Spy Vs. Spy

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

SPY VS. SPY has two important points to make about the difficulty of apprehending spies and traitors within the United States. First, the national commitment to be an open society with well-defined rights of individual privacy makes the job of an FBI counterintelligence officer a difficult one. Mere suspicion of an unlawful act is seldom considered sufficient cause to obtain the necessary legal authority to undertake an investigation, and all too often “suspicion” is all an agent has to work with in terms of evidence.

The second point is that those espionage cases brought to trial seldom involve radical left-wing groups or highly trained foreign nationals masquerading as American citizens but rather greedy individuals who profit from lax security practices. Thus, the Bureau often finds itself hampered by corporate and governmental systems. Moreover, intra-departmental feuds and interdepartmental struggles play a significant role in the failure to apprehend those who would betray their country.

If the material presented in this work had appeared in ROLLING STONE magazine, it is possible that speeches denouncing its publication would have appeared in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD. SPY VS. SPY is in some ways a virtual “how-to” manual for the aspiring traitor in what not to do when contemplating treason. Despite the fascination of such information, SPY VS. SPY has several problems. Kessler’s organizational style is somewhat trying; he relates several stories at once and sometimes shifts too quickly from episode to episode. Occasionally, his point becomes lost as the reader tries to keep us with his train of thought. Nevertheless, SPY VS. SPY is an interesting, alarming, and informative work which proposes some fundamental changes in the manner in which the United States government preserves its military secrets. One would hope that those responsible take notice.