Cover image for Spytime : the undoing of James Jesus Angleton : a novel
Spytime : the undoing of James Jesus Angleton : a novel
Buckley, William F., Jr., 1925-2008.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 305 ; 24 cm
Format :


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James Jesus Angleton was the master-a legend in the time of spies. Founder of U.S. counterintelligence at the end of the second World War, and ruthless hunter of moles and enemies of America, his name is synonymous with skullduggery and intellectual subterfuge. Now bestselling author William F. Buckley Jr. presents a subtle and thrilling fictional account of the spymaster's life. From his early involvement in the World War II underground to the waning days of the Cold War in Washington, D.C., Angleton pursued his enemies, real and imagined, with a cool, calculating intelligence, and an unwillingness to take anything at face value. Convinced that there was a turncoat within the CIA itself, he confused his enemy through misleading acts and deceptive feints to distort his real objective-to capture and expose a traitor. The result was near-victory for American Intelligence-and defeat for himself. A brilliant re-creation of his world, which included the CIA, Soviet defectors, the infamous traitors Burgess, MacLean, and Philby, and American presidents from Truman to Carter, Spytime traces the making-and tragic unmaking-of a man without peer, and at the end, a man without a country to serve.

Author Notes

Editor and writer William F. Buckley, Jr. was born in New York City on November 24, 1925. While at Yale University, he studied political science, history and economics and graduated with honors. In 1955, he founded the weekly journal National Review where he was editor in chief. He began his syndicated newspaper column in 1962 and his weekly television discussion program, Firing Line was syndicated in 1966.

Buckley wrote "God and Man at Yale" (1951) which was an indictment of liberal education in the United States, "Up from Liberalism" (1959), "The Unmaking of a Mayor" (1966), which tells of his unsuccessful mayoral campaign as the Conservative Party candidate for New York City in 1965, and "Quotations from Chairman Bill" (1970).

Buckley also wrote best selling stories of international intrigue whose titles include "Saving the Queen" (1976), "Stained Glass" (1978), "Who's on First" (1980), "Marco Polo, If You Can" (1981), and "See You Later, Alligator" (1985). He died on February 27, 2008.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Like his best-selling Blackford Oakes series, Buckley's thirteenth novel is a spy story set (mostly) in the mid-1960s, during the cold war. It's a fictionalized account of the life of James Jesus Angleton, the Yale graduate recruited by the U.S. government and sent to Italy as a spy during World II. After the war, Angleton was appointed chief of counterintelligence, responsible for--among other things--ferreting out spies in the U.S. government. Later, his relentless (some said obsessive) search for a double agent in the CIA almost destroyed his own life. Unlike Buckley's previous novel, Redhunter (about Senator Joe McCarthy), this one is a little dry--fact-filled, insightful, thought-provoking, but not as well crafted or as lively as the best of Buckley's fiction. Readers familiar with Buckley's politics will find much to enjoy here, and the author's obvious expertise in the area of spy tradecraft will be appreciated by genre addicts, but those looking for a fully formed novel may be a tad disappointed. Angleton never really comes alive, despite his admittedly fascinating life. The historical details--about Kim Philby, David Ben-Gurion, and others--are juicy, to be sure, but they never coalesce into a first-rate thriller. A solid effort but only that. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

For the second time in little more than a year (following 1999's The Redhunter: A Novel Based on the Life of Senator Joe McCarthy), Buckley offers up a fictional account of an icon in America's war against communism. This time, he focuses on James Jesus Angleton, the head of counterintelligence at the CIA for 20 years. Buckley traces Angleton's career from 1945, when the young Yale graduate was handpicked by Allen Dulles, director of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services in Europe, to work undercover in the Italian resistance, to his firing in 1974, when he was scapegoated for many of the CIA's moral and ethical lapses. Over those 30 years Angleton earned a reputation as a brilliant tactician, capable of discerning the most subtle of hidden motives in the international game of espionage. Yet he was also a man of such obsessive anti-communist fervor that at times it clouded his thinking, providing his enemies with ammunition for their attacks. While Buckley's perspective on Angleton's public and private life is perceptiveÄthe worldly operative's mother was Mexican, and he grew up in Italy and EnglandÄthe book suffers from glaring gaps in the master spy's biography. The late 1940s and early 1950s, for example, years when Angleton was laying the foundation for his career, are completely skipped over. Buckley also inexplicably derails an otherwise compelling story by cutting away for nearly a quarter of the book to follow one of Angleton's prodigies in action on low-level work in Lebanon in the early 1960s. In general, Buckley's protagonist never manifests the mysterious fascination he radiates in Aaron Latham's Orchids for Mother (1977). 75,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; 3-city author tour. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Angleton is, of course, a real person--the founder of U.S. counterintelligence after World War II--but Buckley puts him in a novel and follows his rise and fall as he obsessively hunts out moles during the Cold War. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.