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My Life as a Spy


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Table of Contents

Preface xi
A Note of Fonts, Pseudonyms, and Pronunciation xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Prologue 1
Part I. Research under Surveillance
1. The 1970s: "The Folklorist" as Military Spy 33
2. The 1980s: The Enemy's Many Masks 111
Excursus. Reflections on Reading One's File 181
Part II. Inside the Mechanisms of Surveillance
3. Revelations 195
4. Ruminations 277
Epilogue 295
Notes 299
Bibliography 309
Index 315

About the Author

Katherine Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania and Secrets and Truths: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania's Secret Police.


"A memoir with the exciting elements of an espionage thriller. . . . This work of anthropological intrigue shows the author's academic coming-of-age." -- Karl Helicher * Foreword Reviews *
"Fascinating, thoughtful and occasionally riveting." -- James Ryerson * New York Times Book Review *
"Coming from such a distinguished academic, Verdery's brutally honest description of herself, including as a naive and careless young scholar, is stunning. Few books reflect so frankly and so powerfully on the nature and complications of an academic career." * Foreign Affairs *
"This book raises provocative points about the effect of surveillance that will appeal to most readers." -- Laurie Unger Skinner * Library Journal *
"To read one's police file is-suddenly-to have the curtain pulled open. The self you think you know becomes a mask, concealing a devious somebody else whose relationships are mere espionage fakes. . . . [An] unforgettable book." -- Neal Ascherson * London Review of Books *
"This book constitutes an excellent, detailed foray into the workings of a surveillance state in the Soviet bloc. But ultimately, this book's strength emerges from its transparency concerning anthropological methodologies, an openness that comprises a foundational read for not only anthropology students but also for any social scientist working in post-socialist states." -- Sabrina Papazian * EuropeNow *
"Surely one of the finest and most thoughtful accounts of modern surveillance that we possess." -- Mark Mazower * TLS *
"Joining a growing body of literature based on secret police archival documents, Verdery's book stands out as she deploys her craft of anthropologist to examine the unexpected material. . . . By investigating one of its most elusive yet powerful apparatuses, the Securitate, Verdery creates an enthralling ethnography of the Communist state. . . . My Life as a Spy will teach anthropology, sociology, and history students much about methodology, and it is exemplary in exposing the dilemmas inherent in that methodology." -- Irina Culic * American Ethnologist *
"My Life as a Spy is Verdery's masterpiece. . . . This is a book that should be read by all anthropologists and taught across the globe - a beautifully written, deeply engaged and engaging text that shows just what a wonderful and revelatory discipline anthropology can be when in the hands of committed and resourceful scholars." -- Michael Stewart * Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute *
"This captivating memoir is like none I have read before. . . . A masterpiece." -- Kate Brown * Slavic Review *
"Every anthropologist should read this book." -- Steven Sampson * PoLAR *

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