The Spy Who Stayed Out in the Cold: The Secret Life of FBI Double Agent Robert Hanssen

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9780312287825: The Spy Who Stayed Out in the Cold: The Secret Life of FBI Double Agent Robert Hanssen

Robert Philip Hansen thought he was smarter than the system. For decades, the quirky but respected counterintelligence expert, religious family man, and father of six, sold top secret information to agents of the Soviet Union and Russia. A self-taught computer expert, Hansen often encrypted his stolen files on wafer-thin disks. The data-some 6000 pages of highly classified documents-revealed precious nuclear secrets, outlined American espionage initiatives, and named names of agents-spies who covertly worked for both sides.

Soviet government leaders, and their successors in the Russian Federation, used the stolen information to undermine U.S. policies and to eliminate spies in their own ranks. Moscow did not allow their moles the luxury of a defense: at least two men named by Hanssen were executed; a third languished for years in a Siberian hard labor camp.

For more than twenty years, Bob Hanssen was the perfect spy. He personally collected at least $600,000 from his Russian handlers while another $800,000 was deposited in his name at a Moscow bank. Along with the cash came Rolex watches and cut diamonds. The money financed both his children's education at schools run by the elite and ultra-conservative Catholic organization, Opus Dei, and an inexplicably strange fling with a former Ohio "stripper of the year."

But he didn't just do it for the money; he did it for the thrill and for a mysterious third reason rooted in religious mysticism. He lacked the people skills to play office politics, and it seemed the aging FBI analyst faced a disappointing career mired in middle management. Instead, he chose to become one of the most dangerous spies in America's history. And no one suspected him until just weeks before his arrest.

Robert Philip Hanssen thought he was smarter than the system. And until February 18, 2001, he was right. That's when federal agents surrounded him while he was attempting to complete an exchange with his handlers at a Virginia park. When the G-men captured their mark, they catapulted the once innocuous bureaucrat onto the front pages of every newspaper in America. The most notorious spy since the Rosenbergs had finally become a victim of his own undoing.

Now, drawing on more than 100 interviews with Bob Hanssen's friends, colleagues, coworkers, and family members, and confidential sources, best-selling author Adrian Havill tells the entire story you haven't read as only he can. The Spy Who Stayed Out in the Cold tells not only how he did it, but why.

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Review:

While the term double agent implies contradiction, Adrian Havill's portrait of spymaster Robert Hanssen reveals a man truly driven by opposing demons. Hanssen was a consummate loner, "Walter Mitty squared," yet he approached the Soviets himself in quest of the thrill-filled life of a double agent. A staunch conservative and strict Catholic, he took money from communists--to give diamonds and Mercedes to strippers on one hand, and to send his six children to expensive Catholic schools on the other. Havill, a seasoned chronicler of criminals and celebrities, creates a taut and troubling portrait of a disturbed man who compromised the security of a nation. He also gives an inside look into the oft-inept FBI, the National Security Agency's futuristic surveillance systems, and the spy-versus-spy world of Russian intelligence. --Lesley Reed

About the Author:

Adrian Havill is the author of While Innocents Slept and The Mother, The Son, And the Socialite: The True Story of a Mother-Son Crime. He has also written several biographies, including The Last Mogul: The Unauthorized Biography of Jack Kent Cooke, Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Man of Steel: The Career and Courage of Christopher Reeve, and contributed to Juice: The O.J. Simpson Tragedy. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Georgiana. They have two children.

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