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Young Skins by Colin Barrett
Young Skins


Winner of the 2014 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award


“A stunning debut . . . The timeless nature of each story means this collection can—and will—be read many years from now.” —Sunday Times

“Exciting and stylistically adventurous.” —Colm Toibín
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
 
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The Story of Tibet By Thomas Laird
“A scrupulously documented account of Cold War intrigue. . . . [Provides] a detailed view into the CIA’s shadowy world and the havoc it wreaks on individual lives. . . . A grippingly good narrative.” —The Village Voice
Into Tibet
The CIA's First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa
By Thomas Laird
Grove Press
978-0-8021-3999-3 • $15.00 • Paperback • Apr. 2003
History (Asia)
Visit Thomas Laird’s Into Tibet website

For over fifty years the Central Intelligence Agency has closely guarded the identity of the first agent killed in the line of duty—the unnamed First Star on the outfit's Wall of Honor. Douglas Mackiernan's unprecedented atomic intelligence operations helped shape both Inner Asia and the CIA as we know them today. His work remains so sensitive that the Agency, even now, will neither confirm nor deny his existence. In a riveting expose of international intrigue, Into Tibet reveals the extraordinary still-classified missions that sent Mackiernan and his partner Frank Bessac into the heart of the Cold War.

Douglas Mackiernan was America's first atomic spy. He ventured into Russian controlled territory to collect intelligence about uranium mining—an unsettling sign that Russia was developing an atomic bomb. Soon after, he helped create a system to detect Russia's first atomic tests. Into Tibet brings to life Mackiernan's adventures as he installed cutting-edge radiation detectors near Russia's atomic test site. With the help of his four brothers, who never knew they were facilitating atomic intelligence, he also ran a long distance radio receiver station in his Massachusetts home to collect this coded data. Simultaneously he began to organize anti-Chinese nomads into proxy U.S fighting forces in Inner Asia. Only after his role as a U.S. spy was blown did he set off for Tibet.

Although the United States had never recognized Tibet's claim to independence, Into Tibet uncovers evidence that in 1950 the CIA and the State Department worked covertly to do just that by arming Tibet weeks before it was invaded by Communist China. When Mackiernan met Frank Bessac in Inner Asia and spoke the code word that identified himself as a fellow CIA agent, the two set off with  trusty White Russian companions on a harrowing two-thousand-mile trek on foot and camel. To this day Bessac denies that he was working deep under cover, as a CIA contract agent. Bessac had a subtle understanding of the complicated politics of Inner Asia--one that the American government, consumed in McCarthy hysteria, tragically did not. Although Mackiernan met a tragic and gruesome end, Bessac went on to meet the Dalai Lama in Lhasa, and encouraged the Tibetans to request covert U.S. aid. Only with the publication of Into Tibet can we ask the questions the CIA has hidden for so long. Did bungling at the highest levels of U.S. government cause the death of America's first atomic agent, and the Chinese invasion of Tibet?

A gripping narrative of survival, courage, and adventure among the nomads, princes, and warring armies of Inner Asia, Into Tibet is a stunning true story, based on previously undisclosed materials discovered after six years of research—including the Dalai Lama's first ever interview about these events.
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