CULTURE

Cold War tale of espionage and betrayal

What’s the purpose of yet another Cold War novel in 2006? In the case of Brenda Marder’s «The Greek Dream» (AuthorHouse Eds.) we do not have a mere rehashing of the old Soviet-US spy wars, but a work that brings an insider’s view of espionage activities and also touches upon the issue of terrorism in Greece – namely, the activities of terrorist gang November 17, which remained elusive for 27 years. By «insider» we do not mean Marder herself, but her husband, Everett, a retired Greek Area Specialist for the Defense Intelligence Agency who served for over 10 years, in the 1970s and 1980s, in Thessaloniki and Athens (his son, John identified him recently, probably mistakenly, as the successor to Jack Welch, the CIA station master who became November 17’s first victim, in 1975). In the novel, it is a diplomat’s wife who is the former DIA operative encouraged by the wily station chief to engage in espionage activity while on a skiing trip to Bulgaria. The mission itself is a failure but a chance event brings her into contact with a Bulgarian intelligence officer of Greek descent who is soon to be posted to Athens and secretly wants to defect. To her husband’s alarm, this encounter involves her deeper and deeper in further cloak-and-dagger schemes as she and her husband become, in effect, the Bulgarian officer’s handlers. The danger is exacerbated by the fact that the Bulgarians appear to have a close relationship with November 17 and the Americans are very interested in that connection. The end is full of unexpected betrayals, as one would expect in a spy story. The author’s long residence in Greece, as a result of which she also wrote a notable two-volume history of the American Farm School in Thessaloniki «Stewards of the Land,» allows her to use the country as a plausible backdrop without lapsing into exoticism. She also captures well the mood inside the US Embassy in Athens in the late 1970s, a mood which must have been somber, as events from the recent past had unleashed a wave of anti-Americanism and Welch’s murder had made everyone in that community fearful of their security. Quite a good effort for a first novel.