Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Spy Who Couldn't Spell

As I mentioned in my recent blog, I do read books I receive as gifts and try to read books that have been recommended to me. There are so many books out there and so little time.

In March 2013, I wrote a blog about Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. The author, Erin Sankovitch, mentions that she learns something from each book. I find that true also.  In my recent blog, I mentioned that I learned about forensic anthropology, websleuthing, and life and death on Mount Everest in Kathy Reichs books.

We may learn more from non-fiction books, than from fiction, but both can teach us things we don’t know.

I decided to write about another book, non-fiction this time, that I received as a gift recently. Yudhijit Brattacharjee’s The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell, about "a dyslexic traitor, an unbreakable code, and the FBI’s hunt for America’s stolen secrets."

My friend assured me I would enjoy the book and she was right.

It was rewarding to see the various intelligence agencies working together to catch this spy.

I was lost reading a lot of the information about secret codes, in which I have little interest. You might find that challenging.

I did find myself wanting to learn more about this spy who was dyslexic, but had a credible military career and then worked his way up in the intelligence community. He was able to view highly classified information, use secret codes that were difficult to break and hide classified documents that threatened America’s security.

This was the largest theft of government documents before Edward Snowden’s data breach.

The book has us follow the successes and frustrations of those who are trying to catch this mole, who they can tell has top secret clearance. But, besides catching him, they need enough evidence that will hold up in court. Even after the capture and conviction, the agencies still had to find the hidden documents.

The author also helps us understand what motivated this spy who couldn’t spell. He was a family man, active in the community, with a good military record. Bullied as a child, able to overcome handicaps because of his dyslexia, and underestimated, he…..

Oops, I don’t want to give away too much. If you are interested in espionage, government agencies or just learning new information, I think you will enjoy this book. 


  1. Good post, Jo. As you probably know, I might have some interest in things like intelligence agencies, so now I'm fairly curious about the Spy Who Couldn't Spell. I might have to look into that one. Thanks!

    1. You are welcome Mike. It was very good. I still have my copy if you want to borrow it.


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