From CFIS Chairman Charles S. Viar, a riveting tale that provides a stunning look at behind-the-scenes Washington. Written to provide young adults with an introduction to national security in a gripping and entertaining format, Just Before Midnight has proved equally popular with mature readers of all ages and both genders...
Essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand the forces and interests that drive American politics and policies...
JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT:
A TALE OF LOVE, ROMANCE, TREACHERY AND TREASON
Alicia Elizabeth McAllister. Pretty but not beautiful, a freshly minted honors graduate of Township College. Alicia moves from rural Connecticut to Washington, D.C., to join James, her boyfriend of three years. Cruelly abandoned by him on the day she arrives, a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger changes her life forever.
Thirteen years her senior, Alexander Michael de Vris is handsome, charming, rich and brilliant – and maddeningly enigmatic. A war hero, a former CIA officer, and the head of Washington’s most prestigious “think tank,” he’s also the President’s most trusted advisor.
Sympathetic – and impressed by her ability – Alex helps her win a position at the Center for Strategic Studies.
But not all is well in Washington. Little by little, she slowly awakens to the fact that she’s stumbled into the midst of a sinister conspiracy to assassinate the President – and that she’ll join the growing list of victims if anyone realizes she’s uncovered the plot. Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Most importantly, is the mysterious Alexander de Vris loyal to the President? Or is he too a traitor?
REVIEWS OF JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT
FROM A WOMAN'S PERSPECTIVE...
Like many other political issues, national security is becoming less of a “man’s interest,” as women -- especially women who vote regularly --are seeing the issue as vital. It may have been 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or an acquaintance with a soldier’s family, but women are now on-board and asking serious questions about national security, defense, and foreign policy.
Like other “men-only” political issues, this wasn't always the case. Just Before Midnight illustrates one young woman’s fast learning curve on intelligence, counterintelligence, covert operations and national security in general after being hired as an economics research assistant at a prestigious Washington think-tank -- and her romantic interest in the think-tank’s director -- where her ability to crunch numbers until they tell a story takes her deep into the secret world of the Cold War.
Alicia McAllister is just out of college with a dual major in International Finance and Economics when she heads to Reagan-era Washington seeking her fortune. Alexander de Vris, the Center for Strategic Studies director, intuitively recognizes Alicia’s gifts. He gives her the challenging task of discerning the source of the Soviet Union’s …
Wait! I don’t want to spoil the story...
Let’s just say that what Alicia discovers was most definitely not covered in my “Diplomatic History” course. Though it’s been a few years since that class, I would have remembered gun running, money laundering, and drug dealing as part of the Soviet secret “diplomatic” effort during the Cold War!
While Alicia is enjoying her professional success, she is also making the transition from a jeans-and-sweatshirt college kid to an attractive, well-dressed and semi-sophisticated young lady. This charming underlying thread in the book details how Alicia is guided by two generous female mentors in her journey into womanhood. Older women will find the details startlingly poignant and will no doubt reflect on their own influences; young women might learn a thing or two; and men may just find a few answers to the perennial question of ‘what do women want?’
But our heroine is a multi-tasker. While she may shop for shoes on Saturday, she spends most of her time being tutored by her department head -- and the CSS director -- on geopolitics. international finance, and America's political economy. She is even given the opportunity to attend a lecture by the storied James J. Angleton, the former CIA chief of counterintellligence, where he details the Soviet Union’s disinformation offensive against the West. Alicia’s new appreciation for counterintelligence is crucial to the story.
All this schooling is to prepare Alicia for her next assignment for the Center for Strategic Studies. Again, to tell you the subject of Alicia’s study would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say, the results of her number crunching reveal a vast conspiracy that could pull down the American government.
Now, the real action begins! After an eerie portent a banshee yowls, synchronicity rears its head, and Alicia is forcibly evacuated from the roof of the CSS office as terrorists attack the building. Then after Alex is struck down protecting the president, his best friend leads a shadow army of former South Vietnamese soldiers against the conspirators, and targeted battles in major cities play out across the country. Yet, the final bloody conflict of the secret war takes place in Europe, illustrating the international scope of the conspiracy.
And the romance between Alex and Alicia? That final skirmish takes place in a particularly beautiful village in France.
Just before Midnight uses the typical plot lines of romance, coming-of-age and breathtaking adventure to illustrate a world we don’t necessarily understand, and I don’t mean the banshee. The covert activities of governments, the over-arching influence of international finance and the role of counterintelligence in defending America are brilliantly woven into the narrative.
The author’s intent is to educate -- especially young women -- that national security is the preeminent issue of our era, overshadowing the other, still-relevant issues of the 1980s that appear in the book’s timeline. Having spent most of his career in or about national security policy, Charles Viar succeeds in imparting his message inside a timeless tale.
Just before Midnight will engage readers of both sexes and all ages. I loved it, and, to put it gently, I graduated college in 1974 and remember vividly the Washington of the early ‘80s, in which the tale is set; my 64-year-old husband enjoyed it immensely; and my 89 year-old mother wants her copy right now. I am eagerly awaiting the reviews of my two twenty-something nieces!
If you are a CFIS member, you already have an interest in the intelligence dimension of national security. You could help others understand this complex and fascinating aspect of national defense by making a gift of Just Before Midnightto the young women in your life, or to your local library!
Reviewed by Janet Ruegg Wynne
AND NOW FOR A MAN'S TAKE...
Recently graduated from a small‐town college and considerably brighter than the average bear, ingénue Alicia McAllister, arrives in Washington, DC, jobless and broke. Through a set of fortuitous coincidences she, finds herself at the heart of an investigation into a plot by covert forces to kill then-President Reagan and overthrow the United States government.
Though her own expertise is in economics, as was her college major, Alicia’s greatest strength is in her ability to extract meaning from financial records and convert them to cogent conclusions. This stands her in good stead as she peruses a secret trove of Soviet economic data amassed by her employer, an influential Washington think‐tank whose principals themselves possess stellar intellectual and investigative abilities.
It is through Alicia’s dogged deconstruction of these economic records that a shadowy picture emerges of the existence of a covert entity supported financially by funds diverted from budgets that are themselves obscure and intended to be so. We are treated to a glimpse, though itself shrouded in uncertainty, of players in a “great game” where the players themselves are ill-defined and, though their methods may be equally unclear, their motives are chilling and their goals absolute.
Once the plot is uncovered the detective work ends, Just Before Midnight moves toward a grand finale as the plotters make their move. In an explosive demonstration that even the most stringently secure projects — such as Alicia’s — are themselves vulnerable to penetration by the opposition, the book ends in a fast‐moving sequence of attack, counter‐attack, firefights, escapes and suspense.
While he has created an eminently readable novel capable at times of keeping one on the edge of the seat, author Charles Viar manages at the same time to make it possible for lay readers to understand the road‐to‐ruin folly inherent in America’s present debt-based currency system.
Viar presumably knows something whereof he speaks. Having spent decades in and about the national security apparatus, including a stint at the Reagan White House, he couples that background with a clear understanding of the debt based banking system upon which our nation’s fiscal house of cards is built. As described by G. Edward Griffin in his The Creature from Jekyll Island, it is a system that professes to “convert debt into money” and “is not intended to be logical, but to confuse and deceive.”
Viar currently is chairman of The Center For Intelligence Studies, a real‐life organization not entirely different from Alicia’s own fictional think‐tank, the Center for Strategic Studies.
Reviewed by Anthony H. Ryan
JAMES JESUS ANGLETON,
THE CIA, AND THE CRAFT OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE
The best biography to date of the life and times of the CIA's legendary Chief of Counterintelligence. Brilliantly written.
From the author of James Jesus Angleton: The CIA and the Craft of Counterintelligence
Guy Burgess: Revolutionary in an Old School Tie is based on extensive research in archives, including those of the BBC, Eton, King’s College (Cambridge), Christ Church (Oxford), the National Archives (Kew) and many others. It is the first book to take Burgess seriously as a political figure, interpreting his espionage activities in the context of the Depression, the Second World War and the first years of the Cold War. Guy Burgess: Revolutionary in an Old School Tie shows how Burgess used his flamboyant personality to conceal his extraordinary activities as the center of the Cambridge Five spy ring and how, after his departure for Moscow, that personality and his well-known homosexuality, were used by the British Establishment as part of its effort to minimize knowledge of his effectiveness as an agent.
Michael Holzman is a political and literary historian. He has written about the relationship between the poetry and politics of William Morris, about the Hungarian philosopher Georg Lukacs (Lukacs’s Road to God), about issues of politics, adult literacy and education (Writing As Social Action). He is the author of James Jesus Angleton, The CIA and the Craft of Counterintelligence (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), which was the subject of the lead (front-page) review in a June, 2009, issue of the Times Literary Supplement and has published related work on the origins of the field of American Studies. In addition, he has been a consultant and researcher for major foundations concerned with improving education in the United States, China and the Middle East and written a novel, Transgressions. He received his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego. He lives in the Hudson River Valley of New York.
Dr. Holzman maintains that he is not now, nor has ever been, an agent of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
CFIS Editor's Note: If he were, we're reasonably confident the SVR would have shot him by now.
The FBI claims to be the world's premier law enforcement service.
Perhaps it is, but claims of proficiency in counterintelligence and counterterrorism are far less plausible. Apparently, the Bureau can police everyone but itself.
This is a truly shocking insider account of the incompetence, mismanagement, infighting and - possibly - treason within the FBI.
Written by a former CIA office who was intimately involved in the Nosenko case, this is also one of the best public-source introductions to counterintelligence ever written.
Essential reading for all who are interested in international conflict.
The ongoing fiasco in the Mid East isn't an accident. It's part of a a much larger, century-old plan to establish a New World Order through a strategy of global "Oil Control."
This book is truly essential reading for anyone attempting to understand 9-11 and its consequences.
Essential background for understanding the role of debt in democratic societies - and the most basic cause of the present financial crisis. Written by a former financier, this profoundly biased but still illuminating history of public debt is well worth reading - if for no other reason, to understand the mind set of those who so recently proclaimed themselves "The Masters of the Universe."
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