The Chancellor Manuscript

Title:                  The Chancellor Manuscript

Author:                 Robert Ludlum

Ludlum, Robert (1977). The Chancellor Manuscript. New York: Dial Press

LCCN:    76057768

PZ4.L9455 Ch

Date Updated:  June 17, 2015

Ludlum’s book is by an author about an author, a particularly successful author, Peter Chancellor. Chancellor becomes a successful novelist after his thesis is rejected by the supervisory committee. His novels, though works of fiction, portray the happening of certain events that may not have happened the way the people believe they did.

A group of highly intellectual people known as “Inver Brass”, see a threat to the United States when they discover that John Edgar Hoover, the director of FBI is using scandal-ridden private files as leverage. Hoover has compiled 1000 dossiers on the most influential people in the USA. The group decides to get rid of Hoover and recover the files.

To carry out their plan the Inver Brass hire Varak,  a professional working with NSA. Hoover is eliminated, however, not all the dossiers are recovered, since someone else got to them first. The question is who has the dossiers that could have a devastating effect on the country’s future. The group sets out to find who has Hoover’s files.

One does not approach Washington’s elite with indelicate questions. The group decide to use Chancellor for their purposes, since his profession of a novelist provides him with a natural cover. Chancellor, on the other hand, is not the novelist he once was. After suffering a terrible accident and losing his fiancé, he is leading a broken life. But when Varak, posing as a FBI agent, approaches Chancellor and hints the possibility that Hoover (who is thought to have died from a heart attack) may have been assassinated, the writer inside Peter awakens from a state of dormancy. Varak also feeds him with the information that the “scandal ridden dossiers” collected by Hoover are missing.

Peter decides to write a book on the last year of Hoover’s life. For this he needs hard facts and to get them he has to delve into the existence of the scandal- ridden dossiers. The plot thickens when a number of people are blackmailed with the information contained in their dossiers compiled by Hoover. By doing so, the blackmailer (who is a voice on the telephone, and reveals he has the dossiers) gains undue advantage, specifically on the political scene in Washington. As a case in point, a journalist questioning the ways by which funds are being raised for the elections, is asked to give away the investigation. If not, certain facts about her will be publicized, ending her career as a journalist.

Peter starts writing his book. His investigation into the existence of the dossiers leads to him to unearth two secrets. First is the mystery behind the massacre of Chasong which took place during the Korean War, and the second is the true identity of the blackmailer. These revelations not only endanger his life but also the lives of the people he cares for.

All Ludlum’s books are excellent mystery/thriller books, and this one especially so. I have enjoyed The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Osterman Weekend, The Rhinemann Exchange, and The Gemini Contenders just as much as this, The Chancellor Manuscript.

The Double Agents

Title:                  The Double Agents

Author:                 W. E. B.Griffith

Griffith, W. E. B. (2007) with Butterworth, William E. IV. The Double Agents .New York: G.P. Putnam’s and Sons

LCCN:    2007011993

PS3557.R489137 D68 2007


Date Updated:  June 18, 2015

In April 1943, Spanish sympathizers discover the body of Major William Martin of the British Royal Marines in waters off the coast of Spain. The remains contain a parcel of letters, both personal and top secret. Unknown to the Spaniards who find the body is its bizarre history prior to the man’s demise. Certifying that the Major carried important papers to the German and Italian war effort, the information is passed to those directly involved. Certain that Allied forces plan a massive attack on Sicilian and Italian shores, Hitler’s generals concentrate troop strength on the Italian front.

W. E. B. Griffin co-authors with his son, William E. Butterworth IV, a sixth Men at War novel, titled The Double Agents. Midway through World War II, the British and American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) devise the elaborate ruse to confuse German planners. Prior to the body’s discovery near Huelva, OSS Major Richard “Dick” Canidy, working out of Algiers, carries out a daring attack on a German supply boat disguised as a fishing vessel. Canidy is the OSS hero from the previous Men at War books. He’s good-looking, the picture of an American playboy type, but hard as rock when called upon by the President for his top-secret mission.

An Italian scientist named Dr. Rossi has proof that the Germans have infected prisoners with Yellow fever. In addition, Canidy has blown up the boat that contains Tuban, a dangerous nerve gas slated for use against the Allies. From Algiers, his mission is to determine if the gas has sunk or burned in the fire. If burned, the gas can cause savage injury and many deaths.

Canidy’s interaction with those under his command in the mission is a fun read. One minute he’s the no-nonsense commander, the next he’s concerned for their safety. Canidy manages a sense of humor underneath the serious planning, plotting and commission of his orders. He works closely with an Italian Mafia native Sicilian to gain access to the Island. Lucky Luciano, from an American prison, has linked the OSS with Frank Nola, the local Mafioso. His contacts on Palermo help Canidy’s plan, but Dick is acutely aware that Nola’s motives may endanger the entire effort. Tubes, a young California surfer, operates the radio equipment necessary to their success and survival.

Meanwhile, Griffin and his son develop numerous chapters about the dead Major Martin’s identity. Based on the fact that David Niven, Peter Ustinov and Ian Fleming served as officers in the British military services, the authors write a hilarious scenario whereby these famous men, along with OSS Lt. Charity Hoche and others, craft a cadaver’s identity. The Hollywood personalities, complete with alcoholic tendencies, round out a voluminous cast of characters in The Double Agents.

The story is based on a true event – the dead body’s discovery by the enemy. While the majority of Allied troops fought in the deserts of Africa, a covert operation is carried out in Sicily. The history presented in The Double Agents is a reminder that war is horrific theater. Without dedicated agents such as the fictional OSS characters depicted on its pages, novels like this one would merely entertain.

The Saboteurs

Title:                  The Saboteurs

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2006) and William E. Butterworth, IV. The Saboteurs. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    2006043222

PS3557.R489137 S23 2006


Date Updated:  June 18, 2015

The Saboteurs is a compelling story based on real tales from World War II and is dedicated to tthe memories of those who fought there, especially the Marines. W.E.B. Griffin and his son, William E. Butterworth IV, have collaborated on a fast-paced novel about the heroes of World War II, a return to the popular Men at War series. “Wild Bill” Donovan is the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and has the job of networking his agents to the best of their abilities. The action moves around the world, in chronological order of events, from Sicily, London, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, New York and Algiers. Major Richard M. Canidy is the first agent Donovan has to reign in from overzealous proceedings in his recent past. Canidy went solo on a mission to Hungary and now must face the consequences for his rogue actions.

Timing is important in February 1943. German U-boats have sneaked into Atlantic waters, wrecking havoc close to American shores. Highly trained, Hitler’s SS units have been successful in landing agents in the United States to detonate bombs in areas of high civilian concentration. These enemy saboteurs will make their presence known and instill fear in the public. Canidy, his boyhood friend Eric Fulmar, and agent Stan Fine have been called in by Donovan to locate and eliminate the suspected saboteurs. Canidy’s summons, however, carries the undertone of rebuke for his Hungarian escapade. Canidy fully expects to be assigned a desk or, worse, to be fired. But Donovan has a different agenda for his rogue agent.

The authors profile real personalities of the times, alongside their fictional agents, to bring the reader directly into the story. The well-documented rivalry between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the OSS office is on display in The Saboteurs. Hoover soft-pedals the explosions on American soil to contain terror in the public. Hoover’s harassment of citizens with possible anti-government sympathies is played against the tactics of the OSS, a direct-action approach. An FBI agent suffers embarrassment by Fulmar’s superior physical ability in one comical scene.

Canidy’s assignment is to invade German-occupied Sicily and to evacuate a scientist, Dr. Rossi, whose life is in danger. The doctor’s colleagues have been infected and murdered with a deadly Yellow Fever virus. Before Rossi is deposed likewise, his brilliant mind can be used against the Germans; he has knowledge about developments in atomic fission.

Canidy finds himself aboard a vessel owned and navigated by mobsters from New Jersey, fishmongers who conceal illegal activity by legitimate business on the Atlantic loading docks. These Mafia personalities are well-developed characters and do elicit sympathy during the read. The mob’s heyday is colorfully drawn, with historical accuracies about well-known, incarcerated mobster leaders. Canidy is at their mercy in order to land successfully on Sicilian shores.


The Fighting Agents

Title:                  The Fighting Agents

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

LCCN:    99051764

PS3557.R489137 F54 2000


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

The Fighting Agents takes place in The Philippines, 1943. As the ragged remnants of the American forces stand against the might of the Imperial Japanese Army, a determined cadre of OSS agents becomes their only contact with the outside world-and their only hope for survival.

General Douglas McArthur declared after the fall of the Philippines in 1943 that there were no guerrillas in the Philippines. However, Wendell Fertig, a U.S. Army officer who refused to leave, knew better. Fertig promoted himself to general and led a guerrilla force against the Japanese. This time, however, Griffin focuses his attention on the OSS, which, among other things, was tasked with resupplying Fertig and bestselling reinforcing his efforts to undermine the Japanese war machine. This fourth volume of the Men at War series features the American intelligence service during World War II. James Whittaker, a rakish, romantic army air corps captain, who happens to be a close family friend of OSS chief Wild Bill Donovan, is assigned to sneak into the Philippines by submarine and bring gold, arms, and war materiel to the renegade general.

Simultaneously, another OSS team tries to carry out a critical mission: getting a German atomic scientist out of Budapest and into allied hands before Hitler’s armies can perfect and unleash the weapon that could win the war for the Axis powers. And in Cairo, a quiet, unassuming pilot named Darmstadter is drafted by the OSS for another highly unlikely mission. Griffin spices up his realistically drawn scenes of military operations, weapons, and training with a somewhat improbable love story focusing on Whittaker and a female OSS operative, but one suspects it’s merely a ruse to draw in women readers. Still, the action ranges from Washington to California, Egypt to London, and all points in between, and Griffin’s knowledge of military hearts, minds, and missions has won him a devoted following. I have lost track of how many Griffin books I have read.

The Last Heroes

Title:                  The Last Heroes

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin,

Griffin, W. E. B. (1985). The Last Heroes. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    96039458

PS3557.R489137 L3 1997



  • Originally published under the pseudonym Alex Baldwin.

Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

In mid-1941, fun-loving Richard Canidy and straight-arrow Edwin Bitter are hotshot pilot instructors at the Navy’s air station in Pensacola. With minimal prompting, they soon volunteer to serve with the so-called Flying Tigers. Before heading off (on a slow boat) to China, however, these two well-connected friends find time to join the social whirl in Washington, where crafty FDR has detailed Wild Bill Donovan to create an Office of Strategic Services. Shortly after arriving in Southeast Asia, Dick becomes an ace, downing five Japanese planes in a single sortie. The very same day, he’s whisked away on orders from the White House. Meantime, the US (now at war against the Axis powers) plans to build an atomic bomb but lacks a secure source of uraninite. Which is where Dick comes in. His prep-school chum Eric Fulmar (the son of an American film actress and a German industrialist) is dodging the draft boards of both nations by hiding out in North Africa. Operating under cover from the US Embassy in Morocco, Dick is to enlist the aid of Fulmar in abducting a French mining engineer with badly needed information on a vital ore cache in the Belgian Congo. To make the mission more challenging, the amateur agents must carry out their assignment on a split-second schedule (to make an offshore rendezvous with a submarine) and get their man away without arousing the suspicions of either the Nazi or Vichy forces controlling the Maghreb coast.

Special Ops

Title:                  Special Ops

Author:                W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin,W. E. B (2001). Special Ops. New York: Jove Books

LCCN     00062779

PS3557.R489137 S6 2001


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

This is the last book in the Brotherhood of War series Griffin has written. He wrote it after a short hiatus to work on some of his other series. It brings back the hard-hitting characters and unbeatable action that have made this series an enduring military series.


Bestselling author W.E.B. Griffin, whose novels about various branches of the military have won him battalions of fans, returns to the Brotherhood of War series with this crackling yarn. A detachment of Special Forces hotshots teams up with presidential counselor Sandy Felter to put a stop to Che Guevara’s attempts to “liberate” the Congo from President Joseph Mobutu’s anticommunist government.

Under Felter’s direction, the Green Berets dispatch a special detachment to the Congo. Their mission is to convince Mobutu of the wisdom of the American plan to discredit and humiliate Che and his Cuban troops, rather than martyr him, and thus bring an end to his plan to export Castro-style communism to Africa and South America. Repelling the Simba insurgents with help from forces led by South African mercenary Mike Hoare, Mobutu accepts the plan, along with the Green Beret’s covert assistance, war materiel, and a fighting force manned by many of the characters who peopled The Aviators, Griffin’s last Brotherhood adventure. Yes, fans, the good guys are back–especially flying ace Jack Portet, (a pilot drafted into the army right out of Leopoldville, where he was helping his father run a regional airline), George Washington “Father” Lunsford, and Master Sergeant “Doubting” Thomas. And a lot of them are black, a talented crew of African American airmen and specialists pressed into the Special Forces not just because they’re brave and able but because they can pass as Congolese soldiers and thereby keep the American presence under wraps.

As a matter of historical fact Guevara failed badly in the Congo, and after retreating to Cuba, tried the same gambit in Bolivia, where he eventually died under fire and gained the martyrdom the U.S. tried so hard to prevent. But Special Ops offers a close-up look at a little-known piece of military history in a gloriously testosterone-pumped epic, seasoned with a touch of sex and romance. That may seem incongruous, given Griffin’s clipped, terse writing style, which is punctuated with plenty of military dispatches and a few gratuitous growls at the internecine rivalry among American intelligence agencies. It’s even more incongruous when the general’s daughter gets the flying ace, and her father’s highly placed friends not only get Portet an officer’s stripes but fly her to the Congo to stand by her man. But none of that will stop Griffin’s delighted readers from snapping up his latest chronicle of men at war

It is November, 1964 and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara enters the Congo with two hundred men, intent on taking his first step toward world revolution. In response, a select group of Green Berets is dispatched to stop Guevara’s attempted takeover of the anti-Communist government. Working covertly with the Congolese army and mercenaries, Colonel Craig Lowell and his Special Forces team must run a razor-thin line to assure Guevara’s military defeat, and prevent him from being martyred in death.


The Shooters

Title:                  The Shooters

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2008).The Shooters. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2007038587

PS3557.R489137 S47 2008


Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

Griffin’s book is a great story but it is also revealing of how declared agents and illegals operate for spying. Illegals are professional intelligence personnel who are deployed in another country under some kind of cover. They may be assigned as military attaches, but actually function as spies.  Griffin’s story illustrates how illegals may operate in the interest of their country within another country. If they aree caught out they have no protection whatsoever.

In this book a DEA agent is reported captured by drug dealers in Argentina. A young lieutenant in the U.S. Army, stationed at the U.S. Embassy learns of the kidnapping and wants to help his friend. He is also aware of “black ops” carried out by Delta Force officer Charley Castillo and endeavors to contact hm.

Castillo wants to help but recognizes that he could never get clearance from the State Department to carry out a rescue in a South American country. He does find, however, that the DEA agent has powerful political connections in Chicago, and the President himself authorizes Castillo to do whate4ver it takes to bring back the agent.

This book certainly gives a valid picture of Illegals vs. declared operatives; black ops vs. cooperation; intelligence work in general, and the conflict between intelligence agents and policy makers.

Actually, I own the Jove Books edition, the paperback.