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Work and Its Rewards


Hello loyal readers. This just in from the folks at Substack HQ:

You’re a Substack Bestseller

Well I’ll be!

“SpyTalk by Jeff Stein,” the email said, “is a Substack Bestseller with hundreds of paid subscribers.”

Of course, I get that this is a marketing trick. No better way to blow their own horn than to blow mine. And “hundreds” seems like a pretty low bar, considering so many truly big hitters here, like my friend Bill Bishop, the awesome proprietor of the all-things-China newsletter Sinocism, who recruited me here, and many, many others even better known whose circulation dwarfs ours. Still…

But there’s a crucial correction to be made, too: SpyTalk is not just “by Jeff Stein.” No, it could not have succeeded to the extent it has without the steady, important contributions of our contributors, folks like (in alphabetical order):

*Jonathan Broder, a former CQ foreign news editor, Newsweek writer and foreign correspondent for the A.P. and Chicago Tribune in the Middle East

*Matthew Brazil, a former US government officer in Beijing and co-author of the authoritative, Chinese Communist Intelligence.

*John Dinges, a former NPR News managing editor, Godfrey Lowell Cabot Professor of Journalism Emeritus at Columbia University, and author of The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terror to Three Continents.

*Peter Eisner, the much praised investigative author and former senior editor at New York Newsday and The Washington Post. 

*James Grady, prolific author of spy and crime dramas, starting with the iconic Six Days of the Condor (shortened by three days for the hit 1975 movie, still a perennial favorite).

*Maria Hartwig, professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Director & Co-Founder, Project Aletheia. She is an internationally recognized expert on deception, counter-deception, and interviewing and interrogation strategy.

*Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst on East Asia who now directs the security and intelligence studies program at King University in Bristol, Tennessee.

*Filip Kovacevic, a leading expert on the history of Russian intelligence at the University of San Francisco.

*Olga Lautman, analyst and researcher focused on Kremlin, organized crime, intelligence and Eastern Europe, and senior fellow at The Center for European Policy Analysis. Co-Host of Kremlin File podcast.

*Elaine Monaghan, former Reuters correspondent in London, Moscow, Kyiv, Minsk, Kosovo and Ireland, and Washington columnist for The Times. Co-author of On The Brink, the memoir of CIA officer Tyler Drumheller.

*Jefferson Morley, a former Washingtin Post editor and reporter and the author, most recently, of Scorpion’s Dance: The President, the Spymaster, and Watergate.

*Patricia Ravalgi, former staffer at the House Intelligence Committee, the FBI and the U.S. Central Command.

*Gus Russo, a nine-time author (including two books on the Kennedy assassination), documentarian, and musician. His latest book is his first fiction, Gaia.

*Elaine Shannon, the veteran national security correspondent for Time and Newsweek. Latest book: Hunting LeRoux (HarperCollins/Michael Mann Books)

and finally….

*C. Tatum, the pen name of a writer who observed efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghans from Kabul.

It took a village (sorry!) to take SpyTalk from zero on our launch date, Aug. 31, 2000, to where we are today. We certainly couldn’t have done it without the support of paying subscribers, who, like donors to their local NPR station, could read for free but think we’re doing something worth supporting with their wallets.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, all. Help keep us going.

Allbest, Jeff

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