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A Geography of Secrets
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A Geography of Secrets

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Two men: One discovers the cost of keeping secrets, of building a career within a government agency where secrets are the operational basis. Noel Leonard works for the Defense Intelligence Agency, mapping coordinates for military actions halfway around the world. One morning he learns that an error in his office is responsible for the bombing of a school in Pakistan. And h...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Unbridled Books (first published September 1st 2010)
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Jennifer
From my book review blog Rundpinne.

"A Geography of Secrets by Frederick Reuss is an exquisitely multi-layered work of literary fiction. Reuss captures the essence of human emotions and behaviors in his novel, which on the surface presents as a spy novel and an excellent one at that. Reuss goes so far as to provide the reader with coordinates that when entered into Google Earth allows the reader to geographically follow the story. With a firm look at Washington, D.C., and all that is known and...more
Nancy Oakes
“Secrets don’t keep, they putrefy.”

Two men know very well the truth of this statement. The first is Noel Leonard, whose job at the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center has him plotting precise points for the bombing of terrorist targets. When something goes wrong, and innocent children are killed at a school in Pakistan, he becomes weighted down with guilt. But he has no one to turn to because of the levels of secrecy involved, and it begins to take a toll, not just on Noel, but on his life. Up...more
Kristy
A beautifully written exploration of the effect a lifetime of keeping secrets can have on a person. Told in alternating first person and third person chapters, this book does male mid-life crisis (a genre that I often feel very disconnected from) just right. International in scope, but centered in Washington D.C., this is a solid character study with a universal feel. Best of all, it has a wonderful structure, made even more perfect by the narrative shift on the last page.
Doug
Very thought-provoking study of character and of the nature of secrets, telling or not telling things to others. It reminded me of seeing an absorbing foreign movie in which nothing much really happens, but you've been drawn in intellectually and emotionally. One of the two main characters seemed a bit cartoonish to me, but this was not enough to spoil the pleasures of the prose and the overall intelligence of this quiet, thoughtful book.
Wendy Hines
Have you ever read a book that gives you the GPS coordinates at the beginning of each chapter? Well, I haven't until now. It is really neat plugging the numbers into Google Earth and seeing the places discussed in the novel.

The narrator, never named, goes home to his father's funeral in Switzerland. He's not seen his father in many years, but enjoys talking to the neighbors and friends his father made after his retirement. The cartographer, the narrator, was the son of a career diplomat and spen...more
W.
Unlike the powerful characters in the typical novel set in Washington, Fred Reuss's character Noel Leonard in "A Geography of Secrets" works in a windowless office in the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center. One morning he learns that an error in mapping coordinates for military action has led to the bombing of a school in Afghanistan. Of course, Noel cannot talk about this and must keep it to himself. Like the powerful, his life is a web of secrets.

As the military expands its intelligence role...more
Jeffrey Otto
Not to be Confused with a Spy Novel

Noel Leonard is a fictional everyman; the product of a middle-aged author dealing with the loss of his father and the angst of not knowing his place in the world. He obsesses over his game of golf, dutifully attends weekly mass, and fantasizes about the symbols of status he does not possess. His stoic reserve, a familiar literary trope of the American family man, is the bedrock of his existence. He leads his life solely in the present, never burdened by his pas...more
Michelle
Life is all about secrets, the ones we keep from others and the ones we keep from ourselves. Written as separate but parallel stories, A Geography of Secrets explores these secrets and the damage they can do to an individual and to others. Both Noel and the unnamed narrator have family secrets that tear apart their serenity, forcing them to reevaluate everything they ever thought about their lives.

The novel's beauty lies in the synchronicity of the two stories. Both men spend their lives analyzi...more
Julie
This book has two different narrative threads - one told in first person, and the other in third. The characters are not really related to each other, except that they are both somehow connected to the intelligence field and the mapping discipline. The story is filled with vagueness and ambiguity, and seems to lack a clear justification for why certain details are filled in while others are left out. Perhaps this is a metaphor for the narrators' love of maps, but I found it distracting. You neve...more
Susan
As a Washingtonian reading Frederick Reuss's A Geography of Secrets I was aware of how much I miss in a novel like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo when I cannot conjure up the Swedish locale. About half of Reuss's book is set in the DC area, at places like the scenic overlook and East Potomac Park, and the rest, to me and to many other readers, is a mystery. That he brings the two halves together is the writer's work. The novel, which has a heavy Catholic overlay, recounts the struggles of a mapmake...more
Diane
This novel tells the story of two men: one is an intelligence analyst who is questioning his profession in light of significant moral dilemmas that he faces; the other is a man who has lost his father, only to learn that his father's life in 1960s Vietnam wasn't what it appeared to be. The book is in the best tradition of a spy thriller; focused on character development and atmosphere, although it also has a strong plot. The only things I disliked about the book was that the author seemed to hav...more
grundoon
3.5 In many ways a terrific work of human introspection, told effectively in two vaguely connected parallel story lines (one in 1st person, the other not). Yet also for me his least satisfying, perhaps due to the lack of either primary character achieving such. Set mostly in our mutual (for me, childhood) home of D.C., I truly enjoyed being reminded of the local geography, and was jarred to find that our paths may have crossed much earlier than previously known (one scene being set at a tiny cam...more
Ellen
Great insider novel. I swear, one scene was in my friend's back yard.
Christyc
This was not the 'map as existential project' that I was hoping for. I didn't read the back synopsis, rather, the quote at the beginning:

"A map is a sustained attempt upon an unattainable goal, the complete comprehension by an individual of a tract of space that will be individualized into a place by that attempt.", Tim Robinson, 'Interim Reports from Folding Landscapes'

The book, for me, did not live up to that quote.

Also, I don't understand the end where the two men's stories are linked.
Jesse Osborne
Extremely well written and anyone involved in this line of work can see themselves in at least one of the characters. My expectations for the two storylines to intertwine before the story's end led me to be a bit disappointed. Final pages were a bit anticlimactic but was honest and true to the rest of the book.
Barbara Higgins
Since this book deals with intelligence secrets as well as personal secrets, I expected it to be a little more gripping than it was. A good read, but not quite what I expected.
Rachel
I actually couldn't get through the book in its entirety. This wasn't because it was bad. It just wasn't a storyline I was interested in.
Rusty Wright
I enjoyed while I was reading it but when I got to the end I felt like a bit let down. It was like, "all that for ... what?"
Bagpipe
Excellent book. Read it in 2 days which is extremely fast for me, thereby making it a must read.
Max Bankole Jarrett
Yawn. Big Yawn. See my review of Union Atlantic to get my detailed reaction to this novel as well.
Cynthia
This was a well-written novel, but it didn't appeal to me.
Marvis
Interesting book in which two men discover who they really are under the lies we all tell ourselves.
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Frederick Reuss is the acclaimed author of several novels. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and two daughters."
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