Gods of Deception

Gods of Deception

by David Adams Cleveland
Gods of Deception

Gods of Deception

by David Adams Cleveland


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At age ninety-five, Judge Edward Dimock, patriarch of his family and the man who defended accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the famous 1950 Cold War “trial of the century,” is writing his memoir at his fabled Catskill retreat, Hermitage, with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling. Judge Dimock is consumed with doubts about the troubling secrets he’s kept to himself for over fifty years—secrets that might change both American history and the lives of his entire family. Was his client guilty of spying for Stalin or not? And if guilty, did Hiss’s crimes go far beyond his perjury conviction—a verdict that divided the country for a generation?

​Dimock enlists his grandson, George Altmann, a brilliant Princeton astrophysicist, in the quest for truth. Reluctantly, George finds himself drawn into the web of deceit that has ravaged his family, his curiosity sparked by a string of clues found in the Judge’s unpublished memoir and in nine pencil sketches of accused Soviet agents pinned to an old corkboard in his grandfather’s abandoned office. Even more dismaying, the drawings are by George’s paternal grandfather and namesake, a once-famous painter who covered the Hiss trial as a courtroom artist for the Herald Tribune, only to die in uncertain circumstances in a fall from Woodstock’s Fishkill Bridge on Christmas Eve 1949. Many of the suspected spies also died from ambiguous falls (a KGB specialty) or disappeared behind the Iron Curtain—and were conveniently unable to testify in the Hiss trial.

George begins to realize the immensity of what is at stake: deceptive entanglements that will indeed alter the accepted history of the Cold War—and how he understands his own unhappy Woodstock childhood, growing up in the shadow of a rumored suicide and the infidelities of an alcoholic father, a roadie with The Band.

In Gods of Deception, acclaimed novelist David Adams Cleveland has created a multiverse all its own: a thrilling tale of espionage, a family saga, a stirring love story, and a meditation on time and memory, astrophysics and art, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey into the troubled human heart as well as the past—a past that is ever present, where the gods of deception await our distant call.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626349186
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 05/17/2022
Pages: 928
Sales rank: 661,522
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.40(d)

About the Author

David Adams Cleveland is a novelist and art historian. His previous novel, Time's Betrayal, was awarded Best Historical Novel of 2017 by Reading the Past. Pulitzer prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler called Time's Betrayal “a vast, rich, endlessly absorbing novel engaging with the great and enduring theme of literary art, the quest for identity.” Bruce Olds, two-time Pulitzer-nominated author, described Time’s Betrayal as a “monumental work . . . in a league of its own and class by itself . . . a large-hearted American epic that deserves the widest possible, most discriminating of readerships.” In summer 2014, his second novel, Love’s Attraction, became the top-selling hardback fiction for Barnes & Noble in New England. Fictionalcities.uk included Love’s Attraction on its list of top novels for 2013. His first novel, With a Gemlike Flame, drew wide praise for its evocation of Venice and the hunt for a lost masterpiece by Raphael.
    His pathbreaking art history book, A History of American Tonalism 1880 – 1920, Crucible of American Modernism, has just been published in a third edition with a new sixty-page introduction by Abbeville Press; this bestselling book in American art history won the Silver Medal in Art History in the Book of the Year Awards, 2010, and Outstanding Academic Title 2011, from the American Library Association. David was a regular reviewer for ARTnews and has written for TheMagazineAntiques, the American Art Review, and Dance Magazine. For almost a decade, he was the arts editor at Voice of America. He worked with his son, Carter Cleveland, founder of Artsy.net, to build Artsy into the leading art platform in the world for discovering, buying and selling fine art.
     He and his wife split their time between the Catskills and Siesta Key, Florida. More about David and his publications can be found on his author site: davidadamscleveland.com.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"In the early days of the Cold War, many Americans simply could not believe that a perfect gentleman like Alger Hiss could be a Red spy. David Adams Cleveland uses his gifts as a storyteller to imagine deeper human truths behind the headlines. Gods of Deception is a lushly vivid tale of a haunted time." 
— Evan Thomas, author of The Very Best Men and Being Nixon

Praise for David Adams Cleveland’s previous novel, Time’s Betrayal

“How are our lives unknowingly motivated by our ancestral past? In its scope, artistry, and depiction of the interlinked cause-and-effect patterns spanning more than a century, Cleveland's (Love's Attraction, 2013) third novel raises the bar for multi-generational epics. At its heart is one man's quest to uncover the truth about his late father, John Alden III, who disappeared behind the Iron Curtain in 1953 for reasons unknown. Peter Alden's recollections begin with his own 1960s youth at the Etonesque Massachusetts prep school cofounded by his abolitionist great-grandfather; a place where his father's reputation as a star athlete, archaeologist, and war hero looms large. The expansive yet tightly controlled narrative, in which numerous mysteries are compellingly unearthed, spins out to encompass post-WWII Greece, the race to decipher the ancient Greek script known as Linear B, the Vietnam War, the Berlin Wall's dismantling, and a Civil War battle’s aftermath. The writing is gripping throughout, incorporating both haunting lyricism in its characters' yearning to recapture a lost golden age and a high-stakes tension evoking the best Cold War thrillers. Cleveland is particularly strong in presenting the complicated entanglements of love and betrayal and the barrier between freedom and oppression that each generation contends with. While its length may appear daunting, this unforgettable tour de force is well worth the time.”
Booklist, Starred Review

“This is a literary page-turner with many philosophical themes running throughout. It is a worthwhile read for anyone who loves to lose themselves in a big book and willing to make the investment in time and effort.”
—Janice Ottersberg, Historical Novel Society

“With this monumental work David Cleveland has achieved nothing less than the disinterment of the various skeletons of the American psyche from the Civil War to Vietnam and beyond, and the painting of a multi-generational portrait of a pedigreed American family whose own skeletons not only refuse to stay buried, but actively haunt its progeny. There will be those who, captivated by the author's brilliant insights into the inner workings of the CIA, KGB and MI6, and by a canvas that stretches from New England to Prague and Greece to Southeast Asia, will describe Time's Betrayal as an international spy novel, which it is, if only in the sense that Moby-Dick is a yarn about a big fish and Huckleberry Finn a tale of a boy on a raft. But this is not Ludlum, folks, nor is it LeCarre. It is in a league of its own and a class by itself. Time's Betrayal is a large-hearted American epic that deserves the widest possible, most discriminating of readerships.”
—Bruce Olds, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author for Raising Holy Hell and The Moments Lost

Time's Betrayal is a vast, rich, endlessly absorbing novel engaging with the great and enduring theme of literary art, the quest for an identity. Moreover, it seamlessly expands that quest beyond the individual to the family, to the nation. Time's Betrayal achieves a rare state for massively ambitious novels: it is both complex and compelling. David Adams Cleveland has instantly taken a prominent place on my personal list of must-read authors."
—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

“It is an oddity of history that the early CIA—a world of deceit and betrayal—was dominated by New England prep school grads whose chief cultural values, supposedly, were decency and fair play. In Time's Betrayal, David Cleveland takes us into this world in his sweeping, ambitious novel. With drama and flair, he follows the true, if crooked path, of the human heart. It makes for a compelling and provocative read.”
—Evan Thomas, author of The Very Best Men: The Early Years of the CIA 

“This is the best book I've read all year, and I've read many excellent ones. It’s also the longest novel I’ve read, ever, but, after reading the first 100 pages, I was hooked and eagerly looking forward to the next thousand. I took a week off in mid-August, planning to catch up on work around the house and read maybe 100 pages a day so I’d have it finished by the deadline. Instead, I spent a good part of the week with this book and don't regret it. (It does move quickly.) . . . there’s so much more that could be said. I could also note that there are two strong and multi-faceted female characters, and multiple complicated love affairs, and that the storyline delves deeply into the real-life history of the Cambridge Five spy ring who passed secrets to the Soviets up through the 1950s. I never considered Cold War thrillers to be my type of book, but this novel was. What to compare it to? For the family saga aspect and mysteries related to it, it would appeal to Kate Morton's fans, although it’s more ambitious than even her novels. It should be on the radar of readers of spy thrillers, obviously. It’s also a moving coming-of-age tale. Best of all is seeing how the multiple story lines, characters, and time periods come together. The book arrived with glowing blurbs from Robert Olen Butler and Bruce Olds, the latter of whom had said, among other things, ‘It is in a league of its own and a class by itself,’ which is true. I can't think of another novel quite like it.” 
—Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past

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