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Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy
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Betrayal: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  227 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The inside story of the biggest molehunt in the history of American intelligence: the search for and discovery by three New York Times journalists of Aldrich Ames, who was paid by the Soviets for years to spy in America. 16 pages of photos. Index.
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published June 6th 1995 by Random House
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Alyssa Weinberger
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best of its kind. If you love the works of John LeCarré, consider this a real life version.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: espionage
Ames routinely assisted another CIA office that assessed Soviet embassy officials as potential intelligence assets. As part of this responsibility, and with the knowledge of both the CIA and the FBI, Ames began making contacts within the Soviet Embassy. In April 1985, Ames provided information to the Soviets that he believed was "essentially valueless" but would establish his credentials as a CIA insider. He also asked for $50,000, which the Soviets quickly paid.[15] Ames later claimed that he ...more
Marti Martinson
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Engaging, compelling, and riveting. That's why I read it in less than 2 full days. For a book with 3 authors, I thought it was "seamless": there were no sections written drastically different. What angered me was the fact that I had a Top Secret/Codeword clearance for 24 years and the jackasses before me were getting drunk AT WORK and even missing report deadlines. That shit didn't go down at the offices where I was assigned. I was just an administrative, contractor drone in Sector 7G, but I ...more
Philip VanDyke
Interesting and Saddening

Having watched the Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen cases break and play out via the news, I read this book and "The Bureau and The Mole" to try to gain more understanding of the damage done to our national security. I hope both agencies have learned better how to look for and spot spies and similar security risks.
Chad Montabon
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Better than the other book I read by this auther, more compelling. The story is amazingly bland considering it is about high treason.

The telling of a bland story with a fascinating backdrop could go either way, but I found myself lookinf forward to picking this book up and each new chapter of the idiocy of Ames and the CIA's failure to audit itself is gauling.
Great book about the biggest insider in Agency history. I appreciate the author's refusal to add "anonymous" source data to this book. I felt the end was a bit of a let-down. It just seemed to dry up.

All said, it was a great read.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read...

Mr. Weiner provides another winner! Very well written, with a coherent plotline. Well researched and very engaging, as are all his books.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I remember the case well .... I was aghast when it surfaced, and taken in by its size. This is a good story extremely well told.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Aldrich Ames was an American spy who turned traitor and served the USSR from deep inside his position inside the CIA headquarters in Washington DC. He helped the KGB nab the CIA's many Soviet spies who operated from Moscow and many other European capitals. He is billed as the most notorious American spy ever. This book slowly takes you through the nine years during which Ames met with his Soviet KGB handlers in DC, Bogota and Rome and supplied them with the names of Soviet spies who operated for ...more
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one sitting. I could not put the damn thing down, it was that good. This is one of those rare books on modern intelligence operations that gets everything right- the authors made a decisive choice to not use the ubiquitous 'anonymous sourcing' so common to the genre... All quotes are on the record and the reporting is in depth and well researched. Just an excellent book, and a fantastic guide to late-Soviet period Soviet intelligence operations in the United States. Although ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
A readable account of the Ames espionage case. A better book than Pete Earley's Confessions of a Spy, in my opinion, despite Earley's putative unprecedented "access" to Ames. Lots of repetition across the books, however, so if you want to read an Ames book, just pick one and go with it. Neither book is as engaging as another "American spy"/counterintelligence non-fiction book--David Wise's The Spy Who Got Away, in which Wise recounts the story of Edward Lee Howard, the former CIA officer who ...more
J.M. Lanham
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book sheds light on one of the most notorious American spies of the Cold War era, taking readers through the true-life rise and downfall of a mild-mannered CIA operative who sold out his country for years before being discovered. The book's authors do an excellent job of compiling the facts and presenting them in an exciting and engaging way, while wrapping things up (keep in mind, this was a true story) with an ending that left me feeling uneasy about the security of our intelligence ...more
Peter L
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 Writers Tell the Tale of Russia's Spy in the CIA

This is the 2nd book I have read about A. Ames ( Also saw a movie dealing with how he was unmasked) & if you put the 2 books together a full picture emerges of a spy that should have been found out years before, when he gave the KGB the names of those Russians spying for the USA ( See "The Billion Dollar Spy"). This book focuses equally, in my opinion, on how he was discovered & the CIA/FBI as well as on Ames himself.
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating portrait of an astonishingly pathetic spy and the CIA culture that allowed him to get away with murder for more than a decade. The New York Times authors use a journalistic approach to sources and storytelling that keeps the narrative moving. There's a 'just the facts, mam' sensibility that allows them to cover a great deal of detail very quickly... At least it felt quick to me; I read it in three days, because I couldn't put it down!
Alicia Utter
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiographical
Rate: 5

Interesting topic but not well written. A lot was quickly written without good editing. I think this book was written about ten years before it should have been written--style wise. I felt there was a lot of info they jumped over since there were huge parts missing. A lot left just barely mentioned--like the people who got killed as a result of the information he leaked. Parts were confusing

Giving Away
Pamela Huxtable
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very readable and thorough, but in the end, disappointing. Not the writing or the research, but because Ames himself is such a disappointing, small man. No grand ideology, no cunning spy craft here, just a greedy bumbling traitor. Ames' ineptitude as a spy is surpassed only by the bureaucracy and rivalry between the CIA and the FBI that kept the investigation into Ames' inexplicable wealth from progressing.
Glenn Robinson
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it
A recount of a traitor who deserved to be shot. This book shows how incompetent the CIA was during the 1985-1994 time frame. Every single tell that Ames was spying was held out in the open, yet the CIA chose to make excuses. This book discusses his history, some of the damage done, the bumbling efforts of the CIA and the KGB. Not in depth. 3 stars is generous.
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Why do we read the lives of despicable people? Probably because we want to see what any of us could become given the right circumstances. I can never forgive Aldrich Ames for betraying the U.S. This book reports his crimes exquisitely, although I may have to follow up with the most recent one written in 2012.
Rheanna Christine
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: learn-something
Excellent book, very detailed. It takes some concentration to read because it can get really complicated, with many players and intertwining story lines! But this is an excellent book for spy and history enthusiasts.
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Excellent account of a Cold War spying operation, its discovery and impacts to national security.
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fbi, cia, espionage, spy
A really good story. Well paced. Lots of insight. Amazing that this guy went undetected for so long.
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Tim Weiner reported for The New York Times for many years as a foreign correspondent and as a national security correspondent in Washington, DC. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and the National Book Award for LEGACY OF ASHES: The History of the CIA. His new book, out in July, is ONE MAN AGAINST THE WORLD: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon.