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National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 43-45.

 

Roth, Holly.  The Content Assignment.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954.

After a career as a fashion model, Holly Roth shifted to a writing career, contributing to newspapers and magazines and then working as an editor with periodicals ranging from Seventeen and Cosmopolitan to the American Journal of Surgery.  His career as a novelist lasted only a dozen years, cut short by her death at age 48.  Over that period, she produced a novel a year, most of them in the espionage or mystery-detective genres.

Although her novels consistently received very complimentary reviews, Roth’s first novel, The Content Assignment, remains her best known and most highly regarded work.  Set in Berlin in the late 1940s, the novel focuses on the romance between a male British journalist and a female C.I.A. operative.  When the woman disappears, the journalist traces her back to America.  He begins to suspect, however, that he has been drawn into his quest and to suspect that he is being set up to participate in some sort of covert and probably illicit operation.  The underlying question is, of course, whether his lover is participating in his manipulation and whether she has ever cared for him as genuinely as he had believed she did.

 

Sapir, Richard, and Warren Murphy.  The Destroyer #2: Death Check.  New York: Pinnacle, 1971.

In the early 1960s, Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy became acquainted in New Jersey.  Both men had backgrounds in journalism and public relations. When they met, Sapir was working as a reporter covering a political campaign for which one of the candidates had hired Murphy as his speechwriter.  The two writers conceived of a campy espionage series featuring a professional assassin.  They finished the first novel in the Destroyer series in 1963, but they could not interest a publisher in the series until 1971.  Still, in the interim, they had continued to write novels for the series.  So once they did find a publisher, they had a backlog of titles ready to go to press.

The series has outlasted a half-dozen imitators.  The eighty novels in the series have sold more than 30 million copies.  Sapir was more interested in developing the premise of each book, and Murphy was more adept at writing the action sequences.  So Sapir typically wrote the first half of each novel, and Murphy wrote the second half.  They collaborated on the first 37 novels in the series.  The, because Sapir tired of it and wanted to pursue other projects, Murphy continued it on his own, writing the next 15 novels.  Until his death, Sapir collaborated on eight of the next 17 novels. Murphy has written the last 12 novels solo, though he has found collaborators for two other series.

The “Destroyer” is Remo Williams, a former Brooklyn cop whose death has been staged so that he can undertake clandestine operations without a traceable identity for the covert agency C.U.R.E.  His one confidante is Chuin, an elderly Korean expert in martial arts who expands Williams murderous repertoire and keeps him physically and psychologically fit.  The novels are known for their uninhibited invention and improvisation.  Death Check has Remo Williams infiltrating a think tank to put a stop to all of that dangerous thinking.

 

Sherman, Daniel Michael.  Mole. New York: Arbor House, 1977.

Daniel Michael Sherman has a background in journalism and public relations.  He has subsequently written ten novels, most of which are concerned with espionage-related topics.

In Mole, the main character is Peter Jaeger, an agent with the Secret Operations branch of the C.I.A.  Code-named “Poet,” Jaeger is assigned to identify a KGB agent who has infiltrated deep into the C.I.A. hierarchy.  His task becomes more urgent when a series of people associated with the agency are murdered, apparently to safeguard the identity of the mole, or as he is identified by the operatives in the novel, the “Sleeping Beauty.”

Jaeger is a professional who has maintained a core sense of ethics despite the compromises that his chosen career has made necessary.  But he is far enough into his career that he is beginning to become very skeptical about the efficacy of the work he is engaged in.  His growing sense of disillusionment colors his pursuit of the enemy mole because he is starting to wonder whether the C.I.A. and K.G.B. are truly enemies or actually complementary parts of an intelligence system that has taken on a life of its own apart from the nations that sponsor the various agencies within it.

_________________________

Previous Posts in This Series:

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 1-3: http://academeblog.org/2014/05/30/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-1-3/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 4-5: http://academeblog.org/2014/05/31/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-4-5/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 6-7: http://academeblog.org/2014/06/01/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-6-7/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 8-10: http://academeblog.org/2014/06/04/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-8-10/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 11-13: http://academeblog.org/2014/06/06/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-11-13/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 14-16: http://academeblog.org/2014/06/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-14-16/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 17-19: http://academeblog.org/2014/06/18/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-17-19/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 20-22: http://academeblog.org/2014/06/25/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-20-22/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 23-25: http://academeblog.org/2014/07/07/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-23-25/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 26-29: http://academeblog.org/2014/07/11/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-26-29/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 30-32: http://academeblog.org/2014/07/23/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-30-32/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 33: http://academeblog.org/2014/07/29/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-33/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 34-36: http://academeblog.org/2014/08/10/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-34-36/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 37-39: http://academeblog.org/2014/08/15/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-37-39/

National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 40-42: http://academeblog.org/2014/08/21/national-in-security-fifty-notable-american-espionage-novels-40-42/

 

 

 

About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University, where I have been a faculty member for almost 25 years. I serve as the president of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes two bargaining units, as the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, and as a member of the executive committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized.

4 comments on “National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 43-45.

  1. martinkich
    August 23, 2014

    Reblogged this on Stuff for a Slow Day.

  2. Pingback: National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 46-48. | The Academe Blog

  3. Pingback: National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 49-50. | The Academe Blog

  4. Pingback: America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 1-2 | The Academe Blog

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This entry was posted on August 23, 2014 by in faculty.
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