National (In-)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels: 49-50.


Uris, Leon.  Topaz.  New York: McGraw Hill, 1967.

Leon Uris’s great subjects were the experience of combat in the Second World War, the post-war pursuit of war criminals, and the establishment of the Israeli state.  Topaz is set during the same general time period and treats many of the themes that recur throughout Uris’ work, but in its specific subject, it is somewhat atypical of that work.  It concerns the defection of a Soviet spy master to the C.I.A.  The defector reveals an extensive network of Soviet agents who have infiltrated the highest echelons of the French government and the French military-industrial complex.

The novel was an immediate bestseller because of Uris’ general reputation and because it seemed to present a very credible picture of how the intelligence services on both sides of the Iron Curtain were operating.  But the novel created a sensation, especially in France, when certain…

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