cover image Family of Spies

Family of Spies

Pete Earley. Bantam Books, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-05283-1

Based on family papers, wiretapped conversations, trial transcripts and interviews with the principals, this is the most comprehensive look we are likely to get at the inception and operation of what has been called the most damaging spy ring in America's history. The book is riveting on several levels: John Walker's uncanny ability to talk three people into betraying their country (his brother Arthur, son Michael and best friend Jerry Whitworth, all of whom, along with ringleader Walker, are now serving life sentences); the appalling ease with which top-secret documents were copied and passed along to the Soviets over a period of 17 years; Whitworth's withdrawal from the organization, his abortive attempt to blow the whistle and his subsequent effort to rejoin it; Barbara Walker's struggle to convince the FBI to believe her charges against her ex-husband; and John Walker's grotesque rationalizations and self-justification in his interviews with Earley. The Washington Post Magazine reporter has constructed a masterful psychological portrait of a man seemingly without a soul. A Family of Spies is a classic of the genre. Photos. First serial to the Washington Post; CBS-TV miniseries. (Nov.)