The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell

Title:                      The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell

Author:                 Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit (2016). The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets. New York, NY: New American Library

LCCN:    2016012584

JK468.I6

Summary

  • “The thrilling, true-life account of the FBI’s hunt for the ingenious traitor Brian Regan–known as The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell. Before Edward Snowden’s infamous data breach, the largest theft of government secrets was committed by an ingenious traitor whose intricate espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his dyslexia. His name is Brian Regan, but he came to be known as The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell. In December of 2000, FBI Special Agent Steven Carr of the bureau’s Washington, D.C., office received a package from FBI New York: a series of coded letters from an anonymous sender to the Libyan consulate, offering to sell classified United States intelligence. The offer, and the threat, were all too real. A self-proclaimed CIA analyst with top secret clearance had information about U.S. reconnaissance satellites, air defense systems, weapons depots, munitions factories, and underground bunkers throughout the Middle East. Rooting out the traitor would not be easy, but certain clues suggested a government agent with a military background, a family, and a dire need for money. Leading a diligent team of investigators and code breakers, Carr spent years hunting down a dangerous spy and his cache of stolen secrets. In this fast-paced true-life spy thriller, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reveals how the FBI unraveled Regan’s strange web of codes to build a case against a man who nearly collapsed America’s military security”– Provided by publisher.
  • “Before Edward Snowden’s infamous data breach, the largest theft of government secrets was committed by an ingenious traitor whose intricate espionage scheme and complex system of coded messages were made even more baffling by his dyslexia. His name is Brian Regan, but he came to be known as the “Spy Who Couldn’t Spell.” In December 2000,] FBI special agent Steven Carr of the bureau’s Washington, D.C, office received a package from FBI New York: a series of coded letters offering to sell classified United States intelligence from an anonymous sender to the Libyan consulate. The offer and the threat were all too real. A self-proclaimed CIA analyst with top secret clearance had information about US reconnaissance satellites, air defense systems, weapons depots, munitions factories, and underground bunkers throughout the Middle East. Routing out the traitor would not be easy, but certain clues suggested a government agent with a military background, a family, and a dire need for money. Leading a diligent team of investigators and code breakers, Carr spent years hunting down a dangerous spy and his cache of stolen secrets. In this fast-paced, true-life spy thriller, Yudhijit Bhattacharjee reveals how the FBI unraveled Regan’s strange web of codes to build a case against a man who nearly collapsed America’s military security”– Provided by publisher.

Subjects

Date Posted:      October 6, 2016

Reviewed by Kai Bird[1]

The story of the FBI’s hunt for the traitor Brian Regan. Before Edward Snowden, the largest theft of government secrets was committed by a traitor whose intricate espionage schemes and complex systems of coded messages came to confuse even him, supposedly because he was dyslexic.

Bhattacharjee reveals how the FBI unraveled Regan’s strange web of codes to build a case against a man who nearly collapsed America’s military security.

“Brian Regan was an all too human spy, a trailblazer in the digital age—a mole who managed to squirrel away thousands of classified documents—and a brilliant, dyslexic cryptologist who was caught in part because he couldn’t spell.”

[1] Kai Bird in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, p. 138). Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist. He is now working on a biography of President Jimmy Carter’s White House years, under contract to Crown books (Random House). His most recent book, The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, was a New York Times best-seller. He chronicled his childhood in the Middle East in his memoir, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis–which was a Finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He is the acclaimed author of biographies of John J. McCloy, McGeorge Bundy, and William Bundy. He won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006 for American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin). His work includes critical writings on the Vietnam War, Hiroshima, Nuclear weapons, the Cold War, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the CIA. Bird and Sherwin also won the National Books Critics Circle Award and the Duff Cooper Prize for History. He is an elected member of the prestigious Society of American Historians. Kai Bird lives in Miami Beach with his wife Susan Goldmark.

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