Books: Secrets & Lies: Military Intelligence by Jeremy Harwood

So I was roaming around a Barnes & Noble because I had time to kill before going to a movie, and I found this book in the bargain section. It was published by Metro Books in New York. I picked it up at first because I thought it might be the kind of thing my 10-year-old son would like, and then I kept it because I thought it might have interesting info to help me plan my next Peter Stoller novel.

Now when picking up a remaindered book, one hardly has high expectations. I planned to flip through this and then hand it off to my son. But I've found myself surprisingly engaged.

That's kind of sad. No publisher (at least none that I know of) puts out a book with the idea that they just want it to be a bargain leftover. I mean, there are so many authors out there trying to get published, and publishers are ostensibly selective, choosing only the best. But there are no guarantees. And maybe this book was just too niche. But the fact I'm surprised it's any good—that's what's sad. Because I'm sure the author and publisher put some real effort behind it.

For one thing, it's a nicely made book. (I know because I worked in publishing, and I remember dealing with the manufacturing people.) Good paper stock, lots of photos. This wasn't cheap to produce.

And the author did his job, too. He's written profiles of famous spies and operations, and these articles are far from dry. They're very readable and interesting while also being concise.

But now I'm going to get nitpicky. There are some editorial problems, by which I mean typos and the like, which is just a shame in an otherwise well-written book. And there is one thing about the paper I don't like. They've used a kind of image on the background to make the pages look . . . old, I guess. I'm not entirely sure what effect they were going for. But it just makes the book look beat up and scratched up, and I find it a tad distracting. I like my books to be tidy. I take care of my books, so when they come to me already looking damaged, it puts me off a bit.

These are small things. (Well, the typos and punctuation problems are a pain, but they're not on every page or anything. It's just that I've noticed more than a couple, so I do wonder about this publisher's editors and proofreaders.) They haven't prevented me from reading the book or enjoying it.

A good find.

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