• 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
  • By: Bryan Denson
  • Narrated by: Jason Culp
  • Length: 12 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 05-05-15
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (1,277 ratings)
  • Whispersync for Voice-ready

Regular price: $24.95

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Publisher's Summary

Investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist Bryan Denson tells the riveting story of the Nicholsons - father and son coconspirators who deceived their country by selling national secrets to Russia.
Jim Nicholson was one of the CIA's top veteran case officers. By day he taught spycraft at the CIA's clandestine training center, The Farm. By night,he was a minivan-driving single father racing home to have dinner with his kids. But Nicholson led a double life. For more than two years, he had met covertly with agents of Russia's foreign intelligence service and turned over troves of classified documents. In 1997 Nicholson became the highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of espionage. But his duplicity didn't stop there.
While behind the bars of a federal prison, the former mole systematically groomed the one person he trusted most to serve as his stand-in: his youngest son, Nathan. When asked to smuggle messages out of prison to Russian contacts, Nathan saw an opportunity to be heroic and to make his father proud.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Bryan Denson. Recorded by arrangement with Grove Atlantic, Inc. (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"A haunting book as fast paced and as exciting as the best spy novel...and it’s all true." (Robert Lindsey, author of The Falcon and the Snowman)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By AudioAddict on 12-05-15

True story that's as exciting as fiction

STORY (personal memoir) - I'm very careful purchasing true stories and personal memoirs because they have a hard time competing with fiction when it comes to pure entertainment value. BUT...this story has it all. You will hear of Jim Nicholson's (the spy) years working in the CIA, his family life and, of course, his betrayal of America by passing top secret information to Russians. You will hear about secret communications, photographing documents, meeting Russian handlers in various countries, just like in Bond movies minus the chase scenes, women and the fancy gadgets. You will also hear how, while imprisoned for espionage, Jim was able to influence his youngest son, Nathan, into briefly following in his own footsteps.

One of my favorite parts is when the CIA and FBI work together to gather enough evidence for a clear-cut case against Jim while, at the same time, not causing him to flee to safety in Russia. Spies spying on a spy! At one point (tiny spoiler) the government purchased a van just like Jim's so they could tear it apart to identify hiding places. Then they rented a crane to pick up Jim's van, place it on a truck and haul it off to be secretly searched without increasing odometer miles. Jim's investigation was known to only a small handful of agents, as there could be Russian moles in the agency or friends who might inadvertently warn him of the investigation and, again, cause him to flee to political asylum in Russia. The book ends with the American legal system dealing justice to both Nicholsons.

PERFORMANCE - Good job, even tossed in a few Russian accents for the spies.

OVERALL - Recommended for anyone interested in the subject, male or female. There is no sex or violence, but there is a sprinkling of curse words.

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15 of 15 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 05-27-15


This book reads more like a spy novel than a non-fiction book. It grabbed my attention right off and held it throughout the book.

In June 1997 Judge James Cacheris sentenced Harold James Nicholson, the highest ranking CIA officer ever convicted of espionage to 23 years in prison. He was placed in a federal prison in Oregon where his family lived. He was arrested and convicted while in prison, again for espionage for running his own son. He had another eight years added to his sentence.

Nicholson had recruited his youngest son Nathan to carry messages to his Russian contact and bring home the money they paid him. Bryan Denson is a reporter with The Oregonian newspaper. He drew upon FBI reports, court documents, military records, personal correspondence and hundreds of hours of interviews (with Nathan) for this award winning book.

The book is full of fascinating details of the clock and dagger techniques of the KGB and CIA operatives, double agents and spy catchers. The author tells the story of the Nicholson family and what happened to it when betrayed by the father.

I found this a most interesting story. Jason Culp does an excellent job narrating the book.

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26 of 27 people found this review helpful

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