The Mole: The Cold War Memoir of Winston Bates

Peter Warner. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-25003-4793
This lightweight, clever second novel from Warner (Lifestyle) adopts the form of memoir to tell the story of modest, unassuming Winston Bates in his unlikely career as a Canadian spy in Washington, D.C., from the 1950s to the 1980s. Bates doesn’t feel too guilty about the job; his handler assures him that he’s not really spying because “the Americans are our friends, right?” Zelig-like, he encounters a who’s who of Washington society (Roy Cohn, Walter Lippmann, and many others) in a story that seemingly encompasses every major post-WWII foreign policy and political event, including the Suez Crisis, Sputnik, the Bay of Pigs, and Wa­tergate. The result is a satirical perspective on American political life that unsurprisingly concludes that personal gain generally trumps the common good. But some readers may find the farcical conceit too large a leap of faith and wish that more comedy could have been wrung from the premise. A necessarily episodic narrative (with some clumsy flashbacks) diminishes the book’s momentum. None­theless, Warner’s prose is first-rate, and his research is prodigious, which adds credibility (14 archival photographs help). Agent: Will Lippincott, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Oct. 22)
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 10/22/2013
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-250-03480-9
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