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Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Defection of A J Lewinter by Robert Littell

Winner of the 1973 Gold Dagger Award

A J Lewinter wants to defect from the USA to Russia. He has become disenchanted with his life in the US, and he believes his job has provided him with information the Russians will want about tracking missiles inside of ceramic nosecones on warheads. It's not so much that Lewinter wants to betray his country. He just wants to give the Russians an even chance of defending themselves against American aggression because he thinks it's more fair that way.

Lewinter has another reason for defecting. He has developed his own plan for worldwide recycling. The United States has not expressed any interest in implementing his plan. He hopes the Russians might feel differently.

While in Russia at a business conference, Lewinter walks into the Russian Embassy and announces his wish to defect. He convinces the person in charge that he has legitimate information the Russians can use. On the basis of this, Lewinter is taken to Russia for further evaluation.

Thus begins a story of espionage and intrigue. At times the story is downright hilarious... there is one particular passage with an explanation that defies Vizzini's logic. At the same time, the story is deadly serious because there's a lot of truth to be found in this tale. That makes it frightening.

I have always believed that espionage is nothing more than adult men's attempt to keep on playing the game of childhood Cowboys and Indians. This book confirms my belief in that theory. Only in the adult game of C & I we learned to call Espionage, there are dire consequences for those who knowingly participate and those who get enlisted whether they want to be or not.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the scripts played out during the Cold War, and the kinds of men this time of history not only produced but encouraged.

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