The Silent Game Book Club

Do intelligence historians and other academic researchers have any use of spy novels beyond their entertainment and escapist function? The aim of the Silent Game Book Club is to answer this question in the affirmative. It is based on the assumption that spy novels can shed light on certain complex and intricate aspects of the intelligence business that may not be addressed in archival and policy documents, especially regarding its ethical and personal dimensions.

 

The choice of novels will be based on two criteria. The first criterion is the date of publication. The Club will read only novels published within the last year. The Club discussions are intended to capture the spirit of our time or, in the words of the spy novelist Alan Furst, the “psychic energies” of the present. The second criterion is that novels have recognized literary merits as standalone aesthetic products and not be a part of the serialized production.

The Silent Game Book Club will meet monthly, on the last Tuesday of each month. Meetings will be held via Zoom. The first meeting will be on June 30, 2020 at 9 AM Pacific / 12 PM Eastern and will last for an hour. The hope is that the meeting time will accommodate participants beyond North America. 

All participants will be expected to obtain the books and read them by the meeting date. The Club facilitator will send email reminders to participants and provide a set of reading questions one week before the meeting. The Club facilitator will take notes during the meeting and write a short general discussion report for publication on the NASIH website.

The Books

  • June 30,  2020 - John Le Carré. Agent Running in the Field. New York: Vintage, 2019.

  • July 28, 2020 - Lara Prescott. The Secrets We Kept. New York: Knopf, 2019.

  • August 25, 2020 - Alan Furst. Under Occupation. New York: Random House, 2019.

  • September 29, 2020 - Cara Black. Three Hours in Paris. New York: Soho Press, 2020.

  • October 27, 2020 - P.W. Singer and August Cole. Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.

  • November 24, 2020 - Lauren Wilkinson. American Spy. New York:  2019.

  • December 29, 2020 - James J. Knights. Girl Soldier Blue. Purcellville, VA: S & H Publishing, 2019.

  • January 26, 2021 - Ariel Lawhon. Code Name Hélène. Doubleday: New York, 2020.

  • February 23, 2021 - Mai Jia. The Message. Trans. Olivia Milburn. London: Head of Zeus, 2020.

  •  March 30, 2021 - Jasmine Aimaq. The Opium Prince. Soho Books, 2020.

  •  April 27, 2021 - Michelle Butler Hallet. Constant Nobody. Fredericton, Canada: Goose Lane Editions, 2021.

  •  May 25, 2021 - Alma Katsu. Red Widow. New York: Penguin, 2021.

  •  June 29, 2021 - Paul Vidich. The Coldest Warrior. New York: Pegasus Crime, 2020.

  •  July 27, 2021 - David Ignatius. The Paladin. Norton, 2020.
     

Join the Club

If you are interested in participating in the first meeting, please email Filip Kovacevic at fkovacevic@usfca.edu by June 12 with a short description of your background and the nature of your interest – personal or scholarly – in spy fiction. Space is limited. Sign up only if you can commit to reading the books and taking part in the discussions. Participants in the first meeting will have a right of first refusal on participation in the second meeting.

Facilitator’s Biography

Born in the Adriatic coast medieval fortress town in Tito’s Yugoslavia, Filip Kovacevic (PhD, University of Missouri, 2002) has lectured across Europe, the Balkans, the former USSR, including Russia, and the U.S. He currently teaches at the University of San Francisco and specializes in Russian and Eurasian intelligence history and spy fiction.