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Summary

While there have been other books about Aldrich Ames, Circle of Treason is the first account written by CIA agents who were key members of the CIA team that conducted the intense "Ames Mole Hunt."

Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille were two of the five principals of the CIA team tasked with hunting one of their own and were directly responsible for identifying Ames as the mole, leading to his arrest and conviction.

One of the most destructive traitors in American history, CIA officer Aldrich Ames provided information to the Soviet Union that contributed to the deaths of at least ten Soviet intelligence officers who spied for the United States. In this book, the two CIA officers directly responsible for tracking down Ames chronicle their involvement in the hunt for a mole. Considering it their personal mission, Grimes and Vertefeuille dedicated themselves to identifying the traitor responsible for the execution or imprisonment of the Soviet agents with whom they worked.

Their efforts eventually led them to a long-time acquaintance and coworker in the CIA's Soviet-East European division and Counterintelligence Center, Aldrich Ames.

Not only is this the first book to be written by the CIA principals involved, but it is also the first to provide details of the operational contact with the agents Ames betrayed. The book covers the political aftermath of Ames's arrest, including the Congressional wrath for not identifying him sooner, the FBI/CIA debriefings following Ames's plea bargain, and a retrospective of Ames the person and Ames the spy. It is also the compelling story of two female agents, who overcame gender barriers and succeeded in bringing Ames to justice in a historically male-oriented organization.

Now retired from the CIA, Grimes and Vertefeuille are finally able to tell this inside story of the CIA's most notorious traitor and the men he betrayed.

©2012 Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A little disappointing.

Narration and story a little weak. Very interesting subject and I expected more detail. Worth a read however.

1 person found this helpful

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Great subject matters dissolves away ........

I find this an a fascinating subject and the authors had a story to tell but it just doesn't deliver. It reads like a school essay and the narration is poor and lacking inflection. I particular dislike the last chapter where the authors spend time complaining about lack of recognition for CIA colleagues when others got it. She could have done it better saying nothing and let the reader judge. I wish it could be re written and narrated

1 person found this helpful

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Did not worth one credit

The book did not worth one credit from my audible account. Neither did the narrator.
A book full of auto-promotion of some two realy obscure women working in CIA.

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A Misleading Title

The audio is all right but this is not a book about the Aldrich Ames espionage case. It focuses mainly on the authors' careers within the CIA, inter - office politics and some other random CIA stuff. Aldrich Ames remains a footnote in this book.

Disappointing as the Aldrich Ames case does have the potential to make for a great book.

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  • Jean
  • 15-01-14

The hunt for a mole

Why were so many agents in the USSR being compromised to the KGB and executed? Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, longtime veterans of the CIA were in the forefront of a small group assigned to the mission, in early 1991 to expose the traitor (mole) in their midst. They give a detailed step by step account of the hunt and the arrest of Aldrich Ames. Ames was a 30 year veteran of the CIA and Directorate of Operations. They give credit to the people both CIA and FBI that worked with them on the project. They also discuss some of the other traitors uncovered during the time. I found it interesting that in the beginning of the book it was revealed that both women were college graduates, spoke several languages, but the only jobs open in the CIA to women at the time was as typist and secretary. They were hired and had to work their way up as areas were opened to women as the years went by. As I was from the same time frame I was well aware of this problem. It is nice to have the note in passing, written in a book, cause a look back at how far women have come in the work place. The book reveals it was the tedious attention to detail and the following of the money that finally caught Ames. They note Ames was a man that thought women were of no value in the work place so it was great he was caught by two women. I am sure that a lot of information was censored by the CIA but this book is of interest to us history buffs. Janet Metzger did a good job narrating the book.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Molly
  • 11-08-14

How to GET ahead by selling Secrets~5 STARS~

PLOT: Aldrich Ames the ultimate spy~ selling secrets to the KGB.

Aldrich Ames worked for the CIA~ having a failed first marriage and then marries a very well educated Columbian Rosario. Rosario likes nice things and spends at an alarming amount of money. When Rick (ALDLRICH) Ames is even more seriously in debt he takes a walk over to the Russian Embassy and offers to "sell secrets". As his information is proved "very helpful" and more operatives spying for the CIA 'disappear'.... Ames is given even more money a grand total of $2.7 MILLION dollars by the Russians. Dozens of people died and many ended up in prison. Ames continued to spy until the day he was arrested. He was mainly captured due to his very extravagant spending. When you pay $500,000 CASH for a house someone has to find out. LOL.....Jeanne Vertefelle and Sandy Grimes had worked for the CIA for years. They working hard even through the good old boy network only allowed women for typing. As they are recruited for a special team to ferret WHY so many CIA spies are "disappearing".... ruling out wire taps and communication breaches they only have a "mole" as the last possibility. Ames who felt he deserved a extravagant foreign car HE drove to work every day....finally gets noticed.... when combing Ame's bank statements do they get the final PROOF Ames has a new hobby.....selling secrets....to the KGB. This starts with the history of Jeanne and Sandy the authors... and their climb up the CIA ladder. then they are chosen to find the MOLE. Ames who is labeled a narcissist can pass a lie detector test has no feelings of guilt what so ever about his double dealing. The LOOK into the capture of a SPY and the workings of the CIA is both interesting and very entertaining. This book is excellent and give us the most accurate look at Ames by his own co workers. I give it 5 out of 5.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Scott
  • 03-05-14

Reads like a police report but interesting anyway

What made the experience of listening to Circle of Treason the most enjoyable?

Those expecting either a traditional linear storyline or page turner will be disappointed but that doesn't mean this take doesn't have its pluses. It is oddly structured - starting out with bios of the case officers who investigated and caught Ames, followed by biographical profiles of those he betrayed, then the investigation itself. Only toward the end of the book is there a profile of Ames. The reader is required to piece much of this into a coherent timeline/narrative. Taken together the reader gets an overall understanding of his crimes but less so about the man. Will hardly keep the reader on the edge of their seat but is enough to reveal the banality of the man, the doggedness of his pursuers, and the gravity of his crimes.

What does Janet Metzger bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Narration is okay but matches the "Just the facts M'am" tone if the book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

A bit too dry for that.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Donald
  • 18-11-16

Bureaucratic Reporting

If you're looking for a mildly interesting - not even to hope for exciting - story on the Aldrich Ames spy case, this isn't it. At best this is an unexciting tome of names and places that could (maybe) serve as a good text book for someone who wanted to study the affair. I stuck with it hoping that the activities leading to and culminating in the arrest might quicken the pace. No such luck. Any piece of the case that might have some dramatic interest are tossed off in a sentence at most. We owe great thanks to the authors for their work that uncovered Ames, but an editor somewhere should have helped them weave this dry-as-dust re-telling into something of a story that had a narrative, didn't drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, and let the reader feel some of --any of-- their emotions during their work.

5 people found this helpful

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  • J. B. Evans
  • 12-05-17

Confusing

Aldrich Ames seems almost an afterthought. The book opens by trying to enhance the author's positions within CIA and then turns to several cases that Ames destroyed, killing the agents involved. We ease into a discussion of Ames and at the end are really introduced to him. All the information is included but in a hodgepodge manner.
The listener should be aware that this book seems to be a product of the CIA's efforts to rehabilitate their reputation after the Ames case broke. In fact, the authors as much as say so. They are insiders and remain very loyal so some skepticism is appropriate.

4 people found this helpful

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  • christopher
  • 13-08-16

More suited for academic study than leisure.

This book offered only one or two interesting chapters. It reads like an encyclopedia, and is dry, pompous and even distracting at times. I understand that the authors are well educated, and highly intelligent, but their superb writing abilities should be reserved for their investigative memorandums and other correspondence.

The book's vocabulary is not entirely common. For example, the authors' use of the word 'matriculate' was unnecessary in my opinion. They could have simply mentioned that Ames was, 'accepted to the University of Chicago.'

Furthermore, the narrator's tone was dull and unemotional, perhaps due to the writing itself. The narrator also continued without pause, preventing sufficient time to understand the serious impacts of certain events.

While I hold a Master's degree in Security Studies and believe I can articulate myself well with written words, I prefer simple language for books which I consider to be historical or even leisure reads.

I do not recommend this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Just_a_Guy
  • 11-12-14

Straight, and to the point

What about Janet Metzger’s performance did you like?

A lot of other reviewers have stated that the reader's voice is monotone or robotic. Personally I found it to match the overall tone of the book very well, with a matter-of-fact statement that leaves out unnecessary or excessive emotion. This isn't a drama, per say, it is an accounting of historical events.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Tina A
  • 18-11-15

Dry

With this content and level of intrigue it could have been really exciting. It was not. The actual spying and clandestine meetings and tactics were barely touched upon - whereas the tedious parts were drawn out. Such a shame- I was hoping for an exciting international spy thriller. It was not horrible just boring.

2 people found this helpful

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  • polley
  • 06-03-15

Not very good

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who enjoy reading criminal reports (not stories) or case documents or procedure manuals.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Another non-fiction book

How could the performance have been better?

A change in voice every now and then. The book is pretty dry, but reader does not help it. I agree with what other commenter said, "if you have a boring book then you need a reader that makes it interesting".

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment because I was hoping for a spy thriller and something about what happened. The first couple of chapters about the authors were interesting at first, but became very boring when they told about every detail and person they worked for. Sometimes they would say things like "we will get to that later", but it jumbled up to follow. I listen to about 3-4 non-fiction books per month driving to work. I listen to stories, educational, and leadership books. This is one of the more boring ones that I listened to. I enjoy true stories more than fiction because when written well (or read well) can put you on the end of your seat. When it is over, you know that you learned something and that it truly happened. This book is not one of those.

The Russian spy names are hard to follow. The constant flipping back and forth becomes almost too much. Or saying the person's name a couple chapters later and expecting you to remember them. Or expecting you to remember the country that they were in. Unless you can sit down, listen, and even take notes, this book is not for you. Or if you have a photographic about every detail, then maybe you could remember everything said and when and where.

Each story begins very well. It could be about the spies, the career of the ladies, or the investigating of the moles are very interesting at first. Everytime, I felt like "this going to be interesting" or I am going to try to pay attention to this at beginning of a chpater. But then it goes so far into detail, the brain can only handle so much. It starts reading like a procedures manual. It like someone tells you everything that did instead of just giving you a summary with interesting facts.

It feels like this was written more to try and clear the ladies names then to entertain the audience.

Any additional comments?

I rarely write reviews because most books are right in the middle. Most books are not "the fantastic read again books" or "why did I read/listen books". But, I felt like this one needed a review because it is not down the middle. It falls to the don't listen side. I am sure the authors are great ladies. I appreciate everything that have done for our country. But, they are not authors. From someone who enjoys non-fiction, this book is the reason that people hate listening/reading non-fiction because it reads/sounds like a text book and nothing interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-01-15

Betrayed by the Authors

The Ames story certainly has the potential to make for a great book. Instead, this book is the rambling story of the careers of two former CIA employees who happened to work at the Agency when Ames did his dirty work.

I found it nearly impossible to keep up with all the names dropped in this book. And way too much time was spent discussing the author's careers. The parts of the book actually about Ames could have been condensed into a book half as long.

2 people found this helpful