having sex so that his best friend could watch, defender of family values, fantasy James Bond who took a stripper to Hong Kong and carried a machine gun in his car trunk. Brimming with startling new details sure to make headlines, Spy discloses: -the previously untold story of how the FBI got the actual file on Robert Hanssen out of KGB headquarters in Moscow for $7 million in an unprecedented operation that ended in Hanssen’s arrest. -how for three years, the FBI pursued a CIA officer, code name gray deceiver, in the mistaken belief that he was the mole they were seeking inside U.S. intelligence. The innocent officer was accused as a spy and suspended by the CIA for nearly two years. -why Hanssen spied, based on exclusive interviews with Dr. David L. Charney, the psychiatrist who met with Hanssen in his jail cell more than thirty times. Hanssen, in an extraordinary arrangement, authorized Charney to talk to the author. -the full story of Robert Hanssen’s bizarre sex life, including the hidden video camera he set up in his bedroom and how he plotted to drug his wife, Bonnie, so that his best friend could father her child. - how Hanssen and the CIA’s Aldrich Ames betrayed three Russians secretly spying for the FBI–including tophat, a Soviet general–who were then executed by Moscow. -that after Hanssen was already working for the KGB, he directed a study of moles in the FBI when–as he alone knew–he was the mole. Robert Hanssen betrayed the FBI. He betrayed his country. He betrayed his wife. He betrayed his children. He betrayed his best friend, offering him up to the KGB. He betrayed his God. Most of all, he betrayed himself. Only David Wise could tell the astonishing, full story, and he does so, in masterly style, in Spy. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Despite the difficulty of the subject matter -- such as the betrayal of one's wife and country in the ways Robert Hanssen betrayed his -- I found this to be a fair-minded, and not entirely unsympathetic or dehumanising depiction. Hanssen unquestionably emerges as the villain, as he undoubtedly ought to be seen: his actions were reprehensible. At the same time, he was a terribly lonely, deeply wounded individual. Evil causes suffering, but the reverse is also true. Yet it does not minimise the suf Despite the difficulty of the subject matter -- such as the betrayal of one's wife and country in the ways Robert Hanssen betrayed his -- I found this to be a fair-minded, and not entirely unsympathetic or dehumanising depiction. Hanssen unquestionably emerges as the villain, as he undoubtedly ought to be seen: his actions were reprehensible. At the same time, he was a terribly lonely, deeply wounded individual. Evil causes suffering, but the reverse is also true. Yet it does not minimise the suffering of others, nor diminish the evil of the acts themselves. The mystery of human nature is revealed (but not explained, leave that for the philosophers, ethicists, and theologians) in this strange, tragic tale of one of the worst spies in U.S. history.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peg

    I recently revisited the movie Breach, with Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe, which impressed me with its taut retelling of the story of Robert Hanssen, the FBI story turned Soviet spy. Hanssen is an intriguing figure--a fundamentalist Catholic member of Opus Dei, father of six children, and former cop who sold invaluable national security secrets in exchange for a few hundred thousand dollars and plenty of ego-stroking on the part of the Russians. The movie unwound the story masterfully, from th I recently revisited the movie Breach, with Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe, which impressed me with its taut retelling of the story of Robert Hanssen, the FBI story turned Soviet spy. Hanssen is an intriguing figure--a fundamentalist Catholic member of Opus Dei, father of six children, and former cop who sold invaluable national security secrets in exchange for a few hundred thousand dollars and plenty of ego-stroking on the part of the Russians. The movie unwound the story masterfully, from the point of view of Hanssen's young and inexperienced assistant, and I thought that reading a book about Hanssen would provide even more flavor and context. It should have, anyway, but this book didn't. Although it was the best-reviewed volume on the subject, the book never rose above the level of a cheap true-crime story: ie, on this day, Hanssen dead-dropped 200 pages of classified material in a park near his house, signalling his counterparts with white adhesive tape, etc. To me, the part of this story that would have been fascinating is why those breaches *mattered.* The author apparently didn't have trouble getting permission to disclose what was in the various packages that Hanssen leaked--that information was fairly well cataloged. But a more intelligent and better-researched book would have tried to provide a taste of how those breaches affected national security, and this author barely bothered to try. He did mention some of the obvious consequences of the breaches--three Soviet double agents who were killed as a result of Hanssen revealing their identities to his handlers, for instance--but the book offers nothing on subtler points such as how the leaked information influenced the larger Cold War struggles. Did Hanssen's leaks ever affect the Cold War dynamics between the superpowers at all? If they did, I still don't know about it even after reading the book. How unsatisfying is that? This could be a great story if someone took the time to research it and tell it in context, but this book is not that work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This is the 5th book written about Robert Hanssen, a man who loved his wife, technology, and being a religious member of Opus Dei but also loved the intrigue of working for the FBI while giving FBI Intelligence information to the Soviet Union/Russia. Well researched, this book lists many facts. It was amazing to find quotes of Bob's conversations about how he and the KGB should communicate and where "drops" would be. What is harder and difficult to understand is how the man lived with himself. T This is the 5th book written about Robert Hanssen, a man who loved his wife, technology, and being a religious member of Opus Dei but also loved the intrigue of working for the FBI while giving FBI Intelligence information to the Soviet Union/Russia. Well researched, this book lists many facts. It was amazing to find quotes of Bob's conversations about how he and the KGB should communicate and where "drops" would be. What is harder and difficult to understand is how the man lived with himself. The facts point to what he did; what we can't find out is what goaded him, a religious man to also love porn, betray work the FBI was doing, and also get commended by the FBI for his work there. How schizophrenic!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hanson

    Okay, so I’ve changed the rating on this book a couple times already. I have mixed feelings! It was interesting, but some of the chapters felt out of place, and some of the information really didn’t seem necessary, and it DRAGGED. But when I finally got to the end, I was glad I read it. Idk. Maybe I’ll change the rating again later. 🙈

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Robert Hanssen's motives are some of the most complex in American espionage, and Wise offers decent thoughtful insights on them while covering a lot of ground in great detail; however, the background information sometimes seems irrelevant. I'm not into Wise's writing style(and the last chapter is garbage), but this is probably the best book available on Hanssen due to Wise's research efforts - supposedly he interviewed some 150 key individuals and was, after Hanssen's approval, given exclusive a Robert Hanssen's motives are some of the most complex in American espionage, and Wise offers decent thoughtful insights on them while covering a lot of ground in great detail; however, the background information sometimes seems irrelevant. I'm not into Wise's writing style(and the last chapter is garbage), but this is probably the best book available on Hanssen due to Wise's research efforts - supposedly he interviewed some 150 key individuals and was, after Hanssen's approval, given exclusive access to the psychiatrist assigned to Hanssen, Dr. David L. Chartney. That last part's from the back cover.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This book was a decent account of how Robert Hanssen spied for the Soviets/Russians for over twenty years. I read it because it was one of the books Nancy Pearl recommended in "Book Lust". Her description of the book made it sound a lot more interesting than it actually was. David Wise includes some rather lurid details about Hanssen's private life that only seem to be there for the sake of titillation. None of this adds anything to the story. I guess I was disappointed by the complete absence o This book was a decent account of how Robert Hanssen spied for the Soviets/Russians for over twenty years. I read it because it was one of the books Nancy Pearl recommended in "Book Lust". Her description of the book made it sound a lot more interesting than it actually was. David Wise includes some rather lurid details about Hanssen's private life that only seem to be there for the sake of titillation. None of this adds anything to the story. I guess I was disappointed by the complete absence of artistry in this book. I mean, Wise obviously did his research, and the book is clear enough, but it's prose is very flat. I guess reading Simon Winchester has raised my standards somewhat.

  7. 5 out of 5

    DanielL

    If I hadn’t know that Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America was based on a true story, I would have said that David Wise had written a wild and improbable cloak-and-dagger fiction novel. A story so wild and improbable that it was beyond belief and somewhat laughable. The fact that it is a true story makes it AMAZING. If you enjoy cloak-and-dagger spy thrillers, you’ll enjoy this true story. Robert Hanssen is a former Chicago policeman and the son of a Chicago pol If I hadn’t know that Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America was based on a true story, I would have said that David Wise had written a wild and improbable cloak-and-dagger fiction novel. A story so wild and improbable that it was beyond belief and somewhat laughable. The fact that it is a true story makes it AMAZING. If you enjoy cloak-and-dagger spy thrillers, you’ll enjoy this true story. Robert Hanssen is a former Chicago policeman and the son of a Chicago policeman who rose through the ranks of the FBI to a senior position in the FBI with access to the most sensitive intelligence information about US vs. Russia activities. For 22 years, Robert Hanssen divulged these FBI / CIA / NSA secrets to Russia that resulted in death to US spies and did considerable damage to US security. Robert Hanssen is an enigma. He is a family man, a staunch neoconservative Republican, an anti-Communist, a devout Catholic (Opus Dei) who opposed homosexuality and abortion. He would be the last person you would suspect of being a Russian spy. Although the FBI had clues, the FBI couldn’t accept the fact that one of their own could be a traitor so Hanssen avoided detection for 22 years. The book shows another side of Robert Hanssen as a man who patronized strip clubs and brothels and was a sugar daddy to a stripper. Hanssen was so sexually deviant that he shared nude photos of his wife with his friend and allowed his friend to secretly view him having sex with his wife. Despite Robert Hanssen’s moral shortcoming, the fact that he spied for Russia for 22 years is completely contrary to all that he politically and religiously espoused throughout his adult life. Nevertheless, Hanssen was able and willing to commit treason for money and the flattery that Russia heaped on him for being such a clever spy. Amazingly, Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America points out that during this time, Robert Hanssen was not the only Russian spy that had infiltrated US intelligence agencies. There was Aldrich Ames, John Anthony Walker, Ronald Pelton, Earl Pitts, etc. During the time that Hanssen was a mole for Russia, the frequency and number of Russian moles who infiltrated US intelligence agencies was astoundingly high. There seemed to be so many Russian moles that US intelligence was playing a never ending game of whack-a-mole. I don’t know if things have really changed at the FBI and CIA, but Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America highlighted problems within those agencies that contributed to Hanssen’s ability to spy for Russia for 22 years.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    I liked the novel. It did not blow me away, but David Wise did the best he could with the material. If you read fictional spy drama this might be a bit slow going, because a true depiction cannot be sensationalized and is not 'sexy'. I have come away with a greater appreciation for the intelligence community. You cannot fully trust anyone. That is a hard existence. Anyway, here are some quotes that I took away from it. "The government, in short, has a dual motive in often pressing for a plea b I liked the novel. It did not blow me away, but David Wise did the best he could with the material. If you read fictional spy drama this might be a bit slow going, because a true depiction cannot be sensationalized and is not 'sexy'. I have come away with a greater appreciation for the intelligence community. You cannot fully trust anyone. That is a hard existence. Anyway, here are some quotes that I took away from it. "The government, in short, has a dual motive in often pressing for a plea bargain in spy cases. In addition to learning from the spy exactly what damage has been done, it hopes to avoid the exposure of the secrets that the spy had passed. There is an odd mind-set at work here. The secrets have long been given to the country that paid for them, often, as in this case, the Soviet Union or Russia. Yet the American people are left in the dark. The intelligence agencies are horrified at the thought of the public learning secrets that are already known to the adversaries from whom the secrets were primarily designed to be concealed. The counterargument by intelligence officials is that other countries might benefit from the disclosure of the stolen secrets." Hanssen's friend Paul Moore summed up the stakes well. "The better you are, the more incentive for someone on to the other side to sell you out The problem is that once you're in the game, you're in the game for life, and you're betting your life all the time...The only way you can get away with it is to die before U.S. counterintelligence finds you, because they will look for you and the will eventually get to you, because what you're doing is really dumb. The more successful you are, the more valuable it is to the U.S. to find you, and the more salable you are to somebody on the other side. Bob was playing smart moves at a very dumb game and he did not get away with it. " Russian Proverb: Another man's soul is darkness.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ann Vallimaa

    Why did you spy on Ray and Mary all these years? All the movies and books. Was I some kind of target? I believe it was an Inheritance Scam. We recently had a lamp busted in our house. They knew about bloody wash cloths. They knew about cutting crosses. Read page. 208. Trash searched, underwear sniffed, toys destroyed. G's were there to keep me alive? They were watching for suicide. You know what, I started taking to them. You could probably make a documentary. You also know what else was recorde Why did you spy on Ray and Mary all these years? All the movies and books. Was I some kind of target? I believe it was an Inheritance Scam. We recently had a lamp busted in our house. They knew about bloody wash cloths. They knew about cutting crosses. Read page. 208. Trash searched, underwear sniffed, toys destroyed. G's were there to keep me alive? They were watching for suicide. You know what, I started taking to them. You could probably make a documentary. You also know what else was recorded. You chose to ignore certain actions. These people didn't get busted toes and fractured faces. pg.213 As summer turned to fall, Kelleys was having repeated problems with the telephones at his home. In October, a technician dispatched by the telephone company to investigate the trouble found a bug on the line. pg.217 it gave that information the code name Karat. * (Want a carrot peeler?) I thought that was your sex toy....seriously! *Chemistry *Potassium Cyanide Also note on page 259 about Rohypnol/Flunitrazepam.... (maybe how they take photographs )sleeping pill/*Tranquilizer.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emily Hewitt

    I started this book and then set it down for about a month and finally picked it back up again to finish it. I think I temporarily stopped reading it because I know how Robert Hanssen's story ends. I will say I thought this book was much better than the book on Robert Hanssen by David A. Vise. I felt like this book had more information and details that Vise's book did not have. Vise's book focused A LOT on Hanssen's sex life (and gave more details than readers probably needed to know)...Wise's b I started this book and then set it down for about a month and finally picked it back up again to finish it. I think I temporarily stopped reading it because I know how Robert Hanssen's story ends. I will say I thought this book was much better than the book on Robert Hanssen by David A. Vise. I felt like this book had more information and details that Vise's book did not have. Vise's book focused A LOT on Hanssen's sex life (and gave more details than readers probably needed to know)...Wise's book, however, discussed that topic but I also felt like the overall research was more thorough and the timeline of his spying was more clear.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie Cramer

    Intriguing story of an FBI agent who for twenty-two years spied for the Soviets (and then the Russians after the collapse of the USSR). The author was granted permission to speak to Hanssen's psychiatrist and therefore gained great insight into his reasoning and motivation. See also: THE SPY WHO STAYED IN THE COLD: THE SECRET LIFE OF FBI DOUBLE AGENT ROBERT HANSSEN by Adrian Havill, which came out the year before. Intriguing story of an FBI agent who for twenty-two years spied for the Soviets (and then the Russians after the collapse of the USSR). The author was granted permission to speak to Hanssen's psychiatrist and therefore gained great insight into his reasoning and motivation. See also: THE SPY WHO STAYED IN THE COLD: THE SECRET LIFE OF FBI DOUBLE AGENT ROBERT HANSSEN by Adrian Havill, which came out the year before.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Chumley

    Interesting Spy Story, But... David Wise takes us thru Robert Hanssen’s “inside story” as a Soviet spy. It’s definitely a fascinating 5-star read, but here’s why I rated it 4 stars: Who edited the book? I felt like I was reading a draft copy versus the final book. It jumps all over the place. Almost gave up because the writing, at times, aggravated me. Maybe my standards are too high?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Excellent book, well worth the effort & time to read. Although I read it long ago, (written in 2002), I still recall the details of Hanssen, and the fact he too went to the cult off shoot church of Opus Dei with whom his boss then, Louie Freeh (FBI director) was front row member. William Barr is said to be their attorney in the church. It's a well written book, which will keep you interested with each page tu rn. Excellent book, well worth the effort & time to read. Although I read it long ago, (written in 2002), I still recall the details of Hanssen, and the fact he too went to the cult off shoot church of Opus Dei with whom his boss then, Louie Freeh (FBI director) was front row member. William Barr is said to be their attorney in the church. It's a well written book, which will keep you interested with each page tu rn.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Frank Brennan

    An amazing story about how one mid-level FBI agent turned over a treasure of US secrets to the Soviet Union, then Russia. If you can, watch the movie Breach beforehand. Then the book. The movie takes all kinds of liberty with the real story. The book will fill in the blanks and give you a greater appreciation for how sick Robert Hanssen actually was (is).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hinton

    An insightful look into the career of one of the most damaging spies in our nation's history. What made Robert Hanssen spy for the Soviets, and how did he get away with it for so long? The author's detailed and well-researched account goes a long way towards answering these questions. If you're interested in espionage and the FBI, this book is well worth your time. An insightful look into the career of one of the most damaging spies in our nation's history. What made Robert Hanssen spy for the Soviets, and how did he get away with it for so long? The author's detailed and well-researched account goes a long way towards answering these questions. If you're interested in espionage and the FBI, this book is well worth your time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Banbury

    Just the facts, ma'am. The bare facts are all one gets from this book. Other than a hint of a critical father, there is no real analysis of, or even speculation about, the absolute weirdness of Bob Hanssen, and how those around him did not seem to notice or react to it. It might be useful as a narrative of the chronology of dead drops, but that is all. Just the facts, ma'am. The bare facts are all one gets from this book. Other than a hint of a critical father, there is no real analysis of, or even speculation about, the absolute weirdness of Bob Hanssen, and how those around him did not seem to notice or react to it. It might be useful as a narrative of the chronology of dead drops, but that is all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert Sparrenberger

    A lot of dark stuff going on in this one. Not only do you have a the spying foe the Russians, you get the weird sex stuff thrown in for good measure at the end. It’s well written and there are a lot of players involved with his arrest and people he betrayed. Recommend if you are into espionage kind of stuff.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary Kubit

    The spy who killed but lives Interesting read and documentation of a very damaging spy who indirectly caused the death of other counter intelligence agents in a betrayal of trust for very complex and difficult motivation factors.

  19. 4 out of 5

    RACHEL E PEACOCK

    Thorough, detailed, endlessly interesting If you want to know how and why spies betray their countries, read this book. Describes his spying and how he got away with it for over 20 years.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Sorry to say not very well written. But, fascinating story, very worthwhile read. Oh. And. Just horrible: the man, his actions, and the obliviousness of the FBI (which I'm not bashing; just noting). Still nothing compares to the Cherkashin book so far. Sorry to say not very well written. But, fascinating story, very worthwhile read. Oh. And. Just horrible: the man, his actions, and the obliviousness of the FBI (which I'm not bashing; just noting). Still nothing compares to the Cherkashin book so far.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stavros Kanakaris

    Interesting read, but somewhat incoherent. I would have been interested in the take of intelligence experts, former spies from both sides (interview format) or Bonnie's account included in the book. All in all commendable. Interesting read, but somewhat incoherent. I would have been interested in the take of intelligence experts, former spies from both sides (interview format) or Bonnie's account included in the book. All in all commendable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jean Weso

    An absolute page-turner about how FBI agent Robert Hanssen spied for Russia for twenty-two years in the “worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history”–and how he was finally brought to justice. Highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    Scary deviant let loose on an unsuspecting govt.--Ours!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Interesting subject, but the writing is fairly repetitive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve Paulson

    Could not put this down. What an interesting story. Really well written. Boy this guy was a brazen douche! Great book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I didnt love the writing style and the timeline jumped around a lot, but the story itself was fascinating.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    Well-researched, comprehensive, deeply impactful story about a man, an agency, and a series of missed opportunities.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Taoism

    I've read three biographies on Hansen in a row recently, and overall, this one is the best written and most detailed, along with the KGB one. A real Hansen on paper. I've read three biographies on Hansen in a row recently, and overall, this one is the best written and most detailed, along with the KGB one. A real Hansen on paper.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cwelshhans

    Very good and detailed.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This nonfiction book tells the story of Bob Hanssen, the FBI agent passed numerous secret documents to the Russians over a 20-year period. The author weaves together two chronologies: Bob Hanssen's life and career, and the decade-long search for moles in the CIA and the FBI. Bob Hanssen was an FBI agent with a special interest in computers, way back in the days when very few people understood these new tools. That specialized knowledge helped move him along in his career among the spy-catchers a This nonfiction book tells the story of Bob Hanssen, the FBI agent passed numerous secret documents to the Russians over a 20-year period. The author weaves together two chronologies: Bob Hanssen's life and career, and the decade-long search for moles in the CIA and the FBI. Bob Hanssen was an FBI agent with a special interest in computers, way back in the days when very few people understood these new tools. That specialized knowledge helped move him along in his career among the spy-catchers at the FBI. He established contact with the Russians and worked out an elaborate system of communications and drop-offs and pick-ups of documents and money. He betrayed several Russian spies, who were subsequently recalled to Moskow and executed, passed documents about Reagan's Star Wars, revealed the plans for an eavesdropping tunnel under the Soviet Embassy etc. No one suspected him because he led a life of outward moral rectitude as a staunch, even dogmatic Catholic. The FBI and CIA knew that Aldrich Ames (the famous CIA spy) was not the only mole - some events indicated that the Soviets had knowledge that could not have been provided by Ames. Who was the second man? They created a task force that spent years combing through documents, logs, reports, debriefings. They focused on an innocent man for a year or two, and then they heard that a former KGB agent (the USSR had collapsed by now) had stolen the file on the mole from the KGB archives and was willing to sell it! The file even contained a tape recording of Hanssen's voice, as well as letters that he had sent to his KGB control. It took only days to identify Hanssen, who was arrested soon after. If you like spy novels, this real-life story is even better !

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