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The Spy's Son


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The riveting, true story of the father-and-son co-conspirators who sold US national secrets to Russia.

About the Author

Bryan Denson, an investigative reporter and senior staff writer for The Oregonian, is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for journalism and winner of the George Polk Award, among many other honours. This is his first book. Denson covered the case as it wound through Portland courtrooms, and The Spy's Son is the culmination of a two-year investigation, springing from a six part series in The Oregonian (reaching more than one million readers in print).


'The Spy's Son expertly chronicles Jim Nicholson's cold-blooded betrayal of both country and son. A gripping nonfiction read on par with a John le Carre thriller.'

-- Pete Earley * author of Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames *

'The uncommon family business of selling information to Russia proves exciting, lucrative and remarkably misguided ... The intricate portrait of Nicholson family life makes the father-son crime feel inevitable without ever coming off as dull. Denson puts his reporting chops to good use, packing the book with information but never overwhelming readers and maintaining tension, interest and momentum ... Captivating.'

* Kirkus Reviews *

`In a stunning piece of reporting Bryan Denson has unraveled one of the strangest spy stories in American history and written a haunting book as fast paced and as exciting as the best spy novel. It will keep readers awake as he takes them deep into a world of international espionage populated by KGB and CIA agents, American spy catchers and a family they'll never forget - and it's all true.'

-- Robert Lindsey * author of The Falcon and the Snowman *

`The Spy's Son is an intelligence service's worst nightmare - a double agent inside its walls. Human foibles of hubris and greed drive Jim Nicholson to betray his nation's deepest secrets and his own family. Denson's telling of the tale is riveting, agonizing, and for a former spook like me, sometimes heart-stopping.'

-- Valerie Plame * author of Fair Game *

`Gripping insight into the quiet war of spies, deception and treachery. As a former special agent, The Spy's Son should be required reading for agents and anyone else interested in the cloak and dagger world of espionage.'

-- Fred Burton * author of Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi *

'The Spy's Son is the amazing account of the dysfunctional Nicholson family's foray into the treacherous world of selling out one's country to the Russians. Denson's suspenseful story of the Nicholsons' reprehensible activities is an adventurous read, revealing tradecraft used by both spies and spy catchers. A true-life spy story spanning two decades in countries around the world, it is packed with danger, suspense and intrigue.'

-- Alan B. Trabue * author of A Life of Lies and Spies *

'We always think of the damage a spy does to his country, and to his colleagues and friends, but seldom to his family. This is the solemn and excruciating tale of a real spy who intentionally and selfishly used his son as a go-between himself and his Russian masters after he had been caught and imprisoned, and nearly ruined his son's life into the bargain. It is a splendid read.'

-- Frederick P. Hitz * and author of The Great Game: The Myths and Reality of Espionage *

'A startling story of a father-son team who bluffed the CIA ... [The Spy's Son] packs plenty of punch ... by revealing stunning ineptitude and failure of imagination among the very people entrusted to protect American secrets and lives around the world.'

-- Randy Dotinga * Christian Science Monitor *

'Engaging ... a noirish thriller that happens to be true.'

-- Joel Millman * Wall Street Journal *

'While The Spy's Son packs plenty of spy-vs.-spy drama, the most interesting chapters are about the bond between a father and his son.'

* Washington Post *

'A sad, fascinating tale of manipulation ... Highly compelling.'

* The Herald *
'Full of stunning detail gleaned from hundreds of hours of interviews with Nathan [Nicholson] and FBI and CIA insiders. But it's the tension within the Nicholsons' motives for spying which is most compelling - was Jim using Nathan for his own narcissistic reasons or just trying to help his kids?... it's the minor ripples of the everyday life of spies which make Denson's investigative journalism so compelling.' -- James Belfield * Sunday Star Times, NZ *

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