Tag Archives: non-fiction

“The billion dollar spy” by David E. Hoffman


The main character of this non-fiction book is Adolf Tolkachev, a soviet engineer at a top secret military defense institute in Moscow. He spied voluntarily for almost 7 years and had 21 meetings with undercover CIA officers right under the nose of KGB in late 79s-early 80s. Tolkachev delivered to the United States a library of top secret documents about the design and capability of radars deployed on Soviet fighters and interceptors. It saved billions to the United States at the expense of the soviet military. He was caught due to a defected CIA officer who sold him to KGB for a bit of money and «refuge » in Russia. Howard did this in revenge of CIA kicking him out after a failed polygraph test just before his assignment to work with Tolkachev.

As I was reading the book, I realised that as I was peacefully playing outdoors, men in suits were also playing a game called « whose’s longer » in their race to dominate the world. I also thought that spies are literally made by systems. I do not mean the trainings. I mean by how the system they devote themselves wholeheartedly breaks them ruthlessly to the point of no return. Be it in Soviet Union or in the United States.

“Just Mercy. A story of justice and redemption” by Bryan Stevenson


The book had a humbling effect on me. Bryan STEVENSON, founder of Equal Justice Initiative, is a trully remarkable personality. He achieved remarkable things in overturning century old court practices where black and poor, white and poor stood no chance.

The book was fascinating to read as it was written from the juncture where the author exquisitely brought the criminal justice public policies, law, justice and the lives of ordinary Americans. As Bryan puts it: “I worked in a broken system of justice. My clients were broken by mental illness, poverty, and racism. They were torn apart by disease, drugs and alcohol, pride, fear, and anger.”

The narrative is so human that it makes you shed tears of joy for the won legal battles and tears of sadness for lives lost on the death rows. “Why do we want to kill all the broken people? What is wrong with us, that we think a thing like that can be right?” Broken Americans suffering from serious mental illness, abused and neglected children, traumatised mothers, disabled, drugs dependent …

“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.” Then read this “a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent” And think about it. It triggers a revolt, when in development management contexts, that system is proclaimed as the best to follow. A bit of sobriety is a must. Despite America’s preeminent status among developed nations, it has always struggled with high rates of infant mortality. And it then creates a hysteria around “bad mothers” all to eager to incarcerate them.

My favourite part:

‘I began thinking about what would happen if we all just acknowledged our brokenness, if we owned up to our weaknesses, our deficits, our biases, our fears. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t want to kill the broken among us who have killed others. Maybe we would look harder for solutions to caring for the disabled, the abused, the neglected, and the traumatized.”