Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia

Little, Brown. Oct. 2019. 320p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780316545921.
Gr 8 Up–Favreau examines the Cold War with close-ups of specific spies (American and Russian) and their techniques, trials, and repercussions. Explanations of key events that led to the Cold War are easy to understand and are presented in chronological order, starting with the arms race. Photographs are used carefully at the beginning or end of chapters to put faces to the names being discussed. At times, the text reads almost like a thrilling gossip column for history buffs and those interested in the suspense of espionage, but at other times the names of people are hard to keep track of and the narrative becomes a little dry. Overall, Favreau’s research is excellent; his previous works earned him a spot in the nonfiction canon for older students. The end of the book shares approachable synopses including a Cold War time line, glossaries for both the Cold War and key espionage techniques, and a notes section, as well as a primary sources list and a bibliography for further research.
VERDICT An engaging work of narrative nonfiction that young history buffs and future CIA agents are sure to eat up.

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