Circle of Treason

A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed
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Published:November 15, 2013
By Sandra Grimes (Author), Jeanne Vertefeuille (Author)

Circle of Treason is also available in an audio edition from Audible via Amazon.

While there have been other books about Aldrich Ames, Circle of Treason is the first account written by CIA agents who were key members of the CIA team that conducted the intense “Ames Mole Hunt.” Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille were two of the five principals of the CIA team tasked with hunting one of their own and were directly responsible for identifying Ames as the mole, leading to his arrest and conviction.

One of the most destructive traitors in American history, CIA officer Aldrich Ames provided information to the Soviet Union that contributed to the deaths of at least ten Soviet intelligence officers who spied for the United States. In this book, the two CIA officers directly responsible for tracking down Ames chronicle their involvement in the hunt for a mole. Considering it their personal mission, Grimes and Vertefeuille dedicated themselves to identifying the traitor responsible for the execution or imprisonment of the Soviet agents with whom they worked. Their efforts eventually led them to a long-time acquaintance and coworker in the CIA’s Soviet-East European division and Counterintelligence Center, Aldrich Ames.

Not only is this the first book to be written by the CIA principals involved, but it is also the first to provide details of the operational contact with the agents Ames betrayed. The book covers the political aftermath of Ames’s arrest, including the Congressional wrath for not identifying him sooner, the FBI/CIA debriefings following Ames’s plea bargain, and a retrospective of Ames the person and Ames the spy. It is also the compelling story of two female agents, who overcame gender barriers and succeeded in bringing Ames to justice in a historically male-oriented organization. Now retired from the CIA, Grimes and Vertefeuille are finally able to tell this inside story of the CIA’s most notorious traitor and the men he betrayed.

List Price: $21.95
Member Price: $17.56
Product Details
  • Subject: Espionage/Intelligence
  • Paperback : 240 pages
  • Illustrations: 18
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (November 15, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1591143969
  • ISBN-13: 9781591143963
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 13.12 oz
  • “The authors provide intriguing insights into the background and tradecraft of a number of productive operations the CIA ran against the GRU and KGB from the 1960s through the 1980s. They also show how, when operations went wrong or were compromised by traitors, sources paid with their lives. Circle of Treason has the advantage of being written by two intelligence professionals, not by academics or journalists, and thus is an authoritative account of the Soviet sources that were providing the U.S. with invaluable information during the Cold War until Ames betrayed them. Because classified material on operational cases was going to be made public, the CIA took over three years to approve the book's publication. The authors note that 90% of the disputes were resolved in their favor.” —The Wall Street Journal
  • "In a brutally frank account of CIA traitor Aldrich Ames's career, Grimes, a 26-year veteran of the CIA's Clandestine Service, and Vertefeuille, a long-time CIA counterintelligence officer, pull back the curtain on the hunt for an American who spent years working for the KGB without being discovered. Espionage buffs will love the details taken from previously classified CIA files, as well as a penetrating view of him as an "All-American boy" and spy. Well-researched and written in a clear, no-frills style, this fascinating Cold War saga will allow any American without a security clearance to better understand how Aldrich Ames could have become one of the most damaging moles in U.S. intelligence history." —Publishers Weekly
  • “What makes this volume interesting is that it was written by longtime CIA insiders, who saw firsthand how the agency’s network inside the Soviet Union crumbled. They write authentic sketches of agents working for the CIA who were betrayed by Ames, such as Dmitriy Polyakov, a general in the GRU (Soviet military intelligence), the highest-ranking Soviet official in uniform to spy for the United States during the Cold War, who was arrested and executed after Ames identified him. This book adds an insider perspective to the bookshelf…” —The Washington Post
  • “All in all, Circle of Treason is a disturbing read, but an essential one for anyone interested in the intricate detail work involved in a counterintelligence investigation -- and a tribute to two women who helped push it to a conclusion.” — The Washington Times
  • Circle of Treason is an enormously important account of a complex, often frustrating, case written by those who did much of the work to break it.”—Studies in Intelligence
  • “…[A] fine book which is gripping without any pyrotechnics, a story that could not be told except by the women who brought Ames down.” — The Dispatch (Columbus, MS)
  • “The Ames story of vast treasonous duplicity may have been often told, but this is an insiders’ perspective, with clarifying details and upfront identification of the vicious damages, the sad glories and the assorted ‘warts’ of the case. It provides an extraordinarily detailed discussion of the agents and their secrets betrayed by Ames, with stunning assessments of the devastating losses for all structural and human components. Having met the criteria and demands of the CIA’s Publications and Review Board provides prima facie notice of cooperation, but the depth and intricacy of the revelations simply must be seen in print to be believed. Whatever the rationale for the unabashed candor, there is a truism [that has always been known inside Langley but not always in a Hollywood context], ‘you could not make up this stuff.’ Indeed Mmes. Grimes and Vertefeuille, did not make it up, but relate it in intimate, excruciating, and spellbinding details, making it all the more extraordinary and worth reading.” — American Ex-Prisoners of War Bulletin
  • Circle of Treason, written by two women CIA employees—Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille—is an extraordinary tribute to their training, ingenuity, years of service and access to CIA top secret files, Soviet agents collaborating with the CIA, and FBI colleagues. It took them years to uncover the CIA mole in their midst. The book is a tribute to their work.” —Betty McIntosh, retired CIA officer and author of Sisterhood of Spies
  • “This is an important contribution to the field of literature. Although there are a half dozen books dealing with the Aldrich Ames case, they are of very differing quality and none contains all the background information on sources which CIA recruited inside the KGB and GRU that this book contains. Also, this is an ‘insider’ story. These two women actually participated in the running of some of these operations, watched their sources being arrested and executed by the Soviets, and then spent years of their lives uncovering Ames, the ‘mole’ who gave it all away. Very engagingly written. For me it was a page-turner!” —RADM Thomas A. Brooks, USN (Ret.), former Director of Naval Intelligence
  • “Only the authors of Circle of Treason could write this fascinating insider account, which not only deals with their tenacious, painstaking pursuit of the CIA's most damaging spy but also reveals the extraordinary efforts the CIA took to ensure the safety of its sources fighting the oppressive Soviet regime. This is essential reading for intelligence professionals and for anyone interested in the day-to-day reality behind Cold War espionage.” —Michael Sulick, former Director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service
  • “You can now read the insiders’ own, long-awaited account of the unmasking and capture of Aldrich Ames, the most notorious and damaging CIA officer to ever work as a KGB mole inside the Agency. This is the team that caught him. This is the story of how they did it. His betrayal greatly damaged U.S. national security, led to the executions of at least 8 courageous Soviet intelligence officers, and roiled the U.S. Intelligence Community for years. No picture of this infamous case is complete without this gripping narrative by the investigators themselves.” —Peter Earnest, Executive Director, International Spy Museum
  • “A story that only two CIA mole hunters could tell, Circle of Treason fills the gaps in earlier books, giving readers a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of how America’s worst CIA traitor, Aldrich Ames, was unmasked. Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille put human faces on his many victims, revealing important details about their personal lives, motivations, and the incredible secrets they provided us that cost them imprisonment or their lives. A thoroughly researched and riveting, must read.” —Pete Earley, author of Confessions of a Spy: The Real Story of Aldrich Ames
  • “Writing with inside knowledge and access, retired CIA officers Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille bring clarity and vivid color to the complex and often misunderstood story of the Aldrich Ames spy case. They were involved, supporting CIA’s most important cases in the Soviet Union, first witnessing the arrests of valuable agents and then uncovering Ames’ treachery with hard work and brilliant insights. Circle of Treason is a page-turner, the real story a thousand times more interesting than spy novels and fictional movies.” —Burton Gerber, retired CIA operations officer, co-editor of and contributor to Transforming U.S. Intelligence and Vaults Mirrors and Masks: Rediscovering U.S. Counterintelligence

Sandra Grimes was a twenty-six year veteran of CIA’s Clandestine Service who spent the majority of her career working against the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She joined the CIA in July 1967 shortly after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Russian. A mother of two grown daughters and four grandchildren, she currently lives in Great Falls, Virginia, with her husband of forty-plus years.

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Jeanne Vertefeuille was a CIA officer during the Cold War 1954-1992, specializing in the Soviet target, particularly in the Counterintelligence area. She led the small task force which resulted in the arrest of Soviet mole Aldrich Ames in 1994. Subsequently she served on contract as an analyst 1993-present and died just after the publication of the book in hardcover.

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Circle of Treason is also available in an audio edition from Audible via Amazon. While there have...Read More

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