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The Debriefing

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  124 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
With the publication of his New York Times bestseller The Company, Robert Littell reestablished his position as one of the top writers of intelligent, ironic, and always entertaining espionage thrillers. After many years The Debriefing is finally available again as Overlook brings back Littell’s classics. From the secret meeting rooms of Washington to the interrogation cha ...more
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by The Overlook Press (first published March 1st 1990)
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Best Spy Novels
422nd out of 865 books — 1,577 voters
Legends by Robert LittellThe Once and Future Spy by Robert LittellWalking Back the Cat by Robert LittellThe Amateur by Robert LittellThe Company by Robert Littell
Best Robert Littell Novels
7th out of 9 books — 4 voters

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Sam Reaves
Mar 26, 2015 Sam Reaves rated it really liked it
A nice little espionage puzzle by a master of the genre. A Soviet courier defects with a diplomatic pouch full of secrets. The CIA officer in charge of debriefing him finds the whole thing a little too convenient. His attempts to prove it's a setup eventually take him on a risky undercover jaunt to Moscow, where he enlists some local help to check out the fishy bits. Lots of tradecraft, a vivid depiction of the shabbiness of Brezhnev-era Soviet life, and the usual intellectual chess match, with ...more
May 05, 2014 Tuxlie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA


“ Elegant . . . works like a clock with three sticks of dynamite attached to it.”
The New York Times

The Debriefing is beautifully plotted . . . with a clever, ironic twist at the end . . . Littell’s craftsmanship shines through.”
Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Robert Littell was born, raised, and educated in New York. A former Newsweek editor specializing in Soviet affairs, he left journalism in 1970

Aug 17, 2016 Kashmira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Too many I'm About To-s. The first half of the book was the author setting up so many plot points that are ABOUT TO mature into some really satisfying payoffs, and you're poised on the edge of your seat, ready to launch like a rocket. And the second half (as Stone settles into life in Moscow and his investigation) just... meanders away somewhere else.

Honestly, after a point, I read Robert Littell for his incredibly unsettling insider's viewpoint of life behind the Iron Curtain and the throwaway,
Jim Leckband
I've read several novels of Littell and I've run into a problem where it is hard for me to judge this book on its own terms. I know some of Littell's quirks about the spy game and I'm anticipating some of the plot points from that experience. Which is not unlike to that which is happening to the debriefer in this novel.

The debriefer (Stone) has to ascertain whether a defecting courier from the Soviet Union is really an "honest" defector and whether the courier bag's info is reliable. The debrief
Kevin Coombs
Nov 03, 2013 Kevin Coombs rated it really liked it
This is a fairly straightforward Cold War espionage story...or is it? A low-level Soviet courier defects to the U.S., and with him he brings a trove of useful information. The story's protagonist travels to The Soviet Union under false cover to verify the defector's identity, and information. Is he a real defector or a plant? If a plant, does he know it or is he being used? Is the information useful or plated, and if it is planted is it planted so the Americans know it is planted - leading them ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Hko rated it it was ok
aardige plot, begin was ook veelbelovend. Helaas was het daarna, zeker in Rusland, met grote stappen en weinig diepgang naar het einde toe. Leuk open eindje wel, dat kan een vervolg opleveren.
Pamela Mclaren
This was an intriguing story from start to finish. The story begins as a Russian courier picks up a diplomatic pouch and while in another country, defects. He is handed over to an American agency that reports directly to the head of the joint chief of staff. They get the diplomat, while the CIA gets what is in the diplomatic pouch. Then the trick becomes — is he and the materials that he was carrying genuine? Or something sent to trick the Americans?
David Orphal
Aug 07, 2013 David Orphal rated it liked it
Solid story by the author is The Company. Plot was predictable in the second half of the book, but that was fine, since the story of how Stone finds the answer is fun. The ending twist is disappointingly contrived and predictable. If this is your first book by Littell, don't let this one keep you away from The Company or the Revolutionist. They are much, much better
Danny Bobby
Nov 30, 2013 Danny Bobby rated it really liked it
Another solid read by Littell. Some of this was pretty easy to figure out, some of it really caught me by surprise, but all of it was enjoyable to read.
Sep 04, 2013 Barb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, nope
Good first half, boring second half -- so much so that I no longer care how how it ends.
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An American author residing in France. He specializes in spy novels that often concern the CIA and the Soviet Union. He became a journalist and worked many years for Newsweek during the Cold War. He's also an amateur mountain climber and is the father of award-winning novelist Jonathan Littell.
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