Overworld: The Life and Times of a Reluctant Spy

( 7 )


A vivid and gripping portrait of a spy at every stage of his life and career, from the son of a spymaster who became a spy himself.

Larry Kolb was born into a house of spies. Raised all over the world as the son of a high-ranking American spymaster, Kolb was taught by his father to think, look, and listen like a spy. But when Kolb himself was recruited to join the CIA, he declined, choosing instead to pursue a career in business. He became, ...
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A vivid and gripping portrait of a spy at every stage of his life and career, from the son of a spymaster who became a spy himself.

Larry Kolb was born into a house of spies. Raised all over the world as the son of a high-ranking American spymaster, Kolb was taught by his father to think, look, and listen like a spy. But when Kolb himself was recruited to join the CIA, he declined, choosing instead to pursue a career in business. He became, among other things, Muhammad Ali's agent, a role that turned out to be a circuitous route back to the world of espionage.

At Ali's side, Kolb had invitations to the parties, palaces, boardrooms, and bedrooms-especially in the Middle East-of many of the world's wealthiest and most powerful people: political leaders, arms dealers, global opinion-makers. Kolb's extraordinary access made him irresistible to legendary spymaster and CIA cofounder Miles Copeland. Beginning with secret negotiations with the Ayatollah Khomeini and a covert mission to Beirut to negotiate the release of an American hostage, Kolb found his way back to the family business, becoming Miles Copeland's eyes and ears and sometimes mouth in Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, and Pakistan.

Unlike any book before it, Overworld captures what it genuinely means and feels like to be a spy--from the practical to the emotional, revealing how the world of espionage and covert statecraft actually works-and exposing the dark heart of a life spent betraying confidences. In itself an adventure story of the highest order, Overworld reads like the best of John le Carré --but it's all true.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As Kolb spins a tale of international intrigue in which he does everything from accompany Muhammad Ali on a mission to free American hostages in Beirut to introduce Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega to an Indian holy man, it's awfully tempting to consider him a hoaxster a la Chuck Barris-but all it takes is a little online research to produce corroborating details. Kolb actually is connected to international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi by marriage; stories in Indian newspapers confirm that government wants him in connection with a plot against a former premier involving that same holy man. Pretty soon, a reader will believe that Kolb, the son of a Cold War intelligence operative who grew up in post-WWII Japan and Germany, really was recruited by legendary spy Miles Copeland because his jet-setting lifestyle put him in all the right places. Slangily written from a safe house "on a sunny shore," Kolb's recollection of his training in the fundamentals of spycraft is a particularly engrossing section that will leave readers convinced they know enough to run their own clandestine operations. It's the centerpiece around which he weaves a slew of anecdotes stretching back to WWII, producing a cumulative effect that renders the whole story so amazing that readers will conclude that even the wildest bits-like his taking credit for rewriting the blueprints for the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages deal-have got to be true. Agent, Joel Gotler. (Oct. 7) Forecast: As Bond-like as Kim Philby, but with a decidely American accent, Kolb could turn out to have a sleeper hit; film rights have been bought by Mark Canton of Atmosphere Entertainment. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Kolb takes the reader on a rollicking, stream-of-consciousness tour of his remarkable life as an international businessman who also actively spied for the United States. He was raised in a family of spies and grew up traveling the world as his father shuttled from posting to posting. Recruited by the CIA in his twenties, Kolb initially fled to the world of business, but after a stint as Muhammad Ali's personal financial adviser, he ended up under the tutelage of CIA spook Miles Copeland. Soon he found himself working undercover in places like Beirut, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. Here, Kolb shares his insights into the craft of spying and describes both the daily boredom (interrupted by moments of terror) and the sometimes hilarious misadventures that often result when confusion and misinformation combine with serious purposes. By his late forties, Kolb has annoyed enough of the wrong people that he is now living in a safehouse somewhere in Florida, where he finally has time to write his memoirs. This is a fascinating story, even if we will never know how much is actually true. For larger collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/04.]-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641704468
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/7/2004
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.44 (h) x 1.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry J. Kolb was born in Virginia but grew up all over the world. The son of a senior U.S. Intelligence official, he rejected his father's profession but was then drawn back into it. Prior to entering the covert world, he acted as agent for several professional athletes, including Muhammad Ali. Once he was recruited by C.I.A. cofounder Miles Copeland, Kolb was involved in covert intrigues in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and India. Now 47, Kolb lives in an undisclosed location.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
Part I The spy Who Loved me
1 Portrait of My Father Digging Up a Dead Baby 7
2 The Fight 22
3 Unter den Linden 41
4 Dark Side of the Moon 51
5 Portrait of My Father Combing His Hair 62
6 The Inferno 76
7 Paradise Regained 97
Part II Peers of the Realm
8 The Mortician's Comb 117
9 Chapter Written Under Duress 128
10 Alpes-Maritime 143
11 Sophisticated Assassination 152
12 Awaiting the Sheikh in the Garden of Nipples 165
Part III The Game of Nations
13 The Dead Sea Scrolls 181
14 The Robe 195
15 Casino du Liban 207
16 Ars Diplomatica 230
17 Ars Poetica 248
18 A Unified Theory of the Secret World 276
19 Golconda 299
20 Oxfordshire 314
21 Faith Dealer 322
22 My Traitor's Heart 337
Part IV Sweet White Smoke
23 Portrait of the Author Assassinating the King of Manda 359
24 The Sheikh's New Bracelet 381
25 The Fat Man 393
26 The Rules of Evidence 403
27 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Kilo Oscar 413
28 Notes from Underground 418
29 Portrait of the Author as King 435
Epilogue 453
Acknowledgments 463
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2006


    If one tenth of what Larry Kolb writes here is true, he has already led one of the greatest lives of all time. And even if 90% of the book is fiction, he can write like a son-of-a-gun. Highly recommended.

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