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A Drop of Treason

Philip Agee and His Exposure of the CIA

Jonathan Stevenson



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Chicago University Press
21 May 2021
Philip Agee's story is the stuff of a John le Carre novel-perilous and thrilling adventures around the globe. He joined the CIA as a young idealist, becoming an operations officer in hopes of seeing the world and safeguarding his country. He was the consummate intelligence insider, thoroughly entrenched in the shadow world. But in 1975, he became the first such person to publicly betray the CIA-a pariah whose like was not seen again until Edward Snowden. For almost forty years in exile, he was a thorn in the side of his country.

The first biography of this contentious, legendary man, Jonathan Stevenson's A Drop of Treason is a thorough portrait of Agee and his place in the history of American foreign policy and the intelligence community during the Cold War and beyond. Unlike mere whistleblowers, Agee exposed American spies by publicly blowing their covers. And he didn't stop there-his was a lifelong political struggle that firmly allied him with the social movements of the global left and against the American project itself from the early 1970s on. Stevenson examines Agee's decision to turn, how he sustained it, and how his actions intersected with world events.

Having made profound betrayals and questionable decisions, Agee lived a rollicking, existentially fraught life filled with risk. He traveled the world, enlisted Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his cause, married a ballerina, and fought for what he believed was right. Raised a conservative Jesuit in Tampa, he died a socialist expat in Havana. In A Drop of Treason, Stevenson reveals what made Agee tick-and what made him run.
By:   Jonathan Stevenson
Imprint:   Chicago University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780226356686
ISBN 10:   022635668X
Pages:   328
Publication Date:   21 May 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jonathan Stevenson is senior fellow for U.S. defense and managing editor of Survival at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He was previously professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College, and he has served as director for political-military affairs, Middle East and North Africa, on the National Security Council. He is the author of several books, including Thinking Beyond the Unthinkable: Harnessing Doom from the Cold War to the Age of Terror and We Wrecked the Place Contemplating and End to the Northern Irish Troubles.

Reviews for A Drop of Treason: Philip Agee and His Exposure of the CIA

With A Drop of Treason, Jonathan Stevenson does more than give us a readable, much-needed biography of Philip Agee's wild life, taking us from the lawns of Notre Dame to the streets of Hamburg and the plazas of Havana. By placing Agee's life in the context of the transatlantic left, he illuminates an often-overlooked facet of the Cold War with cloak-and-dagger elan and historical sweep. -- Clay Risen, author of 'The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Riders and the Dawn of the American Century'

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