True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy by Kati Marton



Title: True Believer
Author: Kati Marton
Genre: History
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
# of Pages: 304
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Buy: Amazon | Chapters 



Summary: (Goodreads)

This astonishing real-life spy thriller, filled with danger, misplaced loyalties, betrayal, treachery, and pure evil, with a plot twist worthy of John le Carré, is relevant today as a tale of fanaticism and the lengths it takes us to.

True Believer reveals the life of Noel Field, an American who betrayed his country and crushed his family. Field, once a well-meaning and privileged American, spied for Stalin during the 1930s and ’40s. Then, a pawn in Stalin’s sinister master strategy, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades.

How does an Ivy League-educated, US State Department employee, deeply rooted in American culture and history, become a hardcore Stalinist? The 1930s, when Noel Field joined the secret underground of the International Communist Movement, were a time of national collapse: ten million Americans unemployed, rampant racism, retreat from the world just as fascism was gaining ground, and Washington—pre FDR—parched of fresh ideas. Communism promised the righting of social and political wrongs and many in Field’s generation were seduced by its siren song. Few, however, went as far as Noel Field in betraying their own country.

With a reporter’s eye for detail, and a historian’s grasp of the cataclysmic events of the twentieth century, Kati Marton captures Field’s riveting quest for a life of meaning that went horribly wrong. True Believer is supported by unprecedented access to Field family correspondence, Soviet Secret Police records, and reporting on key players from Alger Hiss, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and World War II spy master, “Wild Bill” Donovan—to the most sinister of all: Josef Stalin. A story of another time, this is a tale relevant for all times.


I received an advanced copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. I have very mixed feelings about this book. I was very excited to read True Believer. The story and life of Noel Field is an interesting tale but I had some issues on how this story was presented. After reading the blurb I expected more of a biography feel to the book, something that flowed together nicely. What I got instead resembled closely to one of my University history text books.

I struggled through the beginning of this book. Like I said, it felt a lot like a history text book and a lot of it was very dry material for me. There were many times throughout the first half that I considered putting the book down. I just found the beginning, for lack of a better word, boring. I’m sure that someone who is more interested in this time period will definitely disagree with me! I just felt that there was a lot of information that wasn’t necessary to tell the story of Noel Field. I had a difficult time getting engaged in the story, and I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I just couldn’t come to care about Noel Field. There were some parts of the story that I found very interesting, especially in the last half of the book. The last half picked up the pace a little bit and I found myself enjoying it a lot more, I’m happy I didn’t give up in the beginning.
I have a feeling that a lot of history buffs are absolutely going to love this one, and I will definitely recommend it to people who enjoy that time in history, but it just isn’t the time in history that I get overly excited about!

Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy of True Believer.

Rating: 2.5/5

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