The Sisters

The Sisters

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

On the heels of Littell's 2002 bestseller The Company comes this reissue of a gripping spy thriller originally published in 1986. It is the height of the Cold War, not long after the Cuban missile crisis. Francis and Carroll, dubbed "the sisters Death and Night" by their associates, are two odd yet powerful veteran CIA operatives with vague responsibilities ("If you mentioned the Sisters in an interoffice memo, almost everyone tucked away in the Company's cradle-to-grave complex knew who you were talking about. But only a handful with `eyes-only' authorizations in their dossiers had an inkling of what they actually did for a living"). In one of their clandestine brainstorming sessions, the Sisters devise a plot to commit what they consider to be "the perfect crime," although the motives for this crime are largely unclear. They set their plot in motion by deftly manipulating the "Potter," the former head of the Russian KGB's espionage school, into revealing the identity of his most talented student, the "Sleeper," a spy still hiding in the United States awaiting KGB orders. Armed with his identity, the Sisters covertly send the Sleeper on a treacherous and near impossible assignment in the U.S. The Potter, wishing to atone for his betrayal, escapes from the Sisters' clutches and embarks on a cross-continent trek to save his protege from committing a crime that could change the future of the world. On his journey, the Potter is joined by Kaat, a mortuary hair stylist and the Sleeper's ex-lover. The unlikely pair blindly race across the country after the Sleeper, while desperately trying to evade those who would kill them to protect his mission. Littell brilliantly weaves quirky characters and puzzle-piece vignettes into an intricate, bizarre and highly entertaining tale.
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The Company

The Company

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

With a sharp eye for the pathos and absurdity of the Cold War, Robert Littell crafted his first novel, the now legendary spy thriller The Defection of A.J. Lewinter. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of The New York Times called it "a perfect little gem, the best Cold War thriller I've read in years," and the praise kept coming with critics hailing Littell as "the American Le Carr&eacute" (New York Times) and raving that his books were "as good as thriller writing gets" (The Washington Post). For his fourteenth novel, Robert Littell creates an engrossing, multigenerational, wickedly nostalgic yet utterly candid saga, bringing to life through a host of characters-historical and imagined-the over 40 years of the CIA-"the Company" to insiders. At the heart of the novel is a stunningly conceived mole hunt involving such rivals and allies as the MI6, KGB, and Mossad. Racing across a canvas that spans the legendary Berlin Base in the 1950s-the front line of the simmering Cold War-to the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Bay of Pigs, the Afghan war, the Gorbachev putsch, and other major theatres of operation for the CIA, The Company tells a thrilling story of agents imprisoned in double lives, fighting an enemy that was amoral, elusive, formidable. Littell tells it like it was: CIA agents, fighting not only the good fight, but sometimes the bad one as well. Littell also brilliantly lays bare the warring within the Company to add another dimension to the spy vs. spy game: the battles between the counterintelligence agents in Washington, like the utterly obsessive real-life mole hunter James Angleton, and the covert action boys in the field, like The Company's Harvey Torriti-the Sorcerer-a brilliant and brash rule breaker and dirty tricks expert who fights fire with fire, and his Apprentice, Jack McAuliffe, recruited fresh out of Yale, who learns tradecraft and the hard truths of life in the field. As this dazzling anatomy of the CIA unfolds, nothing less than the world's future in the second half of the twentieth century is at stake. At once a celebration of a long Cold War well fought, an elegy for the end of an era, and a reckoning for a profession in which moral ambiguity created a wilderness of mirrors, The Company is the Cold War's devastating truth, its entertaining tale, its last word. Amazon.com ReviewPenzler Pick, March 2002: Robert Littell, long known as one of the best writers of fiction about the Cold War, is not as well known as John le Carré or the great Charles McCarry, but nevertheless has a devoted following among serious aficionados of the literary spy novel. His latest book, which runs close to 900 pages and covers the years 1950 to 1995, is an ambitious one that is destined to become the definitive novel about the CIA. The historical events of that crucial period are well known to most of us. The end of World War II and the division of Germany into sectors by the Allies laid the groundwork for the Cold War and the rise of the OSS, a wartime branch of the American government, into one of the most powerful tools of intelligence.The involvement of that agency in the defection of Burgess and MacLean from Britain to the Soviet Union; the Suez Canal crisis, which ended Britain's role as a superpower; the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis; the arming of rebels in Afghanistan to repel the encroaching Soviet forces; the Gulf War--all are well documented here.All these events, which had such major consequences for our own history and that of the world, were well known to, organized by, or played out with the full cooperation of the CIA. These, as well as such minor events as defections on both sides, are the backdrop to this novel which stars a large cast of characters who we get to know as young men and women recruited while still in college. Their personal and public lives are followed as they rise through the ranks of the Company, and we know that one of them is a mole. We don't know who it is any more than the CIA does, and it will take years to unmask the traitor.In the meantime, we have become involved not only with Littell's fictional characters, but also with some of the real people who inhabited that world: William F. Buckley Jr., G. Gordon Liddy, William Casey--and we are privy to conversations in both the Kennedy and Reagan Oval Offices.We also know by the end of this exciting story that the fight is not always the good fight. Compromises are made, mistakes happen, and pragmatism wins out over idealism. We do not live in a perfect world, but it's the only one we have and it is that way because of the events in this book. Don't let its size deter you. This is nothing less than a stunning historical document. --Otto PenzlerFrom Publishers WeeklyThis impressive doorstopper of a book is like a family historical saga, except that the family is the American intelligence community. It has all the appropriate characters and tracks them over 40 years: a rogue uncle, the Sorcerer, a heavy-drinking chief of the Berlin office in the early Cold War days; a dashing hero, Jack McAuliffe, who ages gracefully and never loses his edge; a dastardly turncoat, who for the sake of the reader will not be identified here, but who dies nobly; a dark genius, the real-life James Jesus Angleton, who after the disclosure that an old buddy, British spy Kim Philby, had been a Russian agent all along, became a model of paranoia; a Russian exchange student who starts out with our heroes at Yale but then works for "the other side"; and endless assorted ladyfolk, wives, girlfriends and gutsy daughters who are not portrayed with anything like the gritty relish of the men. Littell, an old hand at the genre (he wrote the classic The Defection of A.J. Lewinter) keeps it all moving well, and there are convincing set pieces: the fall of Budapest, the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba and an eerily prescient episode in Afghanistan, in which a character obviously modeled on Osama bin Laden appears, accompanied by a sidekick whose duty is to slay him instantly if his capture by the West seems imminent. It's gung-ho, hard-drinking, table-turning fun, even if a little old-fashioned now that we have so many other problems to worry about than the Russians but it brings back vividly a time when they seemed a real threat. There are some breathtaking real-life moments with the Kennedy brothers, and with a bumbling Reagan, and with Vladimir Putin, now the leader of Russia, who is here given a background that is extremely shady. (Apr.)Forecast: The Afghanistan element will lend itself to handselling, but that will be only icing on the cake of Overlook's full-tilt publicity campaign, which will include national ad/promo, a TV/radio satellite tour and an author tour. Along with Littell's reputation among critics and spy-lit cognescenti, it should all add up to a breakout book with serious bestseller potential. And Overlook's planned reprinting in hardcover of all of Littell's work, beginning with The Defection of A.J. Lewinter, should keep Littell's name in readers' minds for years to come. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Legends

Legends

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

Robert Littell is the undisputed master of American spy fiction, hailed for his profound grasp of the world of international espionage. His previous novel, The Company, an international bestseller, was praised as "one of the best spy novels ever written" (Chicago Tribune). For his new novel, Legends, Littell focuses on the life of one great agent caught in a "wilderness of mirrors" where both remembering and forgetting his past are deadly options.Martin Odum is a CIA field agent turned private detective, struggling his way through a labyrinth of past identities - "legends" in CIA parlance. Is he really Martin Odum? Or is he Dante Pippen, an IRA explosives maven? Or Lincoln Dittmann, Civil War expert? These men like different foods, speak different languages, have different skills. Is he suffering from multiple personality disorder, brainwashing, or simply exhaustion? Can Odum trust the CIA psychiatrist? Or Stella Kastner, a young Russian woman who...
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The Debriefing

The Debriefing

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USAReview“ Elegant . . . works like a clock with three sticks of dynamite attached to it.” —The New York Times “ The Debriefing is beautifully plotted . . . with a clever, ironic twist at the end . . . Littell’s craftsmanship shines through.”—Chicago TribuneAbout the AuthorRobert Littell was born, raised, and educated in New York. A former Newsweek editor specializing in Soviet affairs, he left journalism in 1970 to write fiction full time. Connoisseurs of the spy novel have elevated Robert Littell to the genre's highest ranks, and Tom Clancy wrote that “if Robert Littell didn’t invent the spy novel, he should have.” He is the author of fifteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Company and Legends, the 2005 L.A. Times Book Award for Best Thriller/Mystery. He currently lives in France.
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The Stalin Epigram

The Stalin Epigram

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

Moscow, 1934. As thousands of peasant famers starve under Stalin's regime of collectivisation, Osip Mandelstam, perhaps the greatest Russian poet of the twentieth century, defies the Kremlin with a few short, audacious lines of verse - a searing indictment of Stalin secretly recited to a handful of friends and fellow artists. When a transcript of the work falls into the hands of the secret police, the poet is taken from his home to Lubyanka prison under accusations of counter-revolutionary activities that carry the highest penalty, and his fate - as well as the fates of those close to him - is cast into bleak uncertainty. A fictional portrait based on a riveting historical episode, The Stalin Epigram is narrated in turn by Mandelstam himself, his devoted wife and his great friends, the poets Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova, amongst other vividly imagined characters. A gripping and memorable achievement of rigorous research and extraordinary empathy, bestselling author Robert...
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The October Circle

The October Circle

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

An explosive story of friendship and sacrifice in the depths of the Cold War era Connoisseurs of the literary spy thriller rank Robert Littell, the bestselling author of The Company, with John le Carré, Graham Greene, and Alan Furst in the first tier of the genre's pantheon. Set against the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Prague, The October Circle is one of Littell's most riveting early works. Seven of Bulgaria's cultural elite-all disillusioned communists-and one American drifter find themselves staging an extremely dangerous protest that will set off a wave of repression and threatens to repay their heroism with death.**
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The Mayakovsky Tapes

The Mayakovsky Tapes

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow's deluxe Hotel Metropol. They have gathered to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure.The ladies, each of whom could claim to have been a muse to the poet, loved or loathed Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their conflicting memories of him, a portrait of the artist as a young idealist emerges. From his early years as a leader of the Futurist movement, to his work as a propagandist for the Revolution, and on to the censorship battles that turned him against the state (and, more ominously, the state against him), their recollections reveal Mayakovsky as a passionate, complex, sexually obsessed creature trapped in the epicenter of history, struggling to hold onto his ideals in the face of a revolution betrayed.Written by Robert Littell, whom The...
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Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle

Robert Littell

Literature & Fiction / Mystery & Thrillers

An Israeli government minister is assassinated in the home of his mistress. Days later, Elihu, an aging and decorated Mossad officer, leads his final raid, killing a Hamas leader in his bed and barely escaping with his life.Out of this familiarly cyclical scenario emerges what is perhaps Robert Littell s most heartfelt and suspenseful novel. The action moves forward into the near future, when the global community, united under the leadership of a visionary woman president of the United States, brokers a major compromise between Israel and the Palestinian authority in the hopes of snuffing out the violent flash-point that fuels the flames of global terrorism.But then, Isaac Apflbaum, a well-known fundamentalist Rabbi, is taken hostage by Dr. al-Saath, a legendary Palestinian terrorist, who demands the release of several Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his prisoner. As Israel coaxes Elihu out of retirement to hunt down the terrorist who motivated his final mission,...
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