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

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An Ordinary Spy

A Novel

by Joseph Weisberg

An Ordinary Spy
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2007, 288 pages
    Jan 2009, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

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Print Excerpt

"Probably all got kicked into           at that point," William said. "Or maybe turned over to    , I can’t remember."

"Why would it go into                    ?"

"Sometimes when things start going south they move it into                    ."

I nodded.

"Seegram . . . what did you say his true name was, Goldstein? He wrote a good cable. I got really caught up in the story."

"Bobby was a fine young man," William said. "One of my favorites. You remind me of him quite a bit."

"How so?" I asked.

"Very bright. Good sense of humor, which you don’t see enough of around here. People thought he was going to do great things. Jewish kid, too."

"Huh," I said, nodding to indicate that William’s foray into my ethnicity was perfectly all right with me.

"He was a good kid."

"He still around?"

"No, no. I think he’s up in New England somewhere now."

I looked at the blank gray wall of the cubicle for a few seconds. Then I turned back to William. "So what happened?"

William rested his chin in his hand and thought for a few seconds.

"I don’t think you want to know that story. Not when you’re heading out on your first assignment. Come see me in a few years, I’ll tell you about it. That and his other one. LXMALIBU. All we talked about around here for a while."

This was obviously the final word.

Later, when William was out of the office, I looked through the cabinets for an LXMALIBU file. But there was nothing there.

For several days, I couldn’t stop thinking about TDTRACER. It was horrible—an agent had gone missing and was possibly being "interrogated" by his home country’s intel service. Terrible as it was, though, there was no denying that it was the closest thing I’d seen yet to what I’d expected to find when I came to the Agency.


On one of my last weekends, I went up to Boston College to see Professor Wolfgang Lang. Lang was a renowned political scientist and had more or less shaped my worldview over the course of five classes I’d taken with him during college. He had also been the only professor I ever had any kind of a personal relationship with. I’d spent many Saturday nights during my junior and senior years at his apartment, where he hosted a kind of salon for students, professors, and visiting government ministers and intellectuals from all over the world.

Lang was also, in a roundabout way, the reason I was at the CIA. Four or five years after I’d graduated from college, I was working at a small think tank in D.C. that specialized in U.S.- Russian relations. Lang had come through town for a conference, and we’d had lunch. When I told him I was getting bored at the think tank, he suggested I try intelligence work. I’d certainly thought of this before, but somehow the idea had never seemed serious until Lang said it. I told him I was definitely interested. I’d actually thought at the time that he was recruiting me, and I spent months after that waiting for the phone to ring. When it didn’t, I sent in a résumé to the CIA.

Three years had passed since then. Getting into the Agency had taken a year and a half—an endless series of tests, interviews, psychological evaluations, a polygraph, a security check where officers posing as                                   interviewed my friends, relatives, and former employers. Then another year and a half of training, split between Headquarters and the Farm.

Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.

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