A Uniform for My Fellow Journalists (aka "Enemies of America")

My dad went to Texas A&M University, which by family decree (especially during football season) has long forbidden me from saying anything nice about the other school – you know, the University of Texas.

That ends today.

The alumni group for UT’s Daily Texan newspaper and the group Texas Student Media have smartly and bravely conspired to create a T-shirt that should be worn proudly by every journalist in America -- hell, every human in America -- regardless of their politics. Here’s how it reads:

Read More

Spies, lies and betrayal: My Newsweek story on 'The Almost Americans' (UPDATED)

A pair of former Russian spies gave me eight months of exclusive interviews, a riveting and heartbreaking tale of defection to the USA and betrayals by the American intelligence agencies that promised to protect them.

Want to know about the corrupt state of affairs in Vladimir Putin's Russia? The ongoing turf wars between the CIA and FBI? What happens when the U.S. recruits a pair of defecting spies?

Then you'll want to read my piece in Newsweek: The Almost Americans.

Read More

What Makes a Great Book Cover in a Foreign Market?

The Spy’s Son will be published in a dozen nations, a gratifying turn for a new author and a testament to thehard work of my splendid literary agent, Tamar Rydzinski, and her co-agents around the world.

While I’m aware you really can’t judge a book by its cover (public law by virtue of adage), I do find myself wondering what image that foreign publishing houses will put on the cover of my book and what bearing those covers have on readers willing to shell out money to buy the thing.

Read More

Sexy Russian spy Anna Chapman plays a role in The Spy's Son (with video)

Six years ago this month, the United States expelled sexy Russian spy Anna Chapman and a team of her deep-cover pals.

Chapman and company spent a decade posing as ordinary Americans on U.S. soil as they spied on U.S. policymakers and inveigled their way into such companies as Microsoft.

You remember Chapman. She was the sexy redhead who returned to Moscow as a hero, turning her fame into TV shows, lingerie ads, and a famous cover shot on Russian editions of Maxim.

But did you know that Chapman and company, a group of foreign intelligence officers known to the FBI as “the illegals,” make a surprise appearance in The Spy’s Son?

Read More

A view from Council Crest, the top of Portland, with mood music

My girlfriend and I drank too much wine at a charity auction in early 2015 and won a guided trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

I was 60 pounds overweight and knew I’d have to diet like a fiend and start, you know, getting the hell out of my writing room and moving my fat ass around if I didn’t want to die on the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet.

On Thursday, I took a twelve-mile training trek in Portland, Oregon. It was sunny and 77 degrees and relatively dry. But I failed to eat anything before jogging down to the Willamette River and hiking to the highest point in the city, Council Crest. When I got to the top, I thought perhaps I was hallucinating.

Because there, right in front of me, was a sight so surreal I began to doubt my own eyes and ears.

Read More