Top positive review
If you enjoy cloak-and-dagger spy thrillers, you’ll enjoy this true story.
Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2018
If I hadn’t know that SPY: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE FBI’S ROBERT HANSSEN BETRAYED AMERICA was based on a true story, I would have said that David Wise had written a wild and improbable cloak-and-dagger fiction novel. A story so wild and improbable that it was beyond belief and somewhat laughable. The fact that it is a true story makes it AMAZING. If you enjoy cloak-and-dagger spy thrillers, you’ll enjoy this true story.
Robert Hanssen is a former Chicago policeman and the son of a Chicago policeman who rose through the ranks of the FBI to a senior position in the FBI with access to the most sensitive intelligence information about US vs. Russia activities. For 22 years, Robert Hanssen divulged these FBI / CIA / NSA secrets to Russia that resulted in death to US spies and did considerable damage to US security.
Robert Hanssen is an enigma. He is a family man, a staunch neoconservative Republican, an anti-Communist, a devout Catholic (Opus Dei) who opposed homosexuality and abortion. He would be the last person you would suspect of being a Russian spy. Although the FBI had clues, the FBI couldn’t accept the fact that one of their own could be a traitor so Hanssen avoided detection for 22 years.
The book shows another side of Robert Hanssen as a man who patronized strip clubs and brothels and was a sugar daddy to a stripper. Hanssen was so sexually deviant that he shared nude photos of his wife with his friend and allowed his friend to secretly view him having sex with his wife.
Despite Robert Hanssen’s moral shortcoming, the fact that he spied for Russia for 22 years is completely contrary to all that he politically and religiously espoused throughout his adult life. Nevertheless, Hanssen was able and willing to commit treason for money and the flattery that Russia heaped on him for being such a clever spy.
Amazingly, SPY: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE FBI’S ROBERT HANSSEN BETRAYED AMERICA points out that during this time, Robert Hanssen was not the only Russian spy that had infiltrated US intelligence agencies. There was Aldrich Ames, John Anthony Walker, Ronald Pelton, Earl Pitts, etc. During the time that Hanssen was a mole for Russia, the frequency and number of Russian moles who infiltrated US intelligence agencies was astoundingly high. There seemed to be so many Russian moles that US intelligence was playing a never ending game of whack-a-mole.
I don’t know if things have really changed at the FBI and CIA, but SPY: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE FBI’S ROBERT HANSSEN BETRAYED AMERICA highlighted problems within those agencies that contributed to Hanssen’s ability to spy for Russia for 22 years.