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My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File (Paperback)
  • My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File (Paperback)
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My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File (Paperback)

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£24.99
Paperback 344 Pages / Published: 08/05/2018
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As Katherine Verdery observes, "There's nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are." In 1973 Verdery began her doctoral fieldwork in the Transylvanian region of Romania, ruled at the time by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police-the Securitate-compiled a massive surveillance file on her. Reading through its 2,781 pages, she learned that she was "actually" a spy, a CIA agent, a Hungarian agitator, and a friend of dissidents: in short, an enemy of Romania. In My Life as a Spy she analyzes her file alongside her original field notes and conversations with Securitate officers. Verdery also talks with some of the informers who were close friends, learning the complex circumstances that led them to report on her, and considers how fieldwork and spying can be easily confused. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822370819
Number of pages: 344
Weight: 476 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"A memoir with the exciting elements of an espionage thriller. . . . This work of anthropological intrigue shows the author's academic coming-of-age." -- Karl Helicher * Foreword *
"Fascinating, thoughtful and occasionally riveting." -- James Ryerson * New York Times Book Review *
"Coming from such a distinguished academic, Verdery's brutally honest description of herself, including as a naive and careless young scholar, is stunning. Few books reflect so frankly and so powerfully on the nature and complications of an academic career." * Foreign Affairs *
"This book raises provocative points about the effect of surveillance that will appeal to most readers." -- Laurie Unger Skinner * Library Journal *
"To read one's police file is-suddenly-to have the curtain pulled open. The self you think you know becomes a mask, concealing a devious somebody else whose relationships are mere espionage fakes. . . . [An] unforgettable book." -- Neal Ascherson * London Review of Books *
"This book constitutes an excellent, detailed foray into the workings of a surveillance state in the Soviet bloc. But ultimately, this book's strength emerges from its transparency concerning anthropological methodologies, an openness that comprises a foundational read for not only anthropology students but also for any social scientist working in post-socialist states." -- Sabrina Papazian * EuropeNow *
"Surely one of the finest and most thoughtful accounts of modern surveillance that we possess." -- Mark Mazower * Times Literary Supplement *
"Joining a growing body of literature based on secret police archival documents, Verdery's book stands out as she deploys her craft of anthropologist to examine the unexpected material. . . . By investigating one of its most elusive yet powerful apparatuses, the Securitate, Verdery creates an enthralling ethnography of the Communist state. . . . My Life as a Spy will teach anthropology, sociology, and history students much about methodology, and it is exemplary in exposing the dilemmas inherent in that methodology." -- Irina Culic * American Ethnologist *
"My Life as a Spy is Verdery's masterpiece. . . . This is a book that should be read by all anthropologists and taught across the globe - a beautifully written, deeply engaged and engaging text that shows just what a wonderful and revelatory discipline anthropology can be when in the hands of committed and resourceful scholars." -- Michael Stewart * Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute *
"This captivating memoir is like none I have read before. . . . A masterpiece." -- Kate Brown * Slavic Review *
"Every anthropologist should read this book." -- Steven Sampson * PoLAR Online *

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