BOSTON, MA, October 28, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- America--and the swashbuckling OSS operatives who would soon morph into the CIA--had little time to savor the victory of World War II before turning to an even more dangerous adversary. By 1950, an aggressive Soviet Union had become a threatening presence in a world where hardboiled newspaper men drank lunch at Toots Shor's before catching Charlie Parker at Birdland. It's a world--both nostalgic and dangerous--that talented author Jefferson Flanders throws us fully into in The North Building (Munroe Hill Press, paper, $15.50), his new Cold War novel, a sequel to the well-received Herald Square. (The Huffington Post praised Herald Square as "Jimmy Breslin meets John le Carre.")
It's New York City, 1951. Dennis Collins is back from covering the war in Korea and the brutal retreat of the First Marines at Chosin Reservoir. Rattled and worn, the last thing he needs is to be sucked into a world of spies, counterspies, and the leaked military secrets that may have contributed to the Chosin debacle.
"What I found fascinating in researching this novel," says Flanders, a one-time sportswriter and columnist, "is the dismaying lack of attention to the Korean War angle in one of the most celebrated espionage cases of the 20th Century." That would be the infamous Cambridge Five spy ring in which British Intelligence officials--including Donald Maclean and Kim Philby--would later be exposed as Russian operatives. It can be argued, says Flanders, that the actions of Philby and Maclean (who play prominently in The North Building alongside other real-life characters including Allen Dulles and Dwight D. Eisenhower) had a major effect on the Korean War's outcome. U.S. war plans were being passed from Washington to Moscow and then to the Chinese. "Maclean and Philby certainly passed on the knowledge that we'd stop our bombing at the Yalu," says Flanders. "The Chinese may have never entered the war without Soviet access to Washington's inner decision-making."
The novel's titular North Building is the office on the CIA campus where agents out of favor with the powers that be get exiled to ponder their errors. Mistakes--and failures--are a recurrent theme in The North Building, especially as it relates to Collins' love life. Flanders writes movingly about misfires and miscalculations of the heart. The longing for union is palpable. It's one of the novel's many strengths that this taut and heart-racing geopolitical thriller is organically intertwined with a compelling story of second and third chances at love. In the end, The North Building--for all its exploration of the dark corners and moral ambiguities that characterized the Cold War--is a profoundly optimistic story. The West won that struggle--thanks in large part to the strength of character of the men and women Flanders so proficiently writes about.
The Washington Times calls Flanders writing "action-packed and engrossing," which it certainly is. It's also quite smart--reflecting the author's broad mastery of politics, history, literature, and theology. The immediacy in which it throws the reader into the tenor and tone of Cold War America is impressive. The North Building, with its seamless blend of fact and fiction, wrings satisfying clarity from a shadowy world where moral boundaries blur and the line between justice and revenge is easily crossed.
Jefferson Flanders is an author, educator, and independent journalist. During the course of his career, he has been an editor, newspaper columnist, sportswriter, radio commentator, college professor, and publishing executive. A graduate of Harvard College, where he earned a degree in history and literature and studied with the poet Robert Fitzgerald, Flanders continued his education at Columbia University. He is the author of Cafe Carolina and Other Stories and of the critically acclaimed Cold War novel Herald Square.
For more information, please visit www.jeffersonflanders.com
Media contact: Victor Gulotta
Gulotta Communications, Inc.