Comrade J

Sergei Tretyakov, the Comrade J of this fascinating book's title, was Russia's top spy in America from 1995 to 2000. During his more than 120 hours speaking with author Peter Earley, the New York-based Tretyakov describes exactly how Russian intelligence (the SVR) successfully recruited intelligence sources inside the UN and the US, and used this intelligence to undermine American interests. Tretyakov, for example, tells Earley exactly how the SVR infiltrated the UN's Oil-for-Food program, created to help the Iraqi people, and stole half a billion dollars from it, money that went directly to Russia's ruling oligarchy. Tretyakov also recruited UN diplomats from Germany, Turkey, and Sweden to garner secret intelligence that helped damage American interests. Tretyakov ultimately grew disillusioned serving Russia's corrupt, money-grubbing leadership. He felt his work no longer served the Russian people, but only undemocratic strongmen like Presidents Yeltsin and Putin: "it became immoral to serve them, and I didn't want to be associated with them." In 2000, Tretyakov defected to the US, offering thousands of secret Russian documents and the identities of hundreds of previously-unknown Russian intelligence sources. Comrade J's primary message is that Russia is not America's friend, and "is doing everything it can today to undermine and embarrass the US." Earley's gripping narrative may be the most absorbing, detailed account ever written about foreign intelligence activities within the US; Comrade J also offers a stunning indictment of the present "thuggish" Russian regime under President Vladimir Putin. -

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.