A poignant encounter between father and son – across the gap of generations and the moral abyss of the Cold War. John Hadden shows how the wounds of the past refuse to heal, and how acknowledging that truth can open into hard won wisdom –– and even love.
James Carroll, author of An American Requiem
How spies work. How spies think. And how an American spy struggled to be a decent father. All of that, and more, in this eloquent book by a CIA officer’s son.
Dan Raviv, author, Spies Against Armageddon and Every Spy a Prince
Although the background story ranges from Cold War Germany and the
relatively new state of Israel to James Jesus Angleton’s paranoid CIA of the
1960’s, the real story-telling in Conversations with a Masked Man takes
place over a dining room table in Maine. Is there life after espionage? The
tape is playing. The inquisition begins. The father, the man with all the
answers, is a professional keeper of secrets disguised as an affable wit. His
son, the questioner, is a professionally masked man, an actor. Their
dialogues give new meaning to the term “intelligence failure,” for it is not
the intelligence of this pragmatic father and his idealistic son that connects
them, but their stubborn devotion to each other. Years of gamesmanship
have failed to unite them; now, in a series of intimate conversations, they
discover how story-telling might allow them to remove their masks and love
each other as father and son.
Erica Funkhouser, author of Imaginary Friends, Day Work, Earthly, Pursuit, The actual world, Sure Shot and Other Poems, and Natural Affinities
Family espionage at its finest. Rebellious son interrogates his spook father about the glory days of CIA, yielding disturbing truths of secrets, familial and political. Jefferson Morley, journalist, author of Our Man In Mexico.
Father. Spy. Equally mysterious. John Hadden pursues this elusive, irascible patriarch and finds him to be as difficult to decode as the fortress of adult masculinity. With his back turned on the world, the elder Hadden finally reveals the inner logic of the Cold War CIA and his own curious way of expressing love. Conversations with a Masked Man prompts us to ask: how do we make sense of the epic relationship between father and son? Beautifully written, captivating, disturbing – I couldn’t put it down!
Karen Hansen , author of Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930
John Hadden’s Conversations With a Masked Man is by turns a paternal
biography, personal memoir, family saga, CIA history, and Cold War spy thriller –
all folded into a psychologically penetrating work of literature. This book will also
be of interest to anyone exploring the commonalities and divergences between
one’s self and one’s parents with a view to better understanding the dynamic that
has made us, respectively, who we are.
Eric Darton, author of Divided We Stand: A Biography of the World Trade
This lovely biography/memoir is about a story of father, son, and the fabric of the espionage craft. As someone who knew (and loved) John Hadden, an extraordinary spy master indeed, I find this a moving read. It was written with love, care, and curiosity of a son who tries to figure out who his father was. A fascinating tale.
Avner Cohen, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, author of
The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb
We grow up under the spell and influence of our parents, but we know so little of who they are, beyond their role as our parents. We all wonder, but most of us never ask. Conversations With A Masked Man is a beautifully written look into the frightening world of covert espionage, and a tenacious, heartfelt attempt by a son to infiltrate his father’s secrecy and silence, and find whatever common ground exists between them.
Cindy Kleine, documentary film-maker (Andre Gregory: Before and After Dinner)