The fascinating story of a young American amateur who helped the FBI bust a Russian spy in New York - sold in 10 countries and in a major deal with 20th Century Fox.
For three nerve-wracking years, Naveed Jamali spied on America for the Russians, trading thumb drives of sensitive technical data for envelopes of cash, selling out his own beloved country across noisy restaurant tables and in quiet parking lots. Or so the Russians believed. In fact this young American civilian was a covert double agent working with the FBI. The Cold War wasn't really over. It had just gone high tech.
How to Catch a Russian Spy is the one-of-a-kind story of how one young man's post-college adventure became a real-life US counterintelligence coup. He had no previous counterespionage experience. Everything he knew about undercover work he'd learned from Miami Vice and Magnum PI reruns and movies like Ronin, Spy Game, and anything with Bond or Bourne in the title. And yet, hoping to gain experience to become a navy intelligence officer, he convinced the FBI and the Russians they could trust him. With charm, cunning, and a big load of naiveté, he matched wits with a veteran Russian military-intelligence officer who was recruiting spies on American soil, outmaneuvering the Russian spy and his secret-hungry superiors. Along the way Jamali and his FBI handlers cast a rare light on espionage activities at the Russian Mission to the United Nations in New York and earned a solid US win in the escalating hostilities between Moscow and Washington.
Now Jamali reveals the whole engaging story behind his double-agent adventure - from coded signals on Craigslist to the Russian spy's propensity for Hooters' Buffalo wings. Cinematic, news-breaking, and wildly entertaining, How to Catch a Russian Spy is an armchair spy fantasy brought to life.
Film rights sold to 20th Century Fox for director Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, 500 Days of Summer).
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The whole book is a humblebrag.
You know when your friend studies abroad in Spain for 1 semester and then they come back really adamant about pronouncing Barcelona as "Barthelona" ? That's just a tiny fraction of this guy. You can hardly get to the story without him dropping random Master's degree's that his family has, random references to graduate student beloved writers, and name drops of esoteric post-modern authors. Sure, I understood because this was, moronically, the type of stuff I chose to study in college. But Man, this guy is SO over the top. It's like a guy struggling to bench press as much as he can to show you that he can. The story is totally 2nd to you understanding how cool and hip and urbane he is. He's so well read and dreamy.... and what are we even talking about? Russian Spies?
He waxes poetic for entire chapters about how cool he was in high school and college, making you sit around and relive his glory days with him, like he's Al Bundy from "Married with Children" talking about his four touchdowns that one game back at Polk High.
What I liked best? I guess the few moments of 'fly on the wall' insight where a) it didn't feel like he wasn't embellishing, which was rare, and b) he wasn't flexing his 'I just got out of grad school, look at all these random esoteric names I can drop' muscles. But those moments were fleeting.
How insecure this guy must feel on a regular basis.
Just Too Much
Definitely not - the writer just needs to gain some confidence and focus on telling a gripping story. We're here for the russian spy stuff, not how cool it was that time you got sent to the principals office in school (I wish I was joking)
The narrator - He actually wasn't bad , but the accents were terrible and ill-advised in general. Really doesn't help add to the 'non-fiction' vice when he's doing goofy voices for every character.
A real plot not a narrative.
Anyone. He made it sound like the author was a twelve year old.
Why the FBI would have put any credence in the author is alarming in the extreme. His motives for getting involved as he did were transparently pure egotism from the first to the last page and he did a poor job of disguising it. His bare all patriotism made him sound like an infatuated adolescence. How on earth did this book get published at all? The read, that I dutifully finished, was a complete waste of time.