Paul Brodeur

Secrets: A Writer in the Cold War

The legacy of the Cold War is explored as Brodeur describes his career as an investigative reporter for The New Yorker, and crosses swords with the FBI, the CIA, the military, and the State Department. The author accuses the Department of lying to its employees and the American people about the Soviet irradiation of the American Embassy in Moscow, and backs it up by revealing testimony of the daughter of Ambassador Walter Stoessel, who died of leukemia he developed while stationed in Moscow.

In Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, Part III, Michael Corleone says of the Mafia, which he is trying to leave, "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in.'' Such is the experience of the New Yorker's Brodeur (The Great Power-Line Cover- Up, 1993, etc.), who joined the American intelligence community shortly after WW II. Brodeur retired disgusted with the regular extortion, browbeating, and lack of regard for human dignity in their interrogations of suspected spies in divided postwar Germany.

Unfortunately, as Brodeur goes on to uncover the environmental threats that made him famous (asbestos, microwave radiation, etc.), he finds the military-industrial complex cropping up again and again, with old associates turning up to spy on him under the guise of friendship. While much of Secrets concerns Brodeur's discoveries of the scandals about which he has written, he also turns the lens on himself, using his novelist's flair for allegory to include bits about his personal secrets--an older brother whose existence his father had kept from him, his own two-year-old son's death from choking, his broken first marriage.

While this information gives an insight into Brodeur that we haven't had before, the writer is still strongest when exposing the powers that be, whether it is CIA involvement in covert operations all over the globe since the Eisenhower administration, giving special attention to those areas we know less about, such as the Congo or Indonesia, or whether it's J. Edgar Hoover's destruction of the life of actress Jean Seberg, who committed suicide over her support of the Black Panthers. Brodeur covers post Cold War America with a broad indictment of Justice Department foul-ups in Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Olympic bombing in Atlanta. Sexagenarian Brodeur has produced a retrospective that proves his writing can still pack a punch.

Kirkus Reviews

Despite its lack of an uplifting sermon, this book deserves as many readers as can pass the security clearance. Mr. Brodeur writes honestly and well, with humor, an acute sense of history and a fine gift for phrase.

Lewis H. Lapham, The New York Times Book Review

Selected Works

A Native American warrior encourages his people to rise up against the Pilgrim and Puritan invaders of 17th Century New England.
An AWOL army trainee kills a movie stunt man and is tricked by the director of the film into replacing the dead stunt man in a film about a man fleeing from the army
A haunting and heart-felt collection of short stories about love and loss
An American counterintelligence agent in postwar Germany and his doomed good intentions.
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An examination of the health hazards posed by electromagnetic fields emanating from neighborhood power lines, workplace machinery, and electrical equipment.
A pioneering analysis showing that exposure to microwave radiation poses significant health hazards.
A book about the land claims of the Mashpee Wampanoag, who live on Cape Cod, and of the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, who live in Maine.
How a handful of plaintiff attorneys exposed the asbestos industry's fifty-year cover-up of its responsibility for the deaths of tens of thousands of workers, and won compensation for their survivors.
A description of the deadly danger posed by exposure to asbestos, and the machinations of a medical-industrial establishment whose members conspire to keep knowledge of occupational and environmental health hazards from public knowledge.
A book containing pioneering articles that appeared in The New Yorker, describing the nationwide health hazards posed by exposure to asbestos, and to household detergents containing flesh-eating enzymes that found their way into 50 million American households before being withdrawn, largely as a result of Brodeur's work.
Brodeur describes his stint as a counterintelligence agent in post-war Germany, and his long career as an investigative journalist at The New Yorker, during which he crosses swords with the military, the CIA, FBI and State Department to reveal a dark and unacknowledged legacy of the Cold War.

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