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Tool of the Trade
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Tool of the Trade

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  318 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Nicholas Foley appears to be an ordinary American psychology professor. He is, in fact, a Russian spy, inserted into the United States after World War II, joining the American army, attending American universities, falling in love and marrying an American, but always in touch with his Soviet superiors. All he ever does in the way of spying is turn in the names of people wh ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published April 1st 1987 by William Morrow & Company (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

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May 24, 2017 Nic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very clever book. Well worth the read.
Tony Atkins
"Tool of the Trade" belongs to a sub-genre of SF that could be called "Simon Says".

What if someone had the power to make other people do what they wanted, if free will came with an asterisk? This is entertaining source material that's mined over and over again in comic books (1 2.

For the story to work, there have to be limitations on the power, a class of people who are immune, or some other reason why life isn't infinitely easy for someone who can just order people to do what they want. This
Dec 15, 2008 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haldeman's stories are generally variations on the theme of academics going to war. Usually, the outcome is peace, in so many different ways. In this case, it's a cold war novel, with our protagonist being a polyglot growing up in WW2 Leningrad, being trained as a KGB sleeper agent, who is installed as a psychology professor in Cambridge, MA to recruit communist sympathizers. (The author even jokes that this isn't hard, as anyone who's been to Cambridge will readily agree.) It's in the course of ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Gunn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better books I've read recently by one of my preferred authors. This one was a little harder to track down as I had to get it via inter-library loan. I suspect it's because one of the main forces in the story - the KGB - no longer exists.

Set in the mid-late 80s, this is a character driven story about a man who discovers a unique ability and then finds himself being hunted by both the CIA and the KGB. The scifi element of the ability aside, the fleshing out of the characters and their
Sean Randall
Aug 23, 2010 Sean Randall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, without doubt, the best and most thrilling espionage story I have read in the last six months. not, perhaps, in the sense of a thriller in the traditional mould; after all, it's clear where the story is heading. The Humanity, the action, the backdrops both US and Russian and the sheer pace of the thing kept me turning pages until the very end.

Of course, should the leading nuclear proliferates decide to disarm themselves today, all it would take would be a single terrorist or even a trig
Timothy Boyd
Jan 26, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never know what Joe Haldeman is going to do to a SiFi story, but I do know I will enjoy the read. He always does an excellent job of combining SiFi with military fiction, Mystery and suspense and horror fiction. Now, in this book I get a SiFi and spy novel all blended together. Another excellent read, Very recommended
David Cain
Oct 06, 2010 David Cain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This is a pulpy, fast moving science-fiction espionage thriller. Although many of the characters are not well developed and some of the plot details are kind of ludicrous, this is nevertheless a really entertaining book. I guess the whole was better than the sum of its parts. The writing is solid and I recommend this as a quick and diverting read.
Nov 28, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty typical Joe Haldeman yarn - it's about the guy who has the power to change the world, and he does his damnedest to do the right thing. It hits a lot of the typical Haldeman tropes, but the tight storytelling makes this one a keeper.
Mark Isaak
For a science fiction story about the Cold War, set in the 1980s, this book has held up rather well, although I would now call it historical fantasy. The plot suffers from actually being two consecutive plots, but the writing is engaging.
Sep 28, 2012 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a suspensful and fun book, bordering on scifi since we do not currently have (in the public eye) the technology it describes. It is also based on a land that no longer exists and makes the book all that more intriguing.
Sep 25, 2009 Nate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you could control people's minds what would you do? Answer: start a night-life making pimps shoot themselves, and then combine it with your history as a spy to reduce the Soviet and U.S. nuclear arsenals.
Ray Charbonneau
3-plus? It's lacking in characterization and the plot's mechanical, but it was good fun to read.
Chris Maguire
Mar 30, 2015 Chris Maguire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters weren't really believable, for me, but it was a fun read none-the-less. Some of ideas concerning the main premise were a little stretched, but not terribly so.
Oct 13, 2012 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time. Every time I have read it (at least 4) I have been unable to put it down.
Dan Parsons
Feb 14, 2010 Dan Parsons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome 1980s cold war spy / espionage + scifi thriller.
Rob Adey
Apr 23, 2014 Rob Adey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining SF thriller, one part Len Deighton to two parts Harry Harrison.
Avatar rated it it was amazing
Dec 24, 2013
Chris rated it liked it
Mar 05, 2014
Steve Bozeman
Steve Bozeman rated it liked it
Jan 06, 2013
Steve rated it really liked it
Aug 06, 2014
Howard rated it it was ok
Feb 12, 2011
Michael Coyne
Michael Coyne rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2014
Walter Christie
Walter Christie rated it liked it
May 15, 2016
Shane Matthews
Shane Matthews rated it really liked it
Dec 07, 2013
Susan rated it really liked it
Jan 12, 2016
Declan rated it it was amazing
Jun 06, 2013
Kazimir Petrovich
Kazimir Petrovich rated it liked it
Jan 16, 2015
Howard rated it really liked it
Jul 05, 2012
Chris Griffes
Chris Griffes rated it liked it
Sep 06, 2010
Paraph rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2013
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Brother of Jack C. Haldeman II

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA pres
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