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The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)
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The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  706 ratings  ·  58 reviews
"Charles McCarry is the best modern writer on the subject of intrigue," wrote P.J. O'Rourke and Time Magazine has declared that "there is no better American spy novelist." McCarry's first book, The Miernik Dossier, originally published in 1973, is a riveting and imaginative tale in which a small group of international agents embark on a car trip in a Cadillac, from Switzer...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published November 3rd 2005 by Overlook Hardcover (first published 1973)
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The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
116th out of 531 books — 600 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,503)
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Jeffrey Keeten
On his experience being a deep-cover agent for the CIA: "It's one of the most boring occupations in the world, punctuated by moments of ecstasy. You sit around for days, sometimes for weeks, waiting for something you think you have made happen, to happen. And sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. Or waiting for an agent to show up. They're famous for not doing that, or showing up in the wrong place or on the wrong day, wrong hour." Charles McCarry

In the 1980s I read just about every espio...more
Nancy Oakes
I must confess that after the Berlin Wall came down, I had this feeling that that was it for the Cold War spy novel. So I was truly happy to find this book, which was written in 1971, so I could once again relive the Cold War spy experience.

The Miernik Dossier (the first of the Paul Christopher series), is written in a style that one would find if they could infiltrate the files of an espionage agency and open up an actual dossier. The story is told through reports of various agents, intercepte...more
May 18, 2010 gaby rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: spy
Charles McCarry manages a steep feat in this novel -- he matches the sophistication of Graham Greene's espionage 'entertainments' with the literary integrity of a Paul Bowles-esque Northern African expedition. For real! If I were to ask for a spy book to be written for me, it might end up a lot like the Miernik Dossier -- Cold War suspicion, late-night border crossings, fancy European cocktail parties, double agents, religious & sexual tension, standard tradecraft and introspective anti-hero...more
A very good espionage novel written in the early 1970's. The story is told through various agent reports, transcripts, journal entries, etc. and when I saw the structure of the book I was a bit hesitant but the plot unfolded smoothly and each character was fully realized.
I had never heard of this book--which it turns out is the first of ten with a recurrent character. It is quite good and really unusual in form, I think. (I don't believe the others in the series follow the form, but I could be wrong about that.) It is, as the title suggests, a dossier--a collection of materials that support a narrative about a man named Miernik. The materials are things like transcripts of wiretaps, reports filed by a variety of agents, notes from debriefings and such like. Only...more
1959. An intercepted message indicates the Soviets may be sending an agent into Sudan to assist some anti-government rebels. Further investigation points to one man, and the Americans have a plan to turn this to their advantage.

I don't have much experience with epistolary novels, but my limited exposure makes me feel they're problematic, chiefly because I don't believe people write with that much detail in their regular correspondence. There's too much of the novelist in the documents and not en...more
I read this book after it received high praise from Olen Steinhauer, whose spy novels I love. I did not love the Miernik Dossier, however.

The Miernik Dossier, by Charles McCarry, purports to be a collection of documents describing a "typical operation" for the CIA. The subject of this operation is Tadeusz Miernik, a Polish national who has been called back to his home country from Geneva (where he works for the WRO) and fears he will be imprisoned by the secret police if he returns. (The novel i...more
Brad Lyerla
THE MIERNIK DOSSIER is wonderful recreational reading. It is the first of McCarry's Paul Christopher novels and it is engrossing. There is no narrative. The novel is presented as a dossier; that is, a collection of documents in a file representing the fruits of a failed operation conducted by our CIA in Europe and North Africa in the late 1950s. The documents include reports submitted by American and British operatives, excerpts from the journal of a suspected Polish spy, the debriefing of vario...more
Makes le Carre seem like a writer for a "True Romance" magazine.
First published in the 70's now republished along with all McCarry's other novels.
This is the debut from McCarry a former CIA spy in the cold war. It tells the story of CIA man Paul Christopher and his involvement with a group of other spies on a journey to the Sudan. So far so ordinary but this book stands out for 2 reasons.
Firstly its told not in first or third person but using the conceit of a dossier about the journey comprising agents reports, telegrams, intercepted letters and broken coded...more
Alex Yalen
The quick review is that this is one of the finest books -- period -- I've ever read and that, in my view, it's superior to the more well-known (and, don't get me wrong, also brilliant) SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD.

I loved how McCarry structured the book. As the title suggests, it's ordered like an intelligence file on a case, with telephone intercept transcripts, diary entries, cables, memos, etc. I thought it was a pretty brilliant idea to work the story that way. It's not just a gimmick, ei...more
Feb 03, 2008 Tripp rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spy fiction lovers
Charles McCarry is one of our most under appreciated living authors. Its shocking that he is not as well known as Le Carre or even Furst. McCarry served in the CIA and his background shows in the details of his spy novels. His first novel the Miernik Dossier is a terrifically engaging work recommended to anyone who likes literary thrillers.

While the story, involving the trip of Polish official who may or may not be a spy to Sudan is excellent, the book shines in its verisimilitude, even in its o...more
Espionage is never clear cut - all the best spy thrillers make that point, some labour it. Alan Furst has a habit of creating romance out of the dilemma; John Le Carre finds victims in it.

In the Miernik Dossier, Charles McCarry carries the idea beyond the end of the book. Not only does he leave the central question unresolved (was Miernik a spy or not?), he actually goes further: the reader is left wondering if the question mark that hangs over him or her at the end of the book is actually refl...more
#2 On Alan Furst's Top 5 Spy Books of All Time. Can't beat that rec.

Furst says, "With “The Miernik Dossier,” Charles McCarry introduced us to Paul Christopher, the brilliant and sensitive CIA officer who would appear in a series of perhaps more widely known novels, such as “The Secret Lovers” and “Second Sight.” The book itself is the “dossier” in question: the reports and memoranda filed by a quintet of mutually mistrustful espionage agents, including a seductive Hungarian princess and a seemi...more
Ian Robb
A spy story. This is written as a series of diary entries, interviews, telephone taps etc. so that there are many viewpoints. Miernik appears to some to be a Pole who is a spy and to other a bumbling clumsy person. In the end he is killed but it is never clear which he was. I want to read something else by this author. The story is set in about 1959 and involves a trip to the Sudan in an air conditioned Cadillac.

Read on the Kindle. A trip into Egypt with Kindle who people think is a spy, his sis...more
Scott E
Told through internal documents, agent reports, interviews, and diary entries, The Miernik Dossier involves a number of agents from different countries, all traveling to Sudan. The twists are subtle, much like Le Carre and Greene...depending on your version, the back cover may "spice up" the plot a bit. Regardless, this is completely engrossing, and once you begin, you hardly notice the unique style in which the story is told.

The book itself was written in the early 70s, with the story taking pl...more
Mike Patterson
Thoroughly enjoyed it, even the clever format, which brought believability to the events. A very good writer. I'll read more of his work. Wonder how I could have missed him 20-30 years ago. But he'll be a pleasure for an old man to enjoy in retirement.
Scott Carter-eldred
You like spy books, you'll like this book. LeCarre, Steinhauser. You like those books, you'll at least find this book entertaining.
Jennifer Taw
A quick read imagining the machinations of the intelligence world and a little window into the politics of the Cold War.
Not really my thing. I never did really get to the bottom of whatever was going on or why. It all seemed rather pointless.
Terry Foster
I loved it. A great way to present an exciting adventure.
To be honest, this book was far outside the box of what I usually read. It was recommended by some literary critic on a list of 101 books to read. It was quite the page turner, but I admit to skimming quite a few parts just so I could see what happens at the end. The point of view switched multiple times throughout: first person narrative, diaries, debriefings, transcribed interviews, etc, which was interesting but I think kept me from really knowing or liking any of the characters. Like the sta...more
Enjoyed it very much and went through it in a hurry, the love story seemed tacked-on as it did in The Tears of Autumn though.
Definitely one of the more interesting spy novels I've ever read. It's got suspense and intrigue that keep you guessing until the final pages (and aren't really revealed in the conclusion). It's got a memorable cast of characters that are well-sketched. If I have one beef with the book, it's the "dossier" style of compiled transcripts which kind of slowed Things down too often and worked against the suspense. Still a very good book though and I look forward to delving into the author's Paul Chri...more
Jul 16, 2013 Geoffrey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys Cold War espionage
Shelves: thrillers
This spy story was written by Charles McCarry in 1973, his first book in the Paul Christopher series. Drawing from his experience with the CIA, McCarry weaves a very clever tale of espionage concerning a potential Polish spy. It is told through intelligence communications, mostly by various characters directly involved in the story. This gives the story a tremendous amount of authenticity, especially for Cold War tradecraft. Very enjoyable (despite an enormous amount of typos; many more than in...more
A classic espionage tale told through transcripts of surreptitiously recorded conversations, diplomatic dispatches, reports from field agents, debriefings, and dead-dropped letters. But it is not only a classic Cold War spy novel, but also a classic road trip story, as we follow the handful of known or suspected government agents over land and sea from Switzerland to the Sudan. Funny, erudite, and ringing with truth and authenticity. Recommended.
Yash Desai
This is a unique way of telling a story - through letters and entries in Government dossiers. However, the novelty quickly wears off as the story meanders along, never completely picking up. Enjoyable in parts, but the ending leaves a lot of unanswered questions in the reader's mind. While some may like this sort of an ending where the reader is left to assume what exactly happens, I personally prefer my book to have a proper closure.
McCarry was compared to some of the greatest (espionage) story tellers of our time and I wondered if that was possible. After reading "Miernik", I concur. He tells a gripping tale and presents characters that are the epitome of their environments and times. His descriptions of the "spies" their tradecraft and tools are timeless and the story flows with adventure. This will be a book I definitely visit with again some years from now.
Charles McCarry is criminally underrated. This is an early Paul Christopher entry, and is a wonderful Rashomon-style spy drama. There are some gaps in plot, but the "dossier" approach is both great fun and an interesting commentary on how fractured knowledge is within the clandestine services. The ending is just weak enough to leave you frustrated, but it holds true to its ambivalence throughout.
I think this is McCarry's most famous novel, about a guy who manages to look guilty on every conceivable level but turns out not to be. It's plausible up to a point, but by the end it got difficult to swallow: of course a guy who was not a spy would sneak out into the desert in the dead of night to transmit coded messages! How could people not realize there was a perfectly innocent explanation?
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McCarry served in the United States Army, where he was a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, has been a small-town newspaperman, and was a speechwriter in the Eisenhower administration. From 1958 to 1967 he worked for the CIA, under deep cover in Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, his cover was not as a writer or journalist. He is married with four grown sons. His family is from The Berkshires ar...more
More about Charles McCarry...
The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2) The Last Supper (Paul Christopher #5) Old Boys (Paul Christopher #9) The Shanghai Factor Christopher's Ghosts (Paul Christopher #1o)

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