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Last Days of the Condor (Hardcover)
Montana-born James Grady has been writing about the abuses of govenmental power for a long time. Graduating college with a degree in journalism, he witnessed how DC worked as a young staffer in a Montana Senator’s office in the post-Watergate era. He went on to work with columnist and investigating journalist Jack Anderson.
In 1974 he published the political and espionage thriller Six Days of the Condor, which became a bestseller and then a movie (Three Days of the Condor, directed by Sydney Pollack.) It was the story of a CIA analyst who worked in a secret department that read everything – novels, articles, newspapers, domestic and foreign – and wrote reports about stories and plots that might conceivably be releasing important intel. One of the workers writes a report that exposes an illegal, covert op and those involved murder everyone in the unit while the guy who wrote it is out getting lunch. You only know him by his code name within the agency: Condor. I think for many people who had not yet been enlightened by congressional investigations like the Church Committee, the idea that there would be off-the-books and illegal operations by the CIA was just what it was in this novel – fiction.
Grady’s second book, Shadow of the Condor, followed the agent as he goes from office drone to in-the-field agent. That was 1975. His original thought was to trace Condor in five books, from novice to burned-out veteran agent. But then he decided to not get pigeon-holed.
In 2006 came Mad Dogs, the story of a secret “hospital” (read prison) where old/retired/burned-out agents are kept drugged and passified. It was a fun book, but I don’t recall Condor being specifically named as one of them.
Now comes Last Days of the Condor. Turns out he was held in that Maine “hospital” for a time, is still heavily medicated, and is living a quiet and haunted life in DC. Between the new book and the first, he had been an active agent, as well as a spymaster, running agents underneath him. His actions have taken a great toll and while he may be fried emotionally and spiritually, there’s still a great deal of spycraft in the silver-haired Condor. And there are still things he believes in, even if no one else does. “You are the line you stand on.” Condor will do what he can to hold that line.
The heart of the book is, as with Six Days, he and his running mates – two very strong and interesting women – trying to figure out who to trust and who wants them dead. The answers are entirely chilling: a security system… well, don’t want to ruin the surprise.
Let’s put it this way: “The V uses people and sytems to get things done and they never realize it. Soldiers or cops or office managers or guys on the street never know who put them there. They do the job they’re supposed to do. No extra pay, no full knowledge, no big picture the V doesn’t control. The best puppets don’t know they have strings.”
It’s an ominous resolution to the story. Grady leaves you thinking he is not just giving you an warning about the security state run amok – which we all know it has – to the feeling that he’s telling you what is really going on, not just warning about a possibility. He’s done that, time and again, since Six Days of the Condor.
He’s done it expertly and entertainingly – even while he’s scaring the bejesus out of you.— JB
Look in the mirror: You're nobody anybody knows. You know pursuing the truth will get you killed. But you refuse to just fade away.
So you're designated an enemy of the largest secret national security apparatus in America's history. Good guys or bad guys, it doesn't matter: All assassins' guns are aimed at you. And you run for your life branded with the code name you made iconic: "Condor."
Everyone you care about is pulled into the gunsights. The CIA star young enough to be your daughter-she might shoot you or save you. The savvy political aide who lets love trump the law. The lonely woman your romantic dreams make a fugitive. The Middle Eastern child warrior you mentored into a master spy.
"Last Days of the Condor "is the bullet-paced, ticking clock saga of America on the edge of our most startling spy world revolution since 9/11. Set in the savage streets and Kafkaesque corridors of Washington, DC, shot through with sex and suspense, with secret agent tradecraft and full-speed action, with hunters and the hunted, "Last Days of the Condor" is a breakneck saga of America's secrets from muckraking investigative reporter and author James Grady.
About the Author
JAMES GRADY is the New York Times bestselling author of Six Days of the Condor, which became the Robert Redford movie Three Days Of The Condor. Besides working as a screenwriter for CBS, FX, HBO, and major studios, his journalism includes street time as a muckraker for columnist Jack Anderson after Watergate and being a cultural columnist for AOL's PoliticsDaily.com. Born and raised in Montana, Grady and his wife, writer Bonnie Goldstein, live inside DC's Beltway.