Title: The Rope Dancer
Author: Victor Marchetti
Marchetti, Victor (1971). The Rope Dancer. New York: Grosset & Dunlap
Date Posted: November 22, 2016
Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).
Reviewed by Newgate Callendar
The Rope‐Dancer by Vic tor Marchetti is all about the C.I.A. (called N.I.A. in the book). Marchetti worked in the Central Intelligence Agency for 14 years, serving the high brass and himself achieving high rank there. Naturally, he is not going to give away any secrets. (Guys go to jail for that.) Instead he has written a book that explores the mind of a spy.
Why does an American in high place suddenly go over to the Russians? In the process of this psychological exegesis, there is a good deal about the administrative workings of the Agency. There also are some remarks about the White House and the cute games a certain President with a Texas accent plays. (The author has no admiration for this President.) The story‐line is rather far fetched. Marchetti is not a very good writer, and he fails to make a convincing case for his protagonist. When it’s all over, the reader will not learn much about the Agency that he had not previously known.
 On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]