The Hollywood Reporter broke the story Thursday that Cross Creek Pictures has purchased rights to turn The Spy’s Son into a movie, a thrilling development that was more than eight years in the making.Read More
The forthcoming edition of The Spy's Son, in Japanese, pushed me into new waters last Saturday, when I found myself entertaining an exceedingly polite film crew. I thought I could wear a sweater and jeans and sit for the interview in the library of the stately Portland University Club. But I thought wrong.Read More
I didn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy trilogy written by British author E.L. James, which has been described as an erotic Cinderella story of sexting, spanking, and bondage.
My girlfriend and most of her middle-aged contemporaries read the series, and I recall her once dropping used copies in paper grocery sack, unmarked, which she left at her doorstep for a clandestine pickup by one of her friends. Yes, a dead drop . . . just among friends.
So what does this have to do with real espionage and The Spy’s Son?Read More
Former Russian spy Alexy Yurievich Artamonov, who defected to the U.S. in 2008, has served Moscow and Washington -- and he's also found himself at odds with both governments.
For that reason, the Soviet-born Artamonov, who legally changed his name to Jan Neumann, might just be the perfect person to ask about Trump, Putin, and "Kremlingate."
In this exclusive Q&A, Neumann answers five pressing questions about the ongoing Cold War.Read More
The First Amendment is on shaky ground, m’friends.
President Trump recently declared journalists the “enemy of the American people.” A Gallup poll last September found that only 32 percent of Americans trust mass media, an all-time low dating back to the Nixon era. Meanwhile, financially crippled news organizations are taking it in the pants.
Now the government is getting in the act, suing reporters who file open-records requests for public documents. You know, doing their jobs.Read More
From a distance of nearly 5,000 miles, I commissioned a pair of twenty-somethings to pop into a bookstore in Amsterdam to see how the good people of The Netherlands were treating the brand-new Dutch version of The Spy’s Son.
My two-person reconnaissance team – siblings Andrew and Austin Quinlan – found the table where De Verrader en Zijn Zoon was displayed in Scheltema booksellers, a shop that’s been around since 1853. They propped up a few of the books for grander display. Then they cracked copies themselves and stood around looking utterly mesmerized.
Their theatrics remind me of something the author-humorist H. Allen Smith wrote years ago: “I think there ought to be a law barring all authors and all relatives of authors from bookstores.”Read More
Thanks to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, the CIA and it’s Russian counterpart, the SVR (not to mention the FBI, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange), the spy wars between the United States and Russia roar daily into headline news.
Sweet! Keep it up, kids.Read More
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
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
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
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
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
My son turned 18 this week and graduates from high school on Saturday. I ought to be overjoyed, hoisting strong drink, cheering the accomplishment, buying rounds for the house as I brag on my kid.
Instead I’ve pushed through the double doors of nostalgia, where I’m on a first-name basis with the maître d.
There I think of the ants.
It is my favorite story, the one I tell perfect strangers about my son, Holden. The one that tells you everything you need to know about him.Read More
A letter came in the mail yesterday afternoon in an envelope marked U.S. PENITENTIARY MAX. It was addressed to me from federal inmate No. 04475-046, Theodore John Kaczynski.
You know, the Unabomber.
Those of you following this blog will note that I received a similar letter, purportedly from Kaczynski, just last month.Read More
Jim Nicholson wrote to an old comrade in the CIA back in 2005. He was looking to cut a deal, perhaps a life for a life.
The disgraced CIA officer, serving 23 years in federal prison for espionage, wanted the U.S. spy agency to free him long enough to send him to the Middle east. His assignment: kill Osama bin Laden.
Here's an excerpt from the new Afterward of The Spy's Son, culled from FBI records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:Read More
A bird has turned my writing life into a sit-com.
I write for a living out of a condo with wooden siding on the southwestern fringe of Portland, Oregon, a bucolic, normally quiet spot next to what might be described as a thickly wooded park.
A wooded park overrun with woodpeckers, as it happens.Read More
Forgive me, but I typically dread public worship. I grew up Southern Baptist, which meant fire and brimstone sermons and the oh-so-literal fear of God. I grew up scared of the Big Skipper and have spent much of my adulthood ducking church and talking to my Creator in private.
Every now and again, I find myself in church as the guest of someone I love. There I sit, a backsliding Baptist, ill at ease and terribly unschooled in such matters as “kneelers,” the giving of the peace, and actual wine in the communion chalice.
For years I’ve waited for someone to stand at the pulpit and declare there is only one God, the God of all people, the God of every denomination of every faith in the world. And then, just last Sunday, it happened, an interfaith miracle in a Christian cathedral in downtown Portland, when a rabbi came to the pulpit.Read More
Sixteen years ago, I wrote to convicted serial killer Theodore Kaczynski seeking an interview. It wasn’t my proudest moment as a journalist, as I’ll explain below. But my interest in talking with the Unabomber was serious and heartfelt.
At the time, I was working for The Oregonian newspaper. I had just co-authored a multi-part series on ecoterrorism, a subject I knew would be near and dear to Kaczynski. His anarchistic manifesto on industrialized society heralded a wave of firebombings by the Earth Liberation Front and its like-minded cousins.
Last Thursday, I got an email from my former editor at The Oregonian with an intriguing subject line: “You have a letter here from Ted Kaczynski.”Read More
The hottest radio show in America is NPR’s Snap Judgment, which broadcasts long-form stories better than anybody.
I worked closely over the last few months with one of the show’s producers, Nancy López, to help her tell the father-son spy drama that formed the backbone of my book, The Spy’s Son. I gave Nancy some FBI wiretaps, and my former employer, The Oregonian, gave her permission to use portions of my original eight-hour interview with the protagonist of the story, Nathan Nicholson.
As Nancy put it, the tale “just really had the plot and the twists and turns to make a good Snap story.”
She talked me into a sound booth at Oregon Public Broadcasting for a couple of recording session to lend my (not-so-hot) voice to the narrative. Nancy’s narration, not to mention her spare but telling script and a haunting musical score, far exceeded my own high expectations.
But there’s a really cool back story, and here it is:Read More