An intense cat-and-mouse game played between two brilliant men in the last days of the Cold War, this shocking insider's story shows how a massive giveaway of secret war plans and nuclear secrets threatened America with annihilation.
In 1988 Joe Navarro, one of the youngest agents ever hired by the FBI, was dividing his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissance, and working counterintelligence. But his real expertise was "reading" body language. He possessed an uncanny ability to glean the thoughts of those he interrogated.
So it was that, on a routine assignment to interview a "person of interest" - a former American soldier named Rod Ramsay - Navarro noticed his interviewee's hand trembling slightly when he was asked about another soldier who had recently been arrested in Germany on suspicion of espionage. That thin lead was enough for the FBI agent to insist to his bosses that an investigation be opened.
What followed is unique in the annals of espionage detection - a two-year-long battle of wits. The dueling antagonists: an FBI agent who couldn't overtly tip to his target that he suspected him of wrongdoing lest he clam up, and a traitor whose weakness was the enjoyment he derived from sparring with his inquisitor. Navarro's job was made even more difficult by his adversary's brilliance: not only did Ramsay possess an authentic photographic memory as well as the second highest IQ ever recorded by the US Army, he was bored by people who couldn't match his erudition. To ensure that the information flow would continue, Navarro had to pre-choreograph every interview, becoming a chess master plotting 20 moves in advance.
And the backdrop to this mental tug of war was the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the very real possibility that its leaders, in a last bid to alter the course of history, might launch a devastating attack. If they did, they would have Ramsay to thank, because as Navarro would learn over the course of 42 mind-bending interviews, Ramsay had, by his stunning intelligence giveaways, handed the Soviets the ability to utterly destroy the US.
The story of a determined hero who pushed himself to jaw-dropping levels of exhaustion and who rallied his team to expose undreamed of vulnerabilities in America's defense, Three Minutes to Doomsday will leave the listener with disturbing thoughts of the risks the country takes even today with its most protected national secrets.
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The best of Clancy with the best of Law & Order
Agent captures spy
Everyone is human. Joe isn't super man. He shows his tricks. He falls flat occasionally e.g. running into the occasional brickwall by WFO, HQ, DOJ. The encounters with the office manager are priceless. Building rapport with his partners, specially She-Moody, is exceptionally well written.
Even the bad guy emerges as a human being, not a caricature. He committed treason. But you see how it happens - not as an excuse, but as an explanation.
I've read Joe's body language book before (remembered the abrazzo (?)) example, and that fits in neatly with the overall story. You can see him arranging the furniture, offering a soda at the right moment, directing him to the restroom with a sharp gesture... and arguing with the office manager as to why hauling the guy into the Tampa Field Office with its available conference rooms is a terrible idea.
At the end, when the story wraps up you sense why Joe couldn't celebrate the arrest, and why he was at his physical and mental limit. The moments with his family are tender, and a reminder of what he's sacrificing to the case.
Oh heck yes
Joe stated that his Mom reads the reviews. Mrs. Navarro, this review was written for you. Read Joe's book twice. Once for the story. The second time to see how he did everything. You have a lot to be proud of. God bless.
- Lord Emsworth
Good for students of the art