Sunday, January 30, 2022

What is Paul Vidich reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Paul Vidich, author of The Matchmaker: A Spy in Berlin.

His entry begins:
On the evening of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall, an enduring symbol of the Cold War, came down. It was a momentous night. No shots were fired and no lives were lost, but it was the beginning of the end of the forty-year long Cold War. The repressive East German government fell and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later.

The fall of the Berlin Wall is central to my new historical novel. Berlin happens to be a city that has been a deep well for well for espionage fiction. Nikita Khrushchev called Berlin “a swampland of spies.” Berlin was the friction point between the Communist Block and the NATO Alliance, and you had all these spies running around. Both sides recruited sources, placed penetration agents, and when necessary, undertook legally sanctioned criminal activity against each other.

Five books were important resources for the six months of research that I did. The books capture the drama of the Wall’s collapse and provide insight into East German’s pain of displacement in the weeks and months afterward.

The Berlin Wall’s opening was not planned by the East German ruling regime—nor was it the result of a bargain between either President Ronald Reagan or President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The accidental opening is superbly told in The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall, in which prize-winning historian Mary Elise Sarotte reveals how a perfect storm of decisions made by daring underground revolutionaries, disgruntled Stasi officers, and dictatorial party bosses sparked an unexpected series of events culminating in the chaotic fall of the Wall. Sarotte brings to life a story that sweeps across Budapest, Prague, and Leipzig and on to the armed checkpoints in Berlin. The Collapse offers...[read on]
About The Matchmaker, from the publisher:
In the vein of Graham Greene and John le Carré, The Matchmaker delivers a chilling Cold War spy story set in West Berlin, where an American woman targeted by the Stasi must confront the truth behind her German husband's mysterious disappearance.

Berlin, 1989. Protests across East Germany threaten the Iron Curtain and Communism is the ill man of Europe.

Anne Simpson, an American who works as a translator at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee, thinks she is in a normal marriage with a charming East German. But then her husband disappears, and the CIA and Western German intelligence arrive at her door.

Nothing about her marriage is as it seems. She had been targeted by the Matchmaker—a high level East German counterintelligence officer—who runs a network of Stasi agents. These agents are his "Romeos" who marry vulnerable women in West Berlin to provide them with cover as they report back to the Matchmaker. Anne has been married to a spy, and now he has disappeared, and is presumably dead.

The CIA are desperate to find the Matchmaker because of his close ties to the KGB. They believe he can establish the truth about a high-ranking Soviet defector. They need Anne because she's the only person who has seen his face - from a photograph that her husband mistakenly left out in his office - and she is the CIA’s best chance to identify him before the Matchmaker escapes to Moscow. Time is running out as the Berlin Wall falls and chaos engulfs East Germany.

But what if Anne's husband is not dead? And what if Anne has her own motives for finding the Matchmaker to deliver a different type of justice?
Visit Paul Vidich's website.

Q&A with Paul Vidich.

My Book, The Movie: The Mercenary.

The Page 69 Test: The Mercenary.

Writers Read: Paul Vidich.

--Marshal Zeringue