Have you always secretly wanted to become a spy? Do you lack necessary skills in doing so—say, knowing five languages, having extensive military experience, being outwardly strategic, possessing street smarts?

No problem—really. Or at least for Winston Bates, the fumbling, self-doubting protagonist in Peter Warner’s The Mole—a fictitious memoir of Bates’s unlikely career as a spy in Washington D.C., during the years following World War II.

Again, if you didn’t find yourself saying “yes” to those qualities, you may be in luck—well, in a you-never-know-what-could-happen sort of way, but still. Just take it from the life of Winston Bates…

21 Unlikely Steps to Becoming a Spy

1. Move to Paris (with naive hopes of a career in poetry).

2. Fail.

3. Make friends with employees at your embassy.

4. Impress their superiors with your smarts.

5. Remain uninterested in politics.

6. Drink.

7. Drink more.

8. Get recruited.

9. Move to Washington, D.C.

10. Attempt to climb various social ladders.

11. Listen well.

12. Appear non-threatening.

13. Lack obvious self-confidence.

14. Dress tastefully.

15. Be slightly oblivious.

16. Remain sort of single.

17. Have a lasting affair with an older, more powerful divorcee.

18. Become indispensible to your boss.

19. Develop his trust.

20. Fool everyone.

21. Oh, and have a photographic memory.



The Mole: The Cold War Memoir of Winston Bates: A Novel by Peter Warner is published by Thomas Dunne books.

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