THE SPY WHO STAYED OUT IN THE COLD: The Secret Life of FBI Agent Robert Hanssen
FBI agent Robert Hanssen began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985. By the time he was arrested in February 2001, he'd received over $600,000 payment in cash and diamonds and turned over hundreds of pages of top secret documents. In the process, says Havill, Hanssen did as much damage to U.S. national security as "anyone since the Rosenbergs." But why did he do it? And how? Havill, a journalist and true-crime writer (While Innocents Slept), devotes most of his book to these two questions. Hanssen, Havill reports, had been fascinated by the romance of international espionage from an early age. When he was 14, he became obsessed with the memoir of a notorious British double agent; his favorite film was From Russia with Love. But after a decade of FBI service, Hanssen found himself unsatisfied, underappreciated and underpaid. And so, using the code name Ramon, Hanssen turned over his first packet of secret files to the KGB. Havill's chronicle of the Hanssen-KGB relationship reads like a John le Carré novel, full of codes and secret signals. The notes between Hanssen and his Russian handers, excerpted extensively by Havill, are the most fascinating parts of the book. Frustratingly, Havill is unable to provide any details concerning the contents of the documents Hanssen turned over—this is, of course, an unavoidable flaw in any book dealing with espionage and national secrets. Despite this, Havill's book remains an intriguing, unsettling portrait of a man whose poor finances and personal frustration drove him to betray his country.(Oct.)
Forecast:Given the notoriety of this case, the book should receive reviews and media attention and generous sales.
Release date: 10/01/2001