The Spy's Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia
Author: Bryan Denson
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
Denson brings a snappy writing style (if sometimes bogged down by clunky metaphors) to this story of a disgraced CIA officer (found out to be feeding Russia information) and his youngest son (who he manipulated into passing further information).
The book starts with son Nathaniel's final meeting with a Russian operative in Cyprus, then jogs back in time to tell the story of how his father, Harold James (Jim) Nicholson came to work for the CIA. Denson is at his best recounting Jim's career trajectory and the general geopolitics of the time. Though the telling can feel a little flat at times, that is only because Jim was not driven by ideology but by greed, making the story not one of grand risks, but of petty ones.
The chapters covering Jim's discovery, arrest, and eventual imprisonment are quite good. At the time of his father's arrest, Nathaniel was only 12 and idolized him. Over the following years, Jim took advantage of that hero worship and enlisted Nathaniel to get in touch with the Russians, explaining that they kept a sort of pension for their informants and that it wasn't illegal, just something to help the family.
The story ends much as you might expect, with Nathaniel caught and Jim punished further. It is a bit depressing, not least due to the naivete of the son and the willingness of the father to risk that son's freedom for a little extra cash. Worth time for those who enjoy tales of espionage.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...