This book was so disappointing. So. Disappointing. I don’t know how you can make such an interesting story boring, but the writers managed to make this book an actual snoozefest if such a thing exists.
I am appealing any non fiction writer today to write about this story so I can read that and get this taste out of my mouth.
Farewell follows Russian KGB officer Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov as he becomes disillusioned with the Soviet system of party patronage and begins giving secrets to French agents working in Russia. The book follows a chronological pattern from young Vetrov’s education to his early marriage, and his life in France. Vetrov had coveted foreign assignments and enjoyed the French lifestyle. While there, he covertly attempts to turn French citizens into operatives working for the KGB in France. Meanwhile, the French government tried to turn him. Much of the information about this period in Vetrov’s life comes from his widow (spoiler alert), Svetlana. There are a few mini scandals that are not discussed in detail due to promises the authors made to Svetlana, but ultimately their time in France ends and Vetrov is shuffled back to the USSR to work in the technology office. After years without progressing to the level that Vetrov would like, he decides it is time to give secrets to the French. Thus begins his short career as a double agent. Clearly, this life is unsustainable, and Vetrov, while jailed for the attempted murder of his mistress, tries to keep is ‘greater’ crimes hidden.
So, the story in and of itself is so interesting. The authors clearly did so much first person research, however, they were completely unable to write well or even concisely. In the end, too much time is setting up what the Farewell Dossier meant to the Americans without actually showing a specific result. It was like a kid blowing up a balloon and you keep waiting for it to be finished only to have the air let out somewhere in the middle. Poorly written spy story. I am still shaking my head at how the authors managed to make it so boring.