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The Bureau and the Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Philip Hanssen, the Most Dangerous Double Agent in FBI History

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  525 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Robert Philip Hanssen was one of the FBI's most trusted agents, a twenty-five-year veteran who was a devout Catholic and devoted suburban family man, who attended the same church and sent his children to the same school as his boss, bureau director Louis J. Freeh. But as he rose up the ranks to become one of America's foremost counterintelligence experts, he was also leadi ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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This is a very interesting story and I enjoy reading about Robert Hanssen. However, Vise spent so much time in the beginning creating a backstory for both Hanssen and Freeh that when he finally got to the espionage part I was disappointed. I felt that through the backstory Vise spent the entire time quoting interviews, which is fine, until you get to the part that is interesting and it reads so quickly the reader becomes disappointed.Yes, the reader needs to understand how messed up Robert Hanss ...more
Pat Cummings
Mar 20, 2015 Pat Cummings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
For two decades, Robert Hansen was the picture of the “man in black” FBI agent: industrious, immersed in his family life, a member of the strict Catholic Opus Dei movement, openly scornful of fellow agents who drank or engaged in love affairs. He was, if somewhat self-righteous, apparently a good agent and an honest man. Yet all that time, Hansen was stealing thousands of top-secret documents and transferring them to the KGB.

David Vise’s book, The Bureau and the Mole , is a fascinating glimpse
Kai Palchikoff
The Bureau and the Mole is the sensational New York Times best-seller that tells the inside story of FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Philip Hanssen, a seemingly all-American boy who would become the perfect traitor, jeopardizing America's national security for over twenty years by selling top-secret information to the Russians. Drawing from a wide variety of sources in the FBI, the Justice Department, the White House, and the intelligence community, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David A. Vi ...more
Mariah Burton Nelson
Seems that everything in this book was also in the Washington Post at the time, but it's a good story nevertheless, and a good companion piece to the TV series The Americans, which was apparently written by a former CIA agent.

So many of the details in this true story also show up in the TV series: the two-way emotional manipulations by KGB and FBI, the "honeypots," the exposure of double-agents, the revelations about secrets about spy techniques, the deliberate misinformation, even the FBI movi
Mar 23, 2015 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. This book covered the nuts and bolts of Robert Philip Hansen's spying fairly well. And the background and story of Louis Freeh were quite good and new to me. But the Hansen subject, aside from thorough coverage of his youth and early life, really lacks detail. Perhaps I'm spoiled by too much good nonfiction, but there were relatively few interview subjects quoted outright. I was at times left wondering how much of the narrative and character of Hansen were just speculation from th ...more
Michelle Dorn
this was a very interesting book. I liked all the background into Hanssen, especially the psychological aspects of his motivations for the spying and release of documents to the Soviet Union. The linking of his acts to current events in the time period was also good as it helped me place what kind of damage the revelations could potentially cause. His marriage self was such a paradox to his spy self, almost another personality entirely. I tend to agree with one review in that there is not much a ...more
What a weird guy Hanssen was, and is. His poor wife and family. I recently saw Breach, so I think I'm about set for life on my recent history CIA spies exposed.
This guy Hanssen was a real shit. I hope they put him in a cell with Michael Vick, a pit-bull, and a viagra dispenser.
Jan 09, 2016 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew of Hanssen before reading this book, but I didn't know what a ridiculously creepy individual he was.
You'd think a guy that rubs everyone, literally everyone, the wrong way in all aspects of his live would pop more red flags in an environment as vigilant as the FBI.
Its the classic story of a weak, insecure man wanting to be more than he is and letting his ego be stroked by those who only want what he can give.
As angry as his betrayal made me, the encompassing emotion I felt was pity. Its
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl
Parts of this book were interesting, if only because of the character was leading this intriguing double life. Outwardly he was a staunchly religious law-and-order type FBI agent, but secretly he had some unusual sexual fantasies, some of which he was playing out, cheated on his wife, and was selling information to the Russians over a span of decades.

However, I found the writing rather dry and felt the author just wasn't a very good storyteller. Also, I found myself very dubious of some of his
Danny Eguía
Apr 29, 2016 Danny Eguía rated it really liked it
The authors early life information on Hanssen and Freeh was full of small details. These details gave me an insight into both men and how they both chose their paths. In the end, I would have liked to know more of the actual trial and not just the outcome with little description of what happened throughout. This would have launched this book from great to outstanding.
Oct 30, 2014 Kerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've spent so long reading this five pages at a time, I don't think I'll ever get to the end. Moving on. It's not that it's not interesting (it is), it just takes much more for me to invest and finish nonfiction. The book definitely makes a good case for exactly why every American should hold in their heart a black contempt for Hanssen.
Paul Jones
Dec 24, 2015 Paul Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and tragic

Interesting to read how this traitor was able to steal secrets, pass them to our enemies, and remain undetected for decades. Tragic effect on national security and our agents who were killed as a result of hi treachery.
Jan 17, 2008 Doug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the only book I have ever thrown away after reading. I was expecting a true-life spy thriller but got more than I bargained for.

This book was fascinating and well-researched. However, it was also very depressing to read about Robert Hanssen's double life. In addition to betraying his country, he betrayed his wife, children and faith in sordid and depressing ways.

I actually skipped one chapter of this book and didn't really want it around for my kids to read someday. I learned a little ab
Sep 01, 2014 Cam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book and I liked it a lot. Although I did think that about half the book wasn't really needed. The chapters that had to do with The director of the FBI didn't really have anything to do with Hansen. Maybe I missed something but I felt like it was all filler. Thought some of the "filler" chapters were really interesting. So yeah, kinda cool! I recommend it!
Oct 28, 2015 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too much political discussion, not enough about Robert Hanssen. There are almost as many pages on Louis Freeh, the FBI director, as there are about the Soviet double agent in the FBI, Hanssen.
Dec 03, 2014 Connie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating. I have seen the movie made from it Breach, but I find that books usually give more insight than movies. It does not surprise me that Hanssen was able to do what he did for so long- the government never has paid attention to what is important.
Jan 20, 2016 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author did a fair job with the Hanssen part, but then took off in a different tangent about inside politics of the FBI. Because of this the second half of the book was not nearly as interesting as the first. In fairness, it would have been a better read if I had not already been familiar with the story.
Rhonda Anderson
Interesting information, reminded me of our trip to the Spy Museum in Washington D.C. It is, however, poorly written.
Steve Cobleigh
Bureaucratic stupidity. Read here to see how far it can go.
for a "story" type of nonfiction book, i expected a lot more. i guess i'm used to michael lewis-type of exposition, and this book was more like, oh this guy, he spied. he spied some more. then he got caught. i guess you have to give the author some credit, because he was working backwards, and because he was also working with highly classified information.

this book is still readable though, and it's really a very good example of how men can be egocentric, deeply disturbed, socially incompetent i
Jun 19, 2011 Alan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I usually enjoy post-mortem exposés on big events, but this was light on details. It introduced Hanssen's first act of espionage without any back ground on motivation or even how it got started. Likewise no background info was provided how the FBI came to discover Hanssen as the mole other than clues provided in documents they received from Russia (but no details on the type of documents or how they came in possession of them). This could have been riveting, but the lack of detail makes it only ...more
Oct 15, 2008 Carissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults/ non-fiction readers
Recommended to Carissa by: Rob Chong
This is certainly a first rate spy story, and it is all true, which makes it a very cool non-fiction read. There are a couple very risque chapters in the middle, although they do help to place Bob Hanssen's mind. This book really does a great job at explaining his personality, insecurities and ego, and how they play into his espionage. It also helped me understand more about the politics at the time, an just more in general about the F.B.I. and parts of its history. I would recommend it to adult ...more
Dr. Richard
Jan 06, 2016 Dr. Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I was reading this book it seemed I had read it before, which I knew I had not. When I finished reading it I did some research and soon realized I had seen the movie a few years. I looked on my shelf and there it was: Breach with Chris Cooper. I watched the movie and it made more sense, but was now disappointed in that it mostly dealt with the final few months of the story. To that end, I was glad I had read the book and found it interesting.

Jaime Barboza
Aug 10, 2015 Jaime Barboza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
May 07, 2016 Mallori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. some nsfw parts that I didnt expect.
The subject never came alive.
May 05, 2011 Lucas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story and really compelling beginning, but the author lost focus somewhere along the way. What truly could have been a phenomenal biography turned into an account of lots of other people's actions mixed in with what 'the mole' was doing. Back story gave way to filler in more than one instance. Still though it was the best account I have read about the inadequacy of the intelligence community and a memorizing account of modern day espionage. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Jun 07, 2007 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Spying
Shelves: books-i-own
I have found the story of former FBI Agent Bob Hanssen to be one of the most fascinating and invigorating stories about a spy I have ever heard of. This book provides an account of Bob Hanssen's life and the possible reasons for him becoming a Double Agent, and it talks about the FBI, mainly the head of the FBI Louis Freeh, and how they eventually caught him. I would also highly recommend the new movie "Breach" which is based on the true story of the downfall of Bob Hanssen.
Aug 21, 2009 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Hansen is considered one of the most damaging spies in the history of our nation. His works against the country, were never for political reasons. Rather they were to prove that he was smarter than everyone else. The book does an excellent job of retelling a catalog of his betrayals and how he was eventually caught.

I enjoyed it, it was a bit dry and ponderous at parts. There were some chapters that made no sense as to why they were included in the book.
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