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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Marco Polo, If You Can

By William F. Buckley, Jr.
Doubleday, 233 pp, 1982

It's been a long time since I've read a Buckley novel, so during my latest trip to the library, it was time to get reacquainted with spy hero Blackford Oakes and company.

I'm happy to report that this novel is just as charming and enjoyable as the other Oakes novels, filled with memorable characters and wonderful skullduggery. Historical figures like President Eisenhower, FBI Director Hoover, and CIA Director Dulles all play prominent roles. Buckley's portrayal of Ike is humorous and effective.

As for the plot, there's yet another Soviet mole in the U.S. government, this time somewhere in the office if the CIA Director. Dulles pulls Rufus out of retirement to mastermind the investigation, and he in turn recruits Oakes, Anthony Trust, and Singer Callaway.

Rufus' master plan requires Oakes to "crash" land a U2 spy plane in Soviet territory, thus making him a prisoner. Naturally, our hero is tortured (repressive Communist countries - has there been any other kind? - do not concern themselves with obeying treaties they have sworn to obey, like the Geneva Convention), put on trial, and sentenced to death. But that's all part of the plan. What is the plan? Who's the mole? And the most important question of all: how many other women does Blackford bed, not counting long-time girlfriend Sally Partridge?

To answer these questions would give away too much, so please, read the book. I think you'll like it.

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