The Spike

Title:                      The Spike

Author:                 Arnaud de Borchgrave

de Borchgrave, Arnaud (1980) and Robert Moss. The Spike. New York : Crown Publishers

LCCN:    79025705

PR6054.E27 S68 1980

Date Posted:      May 5, 2015


De Borchgrave and Moss are, respectively, senior editor of Newsweek and editor of The Economist (London), and they seem genuinely worried in this tale of a reporter’s efforts to expose the deep entrenchment of Soviet misinformation-spreaders in Congress and the U.S. press. But whether or not a reader shares the authors’ Red panic, their story moves with gripping detail and conviction. Their hero is young Bob Hockney, son of a U.S. admiral, who begins as a campus radical at Berkeley, gets hired as a reporter by Barricades, then wins a job with the Washington World and is sent to Saigon—where he’s sucked under the wing of a French news service chief, an unwilling agent of “Directorate A,” the KGB group devoted to planting misinformation in our leading journals and converting Congressmen into pacifist dupes. Hockney is guided by his French friend into information setups and stories that escalate U.S. anti-war sentiment, win him his first Pulitzer, and lead to LBJ’s bow-out. But years later, after the death of his movie-actress girlfriend, a glamorous radical who is kidnapped and brainwashed into being a Patty-Hearst terrorist, Hockney’s eyes are opened by an ex-director of the CIA and he takes a year off to write an in-depth exposé of Directorate A’s activities. But his piece is spiked (killed) by the World, which has its own Soviet dupes in top slots. Throughout the novel we also follow the activities of Barisov, the leading agent for Directorate A who was originally responsible for Hockney’s big stories in Vietnam. And the novel’s two strands converge when Hockney persuades Barisov to defect and gets him up before a Senate investigating committee led by spirited Shamus O’Reilly (read Senator Patrick Moynihan)—Barisov’s testimony results in the exposure of over 1400 spies and dupes in Congress and the press. Exaggerated scare stuff? Perhaps. But de Borchgrave and Moss dramatize the undermining of the press with restraint and an aura of authenticity—and, even if this novel may not succeed in dynamiting what the authors see as complacent U.S. pacifism, it provides a strong, textured narrative for those who prefer suspense fiction that echoes the headlines and explores issues worth arguing about.

[1] Kirkus (Downloaded May 5, 2015)

Command Decision

Title:                      Command Decision

Author:                 William Wister Haines

Haines, William Wister (1947). Command Decision. Boston, Little, Brown

LCCN:    47030044

PZ3.H1277 Co


  • “First edition.”

Date Posted:      May 5, 2015


This is an exciting book. I hope it won’t fall before the hurdle of public reluctance to read war books, for it is a war book. That must be faced. But it is more than that—it is a book about man’s passions and angers and ambitions and fears; a book about big decisions under fire of public opinion and political pressure; it is a book that will cause discomfort among the big brass in high places, but will hearten the public that wonders whether man who make the split second decisions can stand up against the top rank pressure, vacillation and uncertainties. Haines writes well; Slim and High Tension were unique among industrial novels. He has a sense of drama, an ability to make his characters three dimensional, whether he is writing of Brigadier General Dennis, commander of a division of heavy bombers at the time that invasion of Germany meant extension beyond fighter cover, and while daylight precision bombing was still in question; or of General Kane, who ducked responsibility and picked his way gingerly between courageous backing of Dennis and palliative measures before visiting Congressmen; or of Dennis’ office Sergeant, Evans, or McGinnis who doubled for Evans in emergencies. The book will assuredly be discussed; there’s plenty of guessing as to who served as models. And eventually, the Jed Harris’ production of a play based on the novel will give it wider audiences. To the men who served with the Air Force, Haines’ intimate knowledge of his subject will be welcome relief after much of the second hand fictional material handed out.

[1] Kirkus Reviews (downloaded May 5, 2015)