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Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in U.S. History

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An intense cat-and-mouse game played between two brilliant men in the last days of the Cold War, this shocking insider’s story shows how a massive giveaway of secret war plans and nuclear secrets threatened America with annihilation. In 1988 Joe Navarro, one of the youngest agents ever hired by the FBI, was dividing his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissan An intense cat-and-mouse game played between two brilliant men in the last days of the Cold War, this shocking insider’s story shows how a massive giveaway of secret war plans and nuclear secrets threatened America with annihilation. In 1988 Joe Navarro, one of the youngest agents ever hired by the FBI, was dividing his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissance, and working counter-intelligence. But his real expertise was “reading” body language. He possessed an uncanny ability to glean the thoughts of those he interrogated. So it was that, on a routine assignment to interview a “person of interest”—a former American soldier named Rod Ramsay—Navarro noticed his interviewee’s hand trembling slightly when he was asked about another soldier who had recently been arrested in Germany on suspicion of espionage. That thin lead was enough for the FBI agent to insist to his bosses that an investigation be opened. What followed is unique in the annals of espionage detection—a two-year-long battle of wits. The dueling antagonists: an FBI agent who couldn’t overtly tip to his target that he suspected him of wrongdoing lest he clam up, and a traitor whose weakness was the enjoyment he derived from sparring with his inquisitor. Navarro’s job was made even more difficult by his adversary’s brilliance: not only did Ramsay possess an authentic photographic memory as well as the second highest IQ ever recorded by the US Army, he was bored by people who couldn’t match his erudition. To ensure that the information flow would continue, Navarro had to pre-choreograph every interview, becoming a chess master plotting twenty moves in advance. And the backdrop to this mental tug of war was the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the very real possibility that its leaders, in a last bid to alter the course of history, might launch a devastating attack. If they did, they would have Ramsay to thank, because as Navarro would learn over the course of forty-two mind-bending interviews, Ramsay had, by his stunning intelligence giveaways, handed the Soviets the ability to utterly destroy the US. The story of a determined hero who pushed himself to jaw-dropping levels of exhaustion and who rallied his team to expose undreamed of vulnerabilities in America’s defense, Three Minutes to Doomsday will leave the reader with disturbing thoughts of the risks the country takes even today with its most protected national secrets.


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An intense cat-and-mouse game played between two brilliant men in the last days of the Cold War, this shocking insider’s story shows how a massive giveaway of secret war plans and nuclear secrets threatened America with annihilation. In 1988 Joe Navarro, one of the youngest agents ever hired by the FBI, was dividing his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissan An intense cat-and-mouse game played between two brilliant men in the last days of the Cold War, this shocking insider’s story shows how a massive giveaway of secret war plans and nuclear secrets threatened America with annihilation. In 1988 Joe Navarro, one of the youngest agents ever hired by the FBI, was dividing his time between SWAT assignments, flying air reconnaissance, and working counter-intelligence. But his real expertise was “reading” body language. He possessed an uncanny ability to glean the thoughts of those he interrogated. So it was that, on a routine assignment to interview a “person of interest”—a former American soldier named Rod Ramsay—Navarro noticed his interviewee’s hand trembling slightly when he was asked about another soldier who had recently been arrested in Germany on suspicion of espionage. That thin lead was enough for the FBI agent to insist to his bosses that an investigation be opened. What followed is unique in the annals of espionage detection—a two-year-long battle of wits. The dueling antagonists: an FBI agent who couldn’t overtly tip to his target that he suspected him of wrongdoing lest he clam up, and a traitor whose weakness was the enjoyment he derived from sparring with his inquisitor. Navarro’s job was made even more difficult by his adversary’s brilliance: not only did Ramsay possess an authentic photographic memory as well as the second highest IQ ever recorded by the US Army, he was bored by people who couldn’t match his erudition. To ensure that the information flow would continue, Navarro had to pre-choreograph every interview, becoming a chess master plotting twenty moves in advance. And the backdrop to this mental tug of war was the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the very real possibility that its leaders, in a last bid to alter the course of history, might launch a devastating attack. If they did, they would have Ramsay to thank, because as Navarro would learn over the course of forty-two mind-bending interviews, Ramsay had, by his stunning intelligence giveaways, handed the Soviets the ability to utterly destroy the US. The story of a determined hero who pushed himself to jaw-dropping levels of exhaustion and who rallied his team to expose undreamed of vulnerabilities in America’s defense, Three Minutes to Doomsday will leave the reader with disturbing thoughts of the risks the country takes even today with its most protected national secrets.

30 review for Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in U.S. History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peggy Ryan

    I have a lot of feelings about this book, most of which can be summed up by saying holy shit. I cannot stress enough to people that they need to read this book if they're at all interested in Cold War espionage and human behavioral patterns. Navarro weaves the events as effortlessly as a fiction novel, and you find yourself forgetting that this actually occurred. Chilling, gripping and fantastically written. 5/5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    “Nothing’s ever over till the fat lady sings.” Trite? Yes. Abrasive? Absolutely! Sexist? All the damn time. Profane? Seriously profane, and not in a way that some of us might find amusing. And yet, this memoir has a strangely fascinating aspect as well. It combines two stories, the primary one an espionage case in which the author plays the primary role, and a secondary one, the implosion of the author’s personality and marriage. It’s not fun reading, but after a certain point, there’s no turning “Nothing’s ever over till the fat lady sings.” Trite? Yes. Abrasive? Absolutely! Sexist? All the damn time. Profane? Seriously profane, and not in a way that some of us might find amusing. And yet, this memoir has a strangely fascinating aspect as well. It combines two stories, the primary one an espionage case in which the author plays the primary role, and a secondary one, the implosion of the author’s personality and marriage. It’s not fun reading, but after a certain point, there’s no turning away from it either. Thanks go to Net Galley and Scribner for the DRC, which I received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Navarro is a hot-shot young FBI agent in 1988, and it is while conducting what is expected to be a fairly routine interview that he notes a “tell” from former US soldier Rod Ramsey. It becomes the basis of an espionage case that goes much deeper than anyone anticipated. Navarro uses his expertise in nonverbal communication to tell what Ramsey is feeling during the various phases of his interviews, and he also uses it to control and manipulate Ramsey into cooperating with the investigation. Ramsey is the one soul on this planet with fewer friends than Navarro, and so Navarro spends years making Ramsey believe that he himself is that sought-after friend, practically family. He does it so he can have this kid busted and send him away for a really long time. Navarro knows a lot about reading and controlling others nonverbally, but he doesn’t know a thing about building a family life or about how to make friends, and it’s clear he knows this, yet he can’t help himself. He tells us that an agent he wants to assist him on the Ramsey case tells a supervisor that she would prefer to work with someone else, and specifically, with anyone, anyone, anyone else but him. A number of other people echo this sentiment, and yet his personality continues on its hell-bent-for-leather downhill trajectory. While he continues his self-aggrandizement with a hearty side-serving of brazen braggadocio, Navarro recounts again and again how much he hates the office staff at work, little people that are getting in his way by attempting to do their jobs. Clearly they just don’t understand how very important he is, but that’s okay, because he is letting the world know now. Regarding the office manager that dares remind him of small requirements like changing the oil in his official vehicle, he uses a tired aphorism: “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It annoys the pig and it wastes your time.” He lets us know that he swore at, patronized, and berated her constantly, and lest we take his admissions as a sign of penitence, he also lets us know that he hates her still. He has changed her name for obvious legal reasons, but he hasn’t changed his obnoxious attitude or gained a speck of humility. Add to this the fact that, though this espionage case is terrific book material, Navarro isn’t much of a writer. Clichés abound, and very basic principles of narrative writing are either never learned or disregarded. He starts chapters with lists, apparently too busy and important to transform these into paragraphs. I’m not all that sure he ever edited his work (because he might have noticed his overuse of parenthesis) and I’m not sure he permitted anyone else to do so either (because surely they would have come to his rescue). Still, it’s an interesting story. Whereas someone else could no doubt do a finer job of writing this thing, it’s undeniably compelling. I recommend this memoir to those that enjoy espionage thrillers and true crime stories, but don’t give up the full sticker price. Read it for free or cheap, and save your serious dollars for serious writers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leslynn

    Copy courtesy of NetGalley This book sounds more glorious than it is and should have been titled "Intense Focus on doing my job, so fuck the people around me"! This guy was an absent father and husband and just an all-round asshole, but he was really good at what he does for a living and was able to connect with bad guys in order to save his country; kudos for that. The story dragged on too long, and totally disappointed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. For a real-world true-to-life account written by the very FBI agent responsible for the arrest and conviction of the worst traitor in American history, this was surprisingly well-written and fraught with tension, ramping up with each turn of the page. I even went so far as to do a little research about Roderick Ramsay and Clyde Conrad, thinking that the things that they did -- selling state secrets to the Communist Bloc, including c I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. For a real-world true-to-life account written by the very FBI agent responsible for the arrest and conviction of the worst traitor in American history, this was surprisingly well-written and fraught with tension, ramping up with each turn of the page. I even went so far as to do a little research about Roderick Ramsay and Clyde Conrad, thinking that the things that they did -- selling state secrets to the Communist Bloc, including codes to the nuclear weapons deployed across Western Germany in the mid-80s -- couldn't possibly be true. Right? Well, it's all true, and revealed here in incredible, horrifying detail. The words of the General Glenn K. Otis during Ramsay's sentencing reveal the depth and seriousness of the crime: "Ramsey and Conrad's acts of espionage left the West so vulnerable and so stripped of its own defensive capabilities that its defeat 'would have been assured' had the Soviets acted on their intelligence and launched an all-out war." Let that sink in for a few minutes. The defeat of the West, including the United States, would have been assured. This is a fascinating study not only into the genius-level mind of Rod Ramsey, but the impact of the investigation had on the author, as well as the complete bureaucratic ineptness of our government, from FBI field offices interfering in each others investigations to a complete lack of communication between the Department of Justice, Department of State, FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and a host of others. As terrible as the crimes committed were, it is simple amazing that the US government still can't get its act together even after it has been shown in dozens of cases that this is, in fact, allowing further espionage events to happen undetected every day. At any rate, this book is highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bent Hansen

    Joe Navarro definitely knows about interrogation techniques, non-verbal communication, and how to make himself appear selfless, humble, and professionally brilliant. He may indeed be all these things, but much of this book just seems a little too self-aggrandising to my taste. The story takes some time to get going, and although Navarro's style of writing is quite fluid, the first third of the book was quite a struggle for me. Once the enormity of the case started to become clear, however, I was Joe Navarro definitely knows about interrogation techniques, non-verbal communication, and how to make himself appear selfless, humble, and professionally brilliant. He may indeed be all these things, but much of this book just seems a little too self-aggrandising to my taste. The story takes some time to get going, and although Navarro's style of writing is quite fluid, the first third of the book was quite a struggle for me. Once the enormity of the case started to become clear, however, I was hooked and was only momentarily distracted here and there by Navarro's accounts of his sacrifices with regard to his own health and his family. Fans of true-crime accounts of espionage of the non-James Bond kind will most likely be well entertained by this terrifying true story that presents a lot of scary "what-ifs". Personally, however, I think I will stick to espionage fiction from now on. [An ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher through NetGalley]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    I received an advanced review copy of this book from NetGalley, but my opinions are honest and all my own. And honestly, I wanted to love this book. I started out loving this book and then it went a little downhill for me. I was very intrigued, I have not read anything by this author before but former FBI agent skilled in behavioral techniques sounded very Criminal Minds, so I was on board! I was worried it would be too technical or advanced for me to understand, since I am not in the military n I received an advanced review copy of this book from NetGalley, but my opinions are honest and all my own. And honestly, I wanted to love this book. I started out loving this book and then it went a little downhill for me. I was very intrigued, I have not read anything by this author before but former FBI agent skilled in behavioral techniques sounded very Criminal Minds, so I was on board! I was worried it would be too technical or advanced for me to understand, since I am not in the military nor have I ever served in the FBI. It didn't really read like a memoir, it reads like a novel, so when I started it was actually very easy to understand. Once I hit the middle, I started to feel like the climax was taking too long (no pun intended haha). But seriously, I was like ok hello when is something big going to happen. I started to lose interest about the time the case gets dropped, and I didn't regain my interest when it gets picked back up. At that point, I felt there were too many names, titles, details being thrown into the story that were all very confusing to keep up with. Not enough background on the names and terms that were being introduced, so I wasn't able to connect and really anticipate what was happening next. Then the ending was a twist, describing more an emotional and physical toll on Joe's life, which is fine but also I wouldn't say there was enough development in the book about Joe's personal life for me to be satisfied that this is how the book ends. Maybe a military or history buff would be super into this, but as someone who was looking for a suspenseful story, this fell short.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    I won't bore you and regurgitate the synopsis for this one - the title says it all (but if you really want to know, go to my blog and it'll be posted there). So let's just get into it, shall we? I'm not a big non-fiction reader, nor do I care for history, historical fact, the past, etc. etc... so why would I ever pick up this book then since they are both?? Because it's so damn intriguing! Behavioral analysis and profiling? Check! FBI agents? Check! Espionage? Check! Intellectual cat and mouse t I won't bore you and regurgitate the synopsis for this one - the title says it all (but if you really want to know, go to my blog and it'll be posted there). So let's just get into it, shall we? I'm not a big non-fiction reader, nor do I care for history, historical fact, the past, etc. etc... so why would I ever pick up this book then since they are both?? Because it's so damn intriguing! Behavioral analysis and profiling? Check! FBI agents? Check! Espionage? Check! Intellectual cat and mouse tug of war? CHECK! What's not to like? And to think that this is a TRUE story is fascinating... and utterly scary. This book read like a novel. I had to repeatedly remind myself that this was real, the author actually lived what I was reading. To be in his mind and see how he choreographed and dueled with the highly intellectual Ramsay was extremely impressive and made me realize that's a job I would never be cut out for! Thank goodness for the likes of Mr. Navarro and the every day people in that field who have the cunning ability to help this country (for the greater good). If you love spy novels, non-fiction and want a peek inside the mind of this brilliant man and read his story of the worst espionage breach in US history, then I highly suggest you pick this book up and give it a go.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angela H.

    The book is about how Joe Navarro discovered about a major espionage through casual interviews. I appreciated how he did not rant on the frustration of the bureaucratic barriers. He found ways to work around the barriers to get the job done despite the frustrations. This book is a must read. I did give the book a 4 star due to prologue. It did not lure me into the book. Interest in the book for me started around chapter 3.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Three Minutes to Doomsday by Joe Navarro This story tells about the investigation of Joe Navarro into Rod Ramsey who sold private United States classified information to the Soviet Union. Joe Navarro was an FBI agent who worked in counter Intelligence out of the Tampa, Florida FBI field office. Starting in 1988 FBI agent Joe Navarro was dividing his time in SWAT, air reconnaissance and working counter intelligence. Joe is an expert at reading body language. That Joe Navarro was so good at reading Three Minutes to Doomsday by Joe Navarro This story tells about the investigation of Joe Navarro into Rod Ramsey who sold private United States classified information to the Soviet Union. Joe Navarro was an FBI agent who worked in counter Intelligence out of the Tampa, Florida FBI field office. Starting in 1988 FBI agent Joe Navarro was dividing his time in SWAT, air reconnaissance and working counter intelligence. Joe is an expert at reading body language. That Joe Navarro was so good at reading body language and being able to tell when he was being lied to was what impressed me about reading th.is story. Joe Navarro and another FBI agent have a meeting with Rod Ramsay, who was a former American soldier in Germany. Rod Ramsey was working with Clyde Conrad who both sold classified American military secrets while they were in Germany in the military. Navarro in that chance meeting with Rod Ramsey notices Ramsey twitch, when Clyde Conrad's name is mentioned. Clyde Conrad was already arrested in Germany for selling classified information. The story is about the fifty interviews Joe Navarro had with a female agent usually in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida with Rod Ramsay. Rod Ramsay had the second highest IQ in the United States military. Rod Ramsay has a big ego and begins to tell Joe Navarro over the course of fifty interviews how he and his former partner Clyde Conrad sold these classified secrets overseas. This book was both easy and hard to understand because it involves all of the bureaucracy that FBI Agent Joe Navarro had to deal with while he was slowly but steadily getting information from Rod Ramsay. The NSA, the US Army Intelligence and Security Command and the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency were all obstacles during Navarro's interviews with Rod Ramsay. Nobody seemed to want to acknowledge that there was a severe breach in US intelligence. This book will find itself a great audience with anybody who has had any experience in the military or any government agency. At it's heart this book is the behind the scenes look at how one FBI agent doggedly pursued a Cold War Spy. Joe Navarro had to deal with endless red tape from the FBI's Washington Field office and the FBI headquarters. Thank you to Net Galley, Joe Navarro and Scribner for providing me with my digital copy for a fair and honest review. f

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy McBride

    PRELIM REVIEW: I'm just now about a quarter of the way through this book, but I'm absolutely compelled to give a sneak preview to those considering this book. As someone who spent almost 30 years negotiating very high-dollar, highly-classified contracts with Prime government contractors, I can tell you that Navarro's method of interacting with a promising source of information (or, in my case, my opposition during negotiations) is 100% spot-on. I can't even count the number of times I used my "n PRELIM REVIEW: I'm just now about a quarter of the way through this book, but I'm absolutely compelled to give a sneak preview to those considering this book. As someone who spent almost 30 years negotiating very high-dollar, highly-classified contracts with Prime government contractors, I can tell you that Navarro's method of interacting with a promising source of information (or, in my case, my opposition during negotiations) is 100% spot-on. I can't even count the number of times I used my "naïve, blue-eyed blonde with dimples" persona to first put my counterparts at ease before going for the jugular. It worked every time, and I consistently brought home higher negotiated profit margins than my bosses expected. I also nailed my target's outside interests by covertly checking out the decorations in their offices -- a sure-fire way to ascertain their hobbies and passions -- and starting discussions by asking questions about those interests. One counterpart complained to my boss, saying he hated to negotiate with me because he considered me a friend and wanted to give me whatever I asked for. So... Navarro's story rings so true on so many levels that it's just jaw-dropping, and his storytelling capabilities are riveting. Ah, were I able to trade professional histories with him! Amazing read; you won't find anything better on the art of espionage. My final review will focus more on the overall story itself, but for now: don't hesitate! Read this book if espionage at all tickles your curiosity. This is the "real deal", and deserves higher than just 5 stars...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is my second book by this author and I quite enjoyed it. Joe has made a serious study out of nonverbal communication. To learn more about the "tells" of deceit, read another of his books because this isn't it. This book is the grueling year and some months he spends unraveling secrets from a guy named Rod Ramsey who worked with another guy named Clyde Conrad in West Germany during the Cold War during their time in the army. Ramsay is just a check mark on a list. Talk to him and move on. Sim This is my second book by this author and I quite enjoyed it. Joe has made a serious study out of nonverbal communication. To learn more about the "tells" of deceit, read another of his books because this isn't it. This book is the grueling year and some months he spends unraveling secrets from a guy named Rod Ramsey who worked with another guy named Clyde Conrad in West Germany during the Cold War during their time in the army. Ramsay is just a check mark on a list. Talk to him and move on. Simple. Except he cigarette shook on the subject of Conrad. On that nonverbal communication, Navarro launches into a year and a half that drove him to uncover the biggest breach of military secrets in the history of our country. What I enjoyed about the book is Navarro himself. Perhaps with a two and a half decades of retrospect he is able to see where he may have been abrasive and detached enough (read: married to his job) that he was off putting. And irritating. And there was a reason She-Moody was reticent to work with him. I lived She-Moody and how she puts him in his place and is willing to shoot him in the hip if strays. The account of the interviews and explanations of the gravity of it are well written so that a lay person can get a pretty clear picture. Laced with humor, the book was easy to read and a little heartbreaking. Warning that there F bombs. It's not rampant but is definitely present.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for the ARC. This book didn't live up to my expectations, mainly due to my dislike of the narrator/main character. While I am highly appreciative of the work performed by Joe Navarro and his colleagues in the FBI, I found his lack of concern about his own behavior (even 25 years later) troubling or off putting. The times he talks about his behavior seem insincere to me and included only because he realized he should have learned something regarding his marriage, Thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for the ARC. This book didn't live up to my expectations, mainly due to my dislike of the narrator/main character. While I am highly appreciative of the work performed by Joe Navarro and his colleagues in the FBI, I found his lack of concern about his own behavior (even 25 years later) troubling or off putting. The times he talks about his behavior seem insincere to me and included only because he realized he should have learned something regarding his marriage, his family, his health, etc. my second complaint is that it took until near the end of the book to truly understand how big the case was and therefore for most of the book I didn't feel that invested in the outcome.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Francisca

    i have mixed feelings about this book. or more like, mixed feelings about how this book is presented. let me give you an excerpt of the blurr on goodreads: a traitor whose weakness was the enjoyment he derived from sparring with his inquisitor ... not only did Ramsay possess an authentic photographic memory as well as the second highest IQ ever recorded by the US Army, he was bored by people who couldn’t match his erudition. so, no blame on me, but i thought this book would be about a battle of i have mixed feelings about this book. or more like, mixed feelings about how this book is presented. let me give you an excerpt of the blurr on goodreads: a traitor whose weakness was the enjoyment he derived from sparring with his inquisitor ... not only did Ramsay possess an authentic photographic memory as well as the second highest IQ ever recorded by the US Army, he was bored by people who couldn’t match his erudition. so, no blame on me, but i thought this book would be about a battle of wits, a thriller-like retelling of brewing interrogations and tense situations. my take now i've finished the book: sort of. joe navarro is an author specialised on body language. it's an element of his training vital to the uncovering and development of this case. i don't think joe navarro is that good at actually writing/describing personalities. to me, it felt like half of this spy's remorseless, psycopathic behaviour got a bit lost from the experience into the page. i believe him on it; i just couldn't really see it for myself. as far as this book is concerned, the battle of wits and the tense interrogations never really happened. this apparent spy-master (or third-generation spy) was almost desperate to brag about his actions. like, it didn't seem to take too much for him to start spilling the beans on him comitting treason or giving away vital evidence. i was almost glad by the end that other people had also questioned what had happened: this guy has the second highest iq in military history (not that iq-testing is a perfect mark of brilliancy) and he just built his case for them without realising he was signing his confessions every time he opened his mouth? there's a small debate on why this happened by the end of the book. my best guess is this poor fella was desperate to latch on to whatever father figure was available. that's how he ended up selling highly classificed state secrets and that's why he ended up telling all about it to an fbi agent. maybe my empathy levels are higher than the author but i felt sorry for him. i don't have his enduring patriotism, sorry about that. regardless of this problem, i did enjoy this book. i got a bit emotional by the end, to be honest. but me getting emotional over other people getting emotional isn't such a hardship. still, i shoudl say this book's biggest asset is its choice of verb tense. unlike what i was expecting and the usual narrative non-fiction books i've read so far, this is written in the present tense. like journal entries occurring in real time. i'm not even sure they are factual entries because for what the author says, he didn't even have time to shower, where would he get the time to sit down and write what was happening? and if they are real-in-time, editing obviously occurred. regardless of this, having everything told as it was happening gave the story the immediate sense of the political thriller i was expecting. it failed a bit in terms of presenting a credible villain (in my opinion) but the pacing was spot-on. case in point, i read the second half of this book in a single day (today) and i could have gone reading it for a bit longer.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maarja Mets

    Truly fascinating insight into the soul of an actual spy, instead of the inhumane villains that they are sometimes made out to be. The way Rod Ramsay was looking for approval of an older male friend, a character fault that brought on his downfall: first, in Germany, going along with his military superior´s schemes to sell information to the enemy´s side and then, back home, trusting an FBI agent so thoroughly as to tell him all about his illegal activities. On a personal level, it´s a sad story Truly fascinating insight into the soul of an actual spy, instead of the inhumane villains that they are sometimes made out to be. The way Rod Ramsay was looking for approval of an older male friend, a character fault that brought on his downfall: first, in Germany, going along with his military superior´s schemes to sell information to the enemy´s side and then, back home, trusting an FBI agent so thoroughly as to tell him all about his illegal activities. On a personal level, it´s a sad story of a young man longing for human connection and being betrayed by the one that he trusts the most. From a broader perspective, it´s a cautionary tale of how easily a human mistakes can wreak havoc on the balance of international security.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rodney Cannon

    Compelling true story of Special Agent Navarro and his dedication to the truth. His behavioral analysis was groundbreaking for the time, and has influenced much of today's interrogation techniques. I look forward to seeing this on the big screen, as I read Clooney's production company bought the rights.

  16. 5 out of 5

    January Gray

    This was okay. I really don't have much to say about it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kay Cugini

    Gave up on this half way through, sorry just not for me, normally love this sort of book but felt the repeated tracking down and interviewing of the same guy didn't appeal to me

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vitalii Mainarovych

    The story with impressive scale. Nicely put and reads easily.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I LOVED this book so much! There was definitely some language in there, but it is SO worth your time. It is, mind-blowing, fascinating, & emotional. I felt like I was experiencing all the burdens the author was. This has to be one of my favorites books ever! I LOVED this book so much! There was definitely some language in there, but it is SO worth your time. It is, mind-blowing, fascinating, & emotional. I felt like I was experiencing all the burdens the author was. This has to be one of my favorites books ever!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Sites

    Yikes! Scary tale of how slippery National security can be. I continue to love Navarro’s work on the unsaid clues that people unconsciously reveal. More to learn from Navarro - genius in his own right.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jack Hansen

    This is a well written, true story about espionage and investigation by those who are elite in their field and how bureaucracy between agencies can bog down efficient efforts to resolve cases. The job takes its toll on families and personnel as intrigue and intellect carry this interesting plot without hot pursuits and buckets of blood. Joe Navarro is the protagonist and author. Opportunists, Clyde Conrad and Rod Ramsey, are genius antagonists. George Newbern narrates through the protagonist, wh This is a well written, true story about espionage and investigation by those who are elite in their field and how bureaucracy between agencies can bog down efficient efforts to resolve cases. The job takes its toll on families and personnel as intrigue and intellect carry this interesting plot without hot pursuits and buckets of blood. Joe Navarro is the protagonist and author. Opportunists, Clyde Conrad and Rod Ramsey, are genius antagonists. George Newbern narrates through the protagonist, who has an uncanny ability to read body language and retain details without taking notes. Minor characters are fleshed out enough to support major characters and contribute their personal qualities necessary for continuity and flow in this drama of perilous possibilities that can topple power in a precarious world. Thank God for the talent and integrity of the duty-bound men like Joe Navarro.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian Walter

    Went into this with high hopes after reading other spy stories but was disappointed to find this was written by a super cop who wanted to say how he saved the world by noticing a slight quiver. Had I wanted a Sherlock Holmes novel I would have picked that up, but here I was in the midst of a tale without any real depth. The author (supercop) failed to provide many details that would have fleshed out the crime, though we did get exorbitant details of their meals. I understand he was proud of his Went into this with high hopes after reading other spy stories but was disappointed to find this was written by a super cop who wanted to say how he saved the world by noticing a slight quiver. Had I wanted a Sherlock Holmes novel I would have picked that up, but here I was in the midst of a tale without any real depth. The author (supercop) failed to provide many details that would have fleshed out the crime, though we did get exorbitant details of their meals. I understand he was proud of his master interview skills, but to drop the story like a hot potato (dinner reference) when he was no longer the star of the case was the biggest crime of all. We got very few details of trial or any trace of aftermath. A book about a smug criminal, and an even more smug FBI gumshoe.

  23. 5 out of 5

    DjS

    Tedious, and self aggrandizing. The story is weak and the Entertainment value is zero. Navarro's oversized ego makes the quarry out to have a genius level IQ. Instead this so called 'espionage spy' is really just a lonely underachieving sad sack loser living in a trailer. Years before, this weak individual goes along with his smarter more savvy overseas colleague's information leak forays, doing so not for ideology or monetary return but for the respect and friendship he seeks. The confession of Tedious, and self aggrandizing. The story is weak and the Entertainment value is zero. Navarro's oversized ego makes the quarry out to have a genius level IQ. Instead this so called 'espionage spy' is really just a lonely underachieving sad sack loser living in a trailer. Years before, this weak individual goes along with his smarter more savvy overseas colleague's information leak forays, doing so not for ideology or monetary return but for the respect and friendship he seeks. The confession of this bit player is years late and the story is a dollar short.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jay C

    Interesting - and scary - story about national security information leaks from the late 1980s but for me it was made almost unreadable by the insufferably condescending tone of the author, who seemed, in addition to wanting to reveal a 'near miss' for national security, just as intent to convince us how much more clever he was than his associates and those he was investigating. I did like the insight into non-verbal communication and was reminded of the book "Spy the Lie" (though I think that bo Interesting - and scary - story about national security information leaks from the late 1980s but for me it was made almost unreadable by the insufferably condescending tone of the author, who seemed, in addition to wanting to reveal a 'near miss' for national security, just as intent to convince us how much more clever he was than his associates and those he was investigating. I did like the insight into non-verbal communication and was reminded of the book "Spy the Lie" (though I think that book was written by ex-CIA rather than an ex-FBI Agent as this one was).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark Carter

    Based on reviews I was very excited to read this book. I could have easily been a 4 or 5 star book for me. The problem wasn’t the story but the story teller. Instead of a professional author telling the spy story you get the former agent telling the story. Though it may be true - it gets tiresome to repeatedly be told how the agent is always the best and smartest and everyone else is getting in his way or not working hard enough. Navarro likely was an excellent FBI agent - but it’s unfortunate t Based on reviews I was very excited to read this book. I could have easily been a 4 or 5 star book for me. The problem wasn’t the story but the story teller. Instead of a professional author telling the spy story you get the former agent telling the story. Though it may be true - it gets tiresome to repeatedly be told how the agent is always the best and smartest and everyone else is getting in his way or not working hard enough. Navarro likely was an excellent FBI agent - but it’s unfortunate that he doesn’t let the story itself prove it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Kowalk

    Interesting, but the author is quite the narcissist, and seems to drag the whole thing on for too long.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I a huge fan of spy stories, both fiction and real. I had heard about Joe Navarro, an FBI counterintelligence specialist and body language guru. I didn't know about this case, the selling of war plans to the Soviets in the 1980's. This was a huge deal at the time, but looking back at it more than 25 years later, it is pure luck that nothing dramatic came of it. Such as the invasion of Europe by the Warsaw Pact. The author is an intense, mission driven FBI agent with a focus on counterintelligence I a huge fan of spy stories, both fiction and real. I had heard about Joe Navarro, an FBI counterintelligence specialist and body language guru. I didn't know about this case, the selling of war plans to the Soviets in the 1980's. This was a huge deal at the time, but looking back at it more than 25 years later, it is pure luck that nothing dramatic came of it. Such as the invasion of Europe by the Warsaw Pact. The author is an intense, mission driven FBI agent with a focus on counterintelligence. Finding spies and pulling out the details from the those under investigation. He uses his study of body language to gauge the sincerity of the person being interviewed. At that time it was considered by many in his office voodoo, but it worked (the author was eventually part of the FBI's initial group focused on using body language techniques for interviewing across the Bureau). He has a tendency to burn out partners and isn't home all that much. In this account, the author lets us see, warts and all, the people involved. This includes his strained home life, the negative things said about him by other agents and just how silly the internal workings of the FBI really are. In the end the author had to go on 9 months of sick leave, as he had pushed himself so far that in the end his health was broken. This story is a battle of wills that takes place over years and drains everyone involved. The case is focused on a couple of ex-Army guys who used lax security protocols and social engineering to gain access to & sell the NATO war plans to the Soviets. The person that the author interviews for hundreds of hours is a scary intelligent guy that lacks a moral compass. He is mentored by another guy how to move sell documents. For them, it was all about the thrill and the money. No ideology here. At one point we learn that the pair had given our nuclear codes to the Soviets, in the original form used by the guys in the vaults to validate a strike order. Think about the impact all of that could have made if the Soviets, as their empire collapses, freaks out and attacks. The assessment by the military and NSA is that NATO would have lost. Easily. There are a couple of big, scary revelations in the book. This is beyond the dedication and perseverance of many unsung heros protecting us. It is that those who are tasked with protecting us overall, could care less about country and worry more about themselves. First is the lax attitude at the US Army planning sites in Europe. Drugs & alcohol permeates everything. Small time black markets, too. Security is lacking. The mastermind had figured out where the holes were and then worked to quietly exploit them. Because of this small group, NATO was put at risk. It also a sad state of affairs on leveraging the smartest among us. The person that the author interviews is super intelligent. 2nd highest IQ score ever seen by the Army, along with a photographic memory. Society and the military don't do much with that kind of talent. He is kicked out of the Army after failing a drug test. He then drives a cab. Just think of what he could have accomplished if given the proper guidance? Second is the politicking inside of the FBI. Many in Washington wanted the case swept under the rug, either due to the amount of work that would be required to actually due the case justice or it was simply embarrassing. Then there is the whole jurisdiction thing, as the suspect is in Tampa, but the folks in Washington want to be in charge. They want to discredit the author at every turn, just to spite him. A lot of leaks out of the Washington office were done to make the author look bad. This in a sensitive counterintelligence case! As the suspect had a photographic memory (he freaked out the NSA folks), he could have easily defected to Moscow and spent years writing out everything he knew. Just to get an approval to arrest the guy was a nightmare. I hope that the FBI has learned from this and fixed a lot of the culture, but being a bureaucracy run by humans, I doubt it. This book reads like a heart pounding spy thriller, though without car chases. It is all real, which is all the more scary.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    A first-hand account by an FBI agent who obtained damaging information, and eventually a confession, from Rod Ramsay, a former document custodian in the US military in Germany in the 1980s, who was convicted of espionage. The book essentially consists of two elements : 1. detailed descriptions of the interviews the author (and his partners) conducted with Rod Ramsay. This includes a lot of information about the author's evaluation of Ramsay's body language, word choice and intonation, as well as A first-hand account by an FBI agent who obtained damaging information, and eventually a confession, from Rod Ramsay, a former document custodian in the US military in Germany in the 1980s, who was convicted of espionage. The book essentially consists of two elements : 1. detailed descriptions of the interviews the author (and his partners) conducted with Rod Ramsay. This includes a lot of information about the author's evaluation of Ramsay's body language, word choice and intonation, as well as much detail about how he (the author) set up the interviews so as to put maximal emotional pressure on his suspect. So there is much back and forth between the author and his partner about who should enter the meeting room first, where the suspect should sit, whether he should be offered a drink or should be invited to help himself. If you like that type of thing, this book will be fascinating; I personally had to sympathize with some of Navarro's partners who thought that a little of this type of stuff went a long way. 2. detailed descriptions of the bureaucratic warfare and delays. Between the FBI, the National Security Agency and Army intelligence, not to mention tensions between the FBI headquarters and the office in Tampa, there appears to have been so many territorial disputes, which the author recounts with a bitterness that the passage of 30 years does not seem to have softened. I totally shared his frustration at some of the inexplicable delays and pushback, but he did spend a lot of real estate in his book on the minutiae of bureaucratic infighting. For me the book was a bit of a disappointment because it was overly focused : on one FBI's agent experience in a major spying case. Navarro became involved in the most bureaucratic way possible : he received a direct request from the Army Intelligence to accompany one of their own investigators on what was expected to be a routine follow-up with a former army colleague of a recently arrested spy, Conrad. A box-checking exercise, perhaps, but Navarro came away with the impression that Ramsay had been more than a colleague of Conrad's, probably a criminal associate. At that very first interview, Ramsay gave Navarro a piece of paper that - get this !- turned out to be manufactured of a special dissolvable material used by Iron Curtain spy departments, and that carried the number of what what we can describe as the Hungarian espionage service's helpline. Tada! From then on, it becomes clear that Ramsay is essentially begging to be caught - but only by releasing little tidbits and drawing on the growing relationship with Navarro to be obtain attention, restaurant meals, and in a memorable episode, antibiotics for a sexually transmitted disease. So I followed the evolving relationship and sequential revelations with some interest, but for me there was little intellectual pleasure in this. There was a lot of psychological manipulation of the suspect, but very little sleuthing, very little piecing together of information to figure things out. It was also a little disappointing to me that the investigation of Ramsay was only sporadically put in the larger context, namely that of the court case against Conrad, the mastermind and originator of the espionage activities. Yes, Navarro is dispatched to Germany, where Conrad is being tried, to give testimony, but that didn't really help to make me find out, for instance, how Conrad had been caught, or how his Hungarian partners-in-crime had been caught. In summary : this book is a detailed description of an FBI agent's passionate, and ultimately successful pursuit of a member of a spying ring. Navarro's dedication to his work is admirable, and I felt for him when at the end of his mission he fell ill with a combination of physical and mental exhaustion. But for me, this book would have been much more enjoyable if a slightly broader picture of the entire spy case had been painted.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debby Taylor-Lane

    An informative, terrifying and thrilling book that shows exactly how vulnerable countries are to the threat of espionage. In this easily accessible book, FBI Special Agent, Joe Navarro teaches how important behavioral analysis is as he leads us along the, long, path that led to the arrest of American traitor, Rod Ramsey. A man who, as one half of the Conrad/Ramsey spy ring, committed acts of espionage, which, according to America’s Commander in Chief, European Command, “… left the West so vulner An informative, terrifying and thrilling book that shows exactly how vulnerable countries are to the threat of espionage. In this easily accessible book, FBI Special Agent, Joe Navarro teaches how important behavioral analysis is as he leads us along the, long, path that led to the arrest of American traitor, Rod Ramsey. A man who, as one half of the Conrad/Ramsey spy ring, committed acts of espionage, which, according to America’s Commander in Chief, European Command, “… left the West so vulnerable, its defeat would have been assured had the Soviets launched all out war… ” Even though the ending is already public record, Navarro’s memoir is still a page-turner that does credit to the brave and intelligent men and women within the FBI. I thoroughly enjoyed it, with two caveats: A) Navarro has given enough information to recount the events. However, he only allows us just below the surface of what happened; perhaps because, as the book warns, “The FBI reviewed the book prior to publication”. It is understandable that certain parts will have been omitted but it left me with the feeling of a story only half told, with no hope of a sequel. That same warning also states, “… some events have been reordered… ” If this is “a true account” why are events “reordered”? B) The ending reads as though the author just gave up on it or it was hastily written to meet a deadline. For 315 pages we accompany Navarro on his task of bringing Rod Ramsey to the justice he deserves. What happens to Ramsey afterward is summed up in 6 pages (a further 6 being allocated to Navarro’s health). The reader should not be cheated of, at the very least, the highlights of his trial and Navarro’s part therein.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Thistle

    This book is not the kind of book I usually read. Nonfiction. Military history. But I saw a really good talk online the author did (about reading body language) and so I wanted to get his book about that. While looking for that one, I spotted this book by him, and it seemed interesting enough to pick up. Set in 1988, it was about the capture of one of the biggest spies ever. On one hand, the story was interesting (at least the first 22% of it I read). An inside look at how the FBI works. On the o This book is not the kind of book I usually read. Nonfiction. Military history. But I saw a really good talk online the author did (about reading body language) and so I wanted to get his book about that. While looking for that one, I spotted this book by him, and it seemed interesting enough to pick up. Set in 1988, it was about the capture of one of the biggest spies ever. On one hand, the story was interesting (at least the first 22% of it I read). An inside look at how the FBI works. On the other hand, the "main character" (the author writing about himself) was rather insufferable -- too perfect, too good at everything. While it was making me somewhat frowny, I was willing to keep reading, until he turned mean. The scene that made me (and other readers, per Goodreads) stop reading was the one where he interacted with the office manager. She was just trying to do her job (make him fill out required paperwork) and he ripped into her with "don't you know how important I am? don't you know how important the work I'm doing?" kind of stuff. Yes, his work was important, but in an FBI office everyone's work would be more important than required paperwork about car maintenance. But the paperwork IS required, and know how often that poor woman likely heard "don't you know how important I am? don't you know how important the work I'm doing?" ? She had a job to do as well. He went on and on and on, page after page of how awful she was, what an awful person she was. While he used a fake name for her, he wrote about how she spoke (speech patterns and such) and I'm sure she would be able to recognize herself if she read this book.

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