Alec Chambers' review of Adams' Sellout; Maas' Killer Spy; Weiner, Johnston, and Lewis' Betrayal; and Wise's Nightmover and a separate review of Earley's Confessions of a Spy can be read at "First four books on Ames case" and "Earley's book on Ames case," respectively.
Hayden Peake has published two consolidated reviews that include Earley's book: "A Mole in Residence," CIRA Newsletter 22, no. 2 (Summer 1997): 6-12; and "A Sign on the Roof: The Case of Aldrich Ames," American Intelligence Journal 17, no. 3/4: 90-94. The quotations included here come from the Newsletter version.
Also see the consolidated reviews by (1) Marie Arana-Ward, "The Man Who Sold the Secrets," Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 19-25 Jun. 1995, 35-36; (2) Joseph E. Evans, "The Ames Case: Various Versions," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 9, no. 3 (Fall 1996): 358-361; and (3) Thomas Powers, "No Laughing Matter," New York Review of Books (10 Aug. 1995) and Chapter 21 in Intelligence Wars (2004), 321-332.
Adams, James. Sellout: Aldrich Ames and the Corruption of the CIA. New York: Viking, 1995.
Surveillant 4.1 comments that "[w]hile this 3-month journalistic rush-job is far from complete, it is a useful look at the investigation ... and does have merit.... Adams examines the intelligence community to explain why such an underperforming intelligence officer would be protected despite abysmal tradecraft.... Of special note ... are [Adams'] two long interviews with William Webster and Robert Gates, with Gates providing exceptionally sound analysis and suggestions."
According to Warren, WIR 14.1, what he gained in getting the first book out on the Aldrich Ames spy case, "Adams sacrified in quality.... It reads like a series of three-by-five research cards strung together." The book's "details are generally accurate," but there are factual errors. For example, Ames "was not ... 'former chief of Counter intelligence Division in the CIA' (pp. 9-10)." Sellout is "a flawed work that adds little to the public's knowledge." Peake, CIRA Newsletter 22.2, also comments on the negative effect that the rush to publish had on this book. More broadly, however, Adams "doesn't appreciate ... that organizational fixes do not solve operational problems."
Arana-Ward, WPNWE (19-25 Jun. 1995), says that "Adams writes clearly,... [b]ut 'Sellout' has troubling inaccuracies." These include mistakes that Maas, Weiner, and Wise get right. Adams does not mention Jeanne Vertefeuille at all. Doyle, Periscope (Jun. 1995), also finds "a few errors or ambiguities... But his errors really don't detract from the fact that this is a good compilation of mostly open source material of interest to outsiders." Powers, NYRB (10 Aug. 1995) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 321-332, refers to Adams work as "a serviceable summary."
Cherkashin, Victor, with Gregory Feifer. Spy Handler -- Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen & Aldrich Ames. New York: Basic Books, 2004.
Clark comment: The subtitle of this book is (as often happens with subtitles) misleading at best. Cherkashin did not literally "recruit" Ames and Hanssen; they dropped themselves into his lap.
Troy, CIRA Newsletter 30.1 (Spring 2005), says that the author "has written an entertaining book" about "his (relatively brief) involvement with Ames and Hanssen and much more about his career" that spanned 39 years with the KGB. The book is "enjoyable and easy to read." For Bath, NIPQ 21.2 (Jun. 2005), this work "is more than the record of a skilled intelligence officer, it also offers a rare picture of the case officer's day-to-day activities and challenges."
To Usdin, I&NS 21.6 (Dec. 2006), the author "provides little new information about Ames, Hanssen or Pelton." In fact, he "reveals far more about the KGB than about the CIA, FBI or NSA." Ehrman, Studies 49.3 (2005), comments that the author "not only tells a fascinating story but also provides numerous insights -- some of them probably unintended -- into the world of the KGB that make this a rewarding book for specialists and general readers alike." Cherkashin does not "seem bothered by the character of the post-Stalin system he served or of the service in which he worked."
Epstein, Wall Street Journal (30 Dec. 2004), uses the publication of Cherkashin's book to argue that the arrests of Ames and Hanssen prove that "Angleton was right." Cherkashin's story "provides a gripping account of [the KGB's] successes in the spy war.... That America's counterespionage apparatus allowed both [Ames and Hanssen] to operate as long as they did is a testament to its complacency as much as to the KGB's cleverness."
Earley, Pete. Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames. New York: Putnam's, 1997.
According to Lehmann-Haupt, NYT (24 Feb. 1997), Earley's account presents Ames as highly competent, trusted, and clever; however, "this interpretation doesn't fit the facts as he relates them." Additionally, this account "does not substantially improve" on the picture that emerged from the four previous books on Ames. What is new here is that Earley has interspersed his third-person narrative with comments from Ames himself. Unfortunately, "these don't shed very much light on the case.... Ames ... stands revealed as an example of a quintessential 20th-century figure, the self-analytical man who doesn't understand himself at all."
Kurkjian, Boston Globe (27 Feb. 1997), sees the book differently. In his view, none of the earlier books on Ames "captures the story -- its drama, its consequences in human and diplomatic terms, and the troubling questions it presents about CIA operations -- the way Pete Earley's does.... Not only does he present the scope of Ames's double-dealing,... he also reveals the psychology of the man who would betray his country, his colleagues, and the Soviet agents.... Earley treads the thin line of providing some understanding of Ames without sympathizing with him."
Peake, CIRA Newsletter 22.2, finds that the book "is well written and covers the case more thoroughly than its competition.... Given the choice of one of the five books, Confessions of a Spy must be the one." Chambers notes that Earley "looks at both sides of the case, Ames and the KGB on one side, and the CIA on the other.... [He] has written a highly readable book that fills in some of the gaps in the story of Ames."
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