Excerpt from An Ordinary Spy by Joseph Weisberg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

An Ordinary Spy

A Novel

by Joseph Weisberg

An Ordinary Spy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Dec 2007, 288 pages
    Jan 2009, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Over the next few days, I’d grab an armful of files in the morning, read them, take them back to the file cabinets, and get another batch for the afternoon. I really could have just scanned them to get the information I needed, but as I said, I liked reading them, and nobody particularly cared, or even noticed, how much time I was taking with the assignment.

Like all CIA employees in the Directorate of Operations (DO), I had a Top Secret clearance, which meant that I was cleared to see almost anything. Certain types of information required a special         clearance —                                                                                . But if you were working on something where that clearance was required, your boss signed a slip, you handed it in to Security, and a day later you had the clearance. It wasn’t really a big deal.

There was the idea of "need to know," which meant that you shouldn’t see, hear, or read about anything you didn’t need to know about in order to do your job. But this was largely ignored. If you were sitting with a friend from a different division at lunch, you’d tell each other about the cases you were working on. You might not do it at a table of five people, but if your boss knew you were talking to other officers about your cases, he almost certainly wouldn’t care. He did it, too. The environment was surprisingly open within the Directorate. And in a sense, learning about a wide variety of cases would help you understand your job better, so you could even make an argument that you "sort of needed to know."

In any case, I had no real need to know about the details of these cases I was reading. But I was cleared for them, and they were within my division, and even my office, so I didn’t hide the fact that I was reading them much more carefully than I needed to.

Each of the files contained the cable traffic                                                                                                                               . In a lot of the cases, it was determined after a few encounters that the target wasn’t susceptible to recruitment, or didn’t have access to useful, classified information. These were the thin files. In other cases, there were multiple meetings, and a relationship developed that often produced some intelligence, but the case never turned into a full- blown recruitment. These files were a little bit thicker. Finally, in some cases, an agent was recruited and either run for a period of time or was still being run. These files could be anywhere from       to             pages, depending, presumably, on the Chief of Station (COS) and his attitude about Headquarters. Some COSs saw Headquarters as troublesome, bureaucratic, and meddlesome, and felt that only the broad outlines of a case should be reported. Others obviously encouraged their case officers (C/Os) to write in great detail about every aspect of a case, either because it forced the C/Os to be clear and rigorous in their thinking, or as a cover-your-ass maneuver in case something went wrong.

Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.