The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia


By Marc Favreau

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A thrilling, critically-acclaimed account of the Cold War spies and spycraft that changed the course of history, perfect for readers of Bomb and The Boys Who Challenged Hitler.

The Cold War spanned five decades as America and the USSR engaged in a battle of ideologies with global ramifications. Over the course of the war, with the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction looming, billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives were devoted to the art and practice of spying, ensuring that the world would never be the same.
Rife with intrigue and filled with fascinating historical figures whose actions shine light on both the past and present, this timely work of narrative nonfiction explores the turbulence of the Cold War through the lens of the men and women who waged it behind closed doors, and helps explain the role secret and clandestine operations have played in America’s history and its national security.


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An American nuclear test at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on July 25, 1946.

US Department of Defense



Elizabeth Bentley, Soviet spy.

World Telegram Photo, C. M. Stieglitz, photographer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection, 1948



On August 6, 1945, an American bomber named Enola Gay soared high over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. At exactly 8:15 AM, its bomb doors opened. Enola Gay’s aircrew released Little Boy, an atomic weapon whose blast equaled just under 13,000 tons of TNT. The bomb detonated moments later, killing more than 70,000 Japanese people in the explosion and the resulting firestorms, which obliterated an area nearly five miles wide.

News of the atomic bomb quickly reached Joseph Stalin, the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union, at his headquarters in the Kremlin, in Moscow’s Red Square. The world’s first nuclear attack stunned the Soviet leader, but not out of pity for the Japanese victims. Rather, the shrewd and ruthless dictator immediately grasped the implications of such a powerful weapon.

“Hiroshima has shaken the whole world,” Stalin remarked. “The balance has been destroyed.”

The United States and the Soviet Union were, officially, allies in August 1945. But their contributions to the war effort were unequal, with Russia paying the heaviest price for Hitler’s aggression. In four years of fighting, nearly eight million Soviet soldiers and twenty million civilians died. Much of Russia lay in ruins that summer. More than anything else, Stalin vowed that no invader would ever threaten the motherland again. History had taught him harsh lessons about the countries that lay on Russia’s western borders, and he would not make the same mistake twice.

And now America had surprised the world with a weapon that could devastate entire cities in a matter of seconds. It was a deliberate attempt to intimidate him, Stalin believed. Before the rubble of the last war had even been cleared, Stalin feared that a new and ominous threat to Soviet security lay at Russia’s doorstep.

“They want to force us to accept their plans on questions affecting Europe and the world,” Stalin declared to his advisers. “Well, that’s not going to happen.”

It turned out that the Soviet leader had secret weapons of his own. For well over a decade, his spies had been infiltrating the United States, burrowing their way into private companies, schools, laboratories, and even government offices. Information flowed through intricate networks of sympathizers, collaborators, and unwitting helpers—all of it gathered by agents of the Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs), or NKVD, and transmitted to Moscow in the form of secret, coded communiqués.

Stalin kept watch over friends and enemies alike, listening in on their communications and stealing their closely guarded secrets. The Americans had outmaneuvered him this time, but on that August day in 1945, the Soviet leader began preparing for the next confrontation.

And then, barely a week later, a single rogue agent pulled a thread that threatened to unravel Stalin’s carefully woven net.

On August 14, 1945, the very same day that World War II ended, an American citizen and Soviet spy named Elizabeth Bentley cautiously approached the front door of the FBI offices in New Haven, Connecticut. Wild celebrations were breaking out across the country, as Americans everywhere cheered the Allied victory. But for Elizabeth Bentley, the end of the war was the beginning of a terrifying, unknown stage in her life. Her knees were shaking. More than once, she considered turning around. Other defectors—spies who had switched sides—met grisly fates at the hands of NKVD assassins.

If the Russian secret police knew what I was about to do…, she thought, checking the hallway to see if she had been followed.

At last, she opened the door and crossed the threshold—into the hands of the nation’s top law-enforcement agency.

“I’d like to see the agent in charge,” she said to the receptionist.

Bentley had chosen New Haven over the much larger FBI office near her home in New York City, betting that she could avoid being followed by Russian agents. As an extra measure of precaution, she took the elevator to an office three floors above, then walked down the staircase to the FBI.

She had good reason to be worried. Anatoly Gorsky, the Washington station chief of the NKVD, had recently written to his supervisors in Moscow that, “judging by her behavior, she hasn’t betrayed us yet, but we can’t rely on her. Unfortunately, she knows too much about us.”

Gorsky concluded that, for Bentley, “only one remedy is left—the most drastic one—to get rid of her.”

Over the course of a two-hour interview, the startled FBI agent could not decide what to make of this strange woman. She let out her story in dribs and drabs. Her motivations were unclear. It took several meetings for her to get up the courage to reveal her whole story—but when she was ready, Elizabeth Bentley unfurled an almost unbelievable account of a massive Soviet espionage ring operating inside the United States. She had no evidence to back up her claims—until one day, she surprised the federal agents by producing an envelope filled with $2,000 in twenty-dollar bills, which Gorsky had handed her only a few weeks earlier.

“Here’s some Moscow gold,” she announced to her startled interrogators.

Bentley’s journey to the FBI offices had begun almost ten years earlier.

For someone who would eventually become so completely tangled in a web of espionage intrigue, Bentley entered her adult years alone, a solitary figure looking for companionship and community. She had been born in Massachusetts and was educated at some of America’s best schools—a highly intelligent woman who always impressed her teachers with her maturity and cleverness (the Soviets, in fact, nicknamed her umnitsa, Russian for “clever girl” or “Miss Wise”).

Throughout her life, however, Bentley was unstable, suffering from alcoholism and possibly psychological disorders. Like millions of Americans caught in the Great Depression, she found herself adrift in the early 1930s, working odd jobs and searching for a sense of purpose. She ultimately found what she was looking for—and more still—in the Communist Party of the United States of America, the CPUSA.

Bentley joined at a unique moment in the CPUSA’s history, as the Party’s popularity soared during the Depression. For the next five years, the CPUSA grew quickly, attracting thousands of new recruits to its promise of building a new kind of society. To these people, capitalism had failed, and ordinary Americans were bearing the brunt of its collapse. In their eyes, the Soviet Union seemed to be a new, more equitable model, a beacon for a more hopeful future. “A new world was coming—and I wanted to be part of it,” Elizabeth said in her memoirs.

In 1938, Elizabeth met a man named Timmy, a strongly built Russian immigrant with red hair, blue eyes, and a nearly lifelong commitment to communism. At eight years old, Timmy had distributed illegal communist leaflets in tsarist Russia; as a teen, he survived being executed by firing squad by playing dead on the ground for two days. Later, in the 1920s, he escaped a prison camp in Siberia and made his way to the United States.

Elizabeth fell in love with this mysterious blue-eyed Russian man. But she would quickly learn that there was even more to Timmy than a lifetime of exploits on behalf of the Soviet Union. For “Timmy” was Jacob Golos, an agent of Stalin’s NKVD and “among the cleverest, most mysterious, and most powerful” spies ever to set foot on American soil, according to one historian.

Against his better judgment, Golos found himself returning his apprentice’s affections. It was dangerous for a spy handler of his stature to get involved romantically with one of his spies. But Golos (and his superiors in Moscow) also recognized her special value to the Soviet Union. Here was a woman with impeccable Yankee credentials, who had been educated at elite colleges and had few living family members or other attachments. She was the perfect secret agent, in other words. At Golos’s urging, Bentley embarked on a new odyssey, away from the CPUSA and into the Soviet underground secretly operating in the United States.

Elizabeth had much to learn from her new mentor. Golos spent months instructing her in the basic elements of spycraft: She learned how to notice when she was being followed by the police, how to elude capture, how to make secret phone calls, and how to handle clandestine correspondence.

“Underground methods were by now beginning to seem quite natural to me,” she recalled. “I no longer thought it odd that I had to communicate with Timmy through a third party, that I must always use a pay phone when calling him, that if he could not come to my apartment we should always meet on out-of-the-way street corners. Whenever I had an appointment to see him, I was almost automatically on the alert to determine whether or not anyone was following me.” Bentley also learned techniques for determining whether the FBI or police had gone through her belongings: “If I had to leave the apartment, I was careful to put [my belongings] in my black trunk and tie a thin black thread around it so that I would know if they had been tampered with in my absence.”

As Bentley mastered the techniques of spying, her assignments for the Soviets grew. She spent the next two years as a courier, go-between, and manager of World Tourists, Inc., a travel business run by Golos that was actually a front operation for the Soviet Union. Together, they issued false passports and provided money and guidance to a growing network of Soviet informers and spies. As Golos’s lover and his main espionage protégée, Elizabeth Bentley quickly became indispensable to Stalin’s underground operation in the United States.

Communism’s heyday in America lasted only a few years. In 1939, when the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact with Adolf Hitler, thousands of American party members resigned in disgust. But true believers like Elizabeth held on, ready to fight for the communist cause as the war clouds gathered.

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, its law-enforcement agencies began keeping an eye on all foreign agents operating inside America’s borders, and the FBI soon caught Golos in one of its dragnets. He was tried, fined $500, and released. But he was exposed now and could no longer carry on his activities as a spymaster. So Golos and the NKVD turned to the person closest to him to take over his duties.

For the remainder of the war years, Elizabeth Bentley served as a spy handler and cashier for Soviet espionage operations in the United States—meeting with contacts in the government, creating fake passports for Russian agents, paying informants with Soviet money, and passing on information to the NKVD. Twice a month, Bentley took the train from New York to Washington to meet with Nathan and Helen Silvermaster, committed Communists who gathered secret US government documents from a large group of well-placed officials in Washington. Occasionally, Elizabeth would rendezvous with a Soviet agent in Washington by standing in front of a drugstore in Georgetown, wearing a red flower in her hat and holding a copy of Life magazine.

Elizabeth returned home on the train twice each month, her knitting bag stuffed with military documents, microfilm, and other secrets that she would pass along to Moscow.

Elizabeth’s Soviet case officer was a Russian man code-named JOHN. After her trips to Washington, they would meet secretly at newsreel theaters in Manhattan. “According to the plan,” she said, “I was to enter the theater precisely on the hour, carrying a small attaché case containing any information to pass on, and sit down on the extreme right near the back. Ten minutes later he was to take the seat next to me, without any sign of recognition, and place an identical case on the floor next to mine. After a sufficient interval of time had elapsed, I was to pick up his briefcase and leave the theater.”

Bentley was in deep, a Soviet agent operating quietly in the heart of the world’s most powerful country. She knew that she was walking a tightrope, supporting a cause she believed in and a man she loved, all the while spying on the country she called home. Could this be treason? she wondered.

On a snowy Thanksgiving Day in 1943, after a large meal together at a local Manhattan restaurant, Bentley and Golos returned to her apartment, where he fell asleep on the couch—and never woke up. Jacob Golos was dead, of a heart attack.

Elizabeth’s well-honed espionage skills kicked in immediately: She managed to conceal Jacob’s true identity from the policemen who investigated his death, and she gathered and burned all his many papers in her apartment’s fireplace. But she could not contain her desperation, her sense of being adrift once again. She drank heavily. She quarreled with her new NKVD contacts at meetings and second-guessed their decisions.

The Soviets quickly caught on to the emotional distress and instability of their prized secret agent. With so much at stake, they had to step in.

Bit by bit, the NKVD began to take control over the different tentacles of Elizabeth’s network, insisting that she hand over names and cease her usual espionage activities. When she objected, they flattered her—even going so far as to award her the Order of the Red Star in recognition of her service to the motherland.

Bentley began to question her loyalty to an organization and cause that no longer seemed to trust her. A trained spy, she watched her back at all times, sensing that she was being followed. Her suspicions gradually morphed into fear.

When the war ended, that fear turned to dread—and propelled Elizabeth Bentley into the hands of the FBI.

Elizabeth Bentley was the most well-connected Soviet spy ever to defect to the United States authorities. The information she handed over to the FBI included dozens of names of other Americans spying for the USSR, including people that the agency had been tracking for years. FBI agents dusted off old case files. Suddenly, old clues, in a new light, made sense.

“There wasn’t any question in my mind that we hit gold on this one,” one FBI agent commented.

Text of cable sent from the FBI’s New York office to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover assigned seventy-two FBI agents to investigate the suspects Elizabeth had identified. Agents fanned out across the country, tailing unsuspecting government officials, listening in on private phone calls, opening mail, and photographing the men and women named in Elizabeth’s confession. Three months after her jittery first approach to the FBI office in New Haven, Bentley had launched the biggest single case in the Bureau’s history.

Hoover’s FBI men stealthily scoured the nation for Soviet spies; the FBI director was not eager to risk tipping off his suspects by exposing Bentley as a defector. But he was not alone in his belief that the Soviets were engaged in foul play inside the United States. As the relationship between America and the Soviet Union soured overseas, more and more Americans tended to agree with him.

In February, a senior diplomat in the US embassy in Moscow named George Kennan sent a sobering message about the Soviet Union to his superiors in Washington. In what became known as the “Long Telegram,” Kennan argued that Soviet leadership had no choice but to paint the United States as their sworn nemesis, because it needed an external enemy to justify the Communist Party’s rigid control over its society. The USSR could not be trusted or negotiated with. Likening communism to a disease, Kennan contended that it would respond only to force, or what he called “containment.” The Long Telegram was copied, talked about, and passed all over Washington. Its conclusions soon leaked out to the general public.

Barely two weeks later, on March 5, the former British prime minister Winston Churchill delivered a speech in Fulton, Missouri—with President Truman seated in the audience—that conjured an image of an “iron curtain” separating the communist and noncommunist countries. Like Truman, Churchill feared that the Soviets were establishing a zone of total control over Central Europe. “Behind that line,” he intoned, “lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe… all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in many cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

Stalin called Churchill’s speech “an appeal to war with the USSR.”

By the summer of 1946, Americans everywhere started seeing signs of communist traitors in their midst. Newspapers took an increasingly dark view of the USSR’s motives. The Republican Party, eager to score points against President Truman, a Democrat, accused him of being “soft on communism” and willing to turn a blind eye to subversives in his own administration.

Truman tried to mollify his critics by instituting a new loyalty program for the federal government. All two million federal employees would be screened individually for “membership in, affiliation with or sympathetic association with any foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, group or combination of persons designated by the Attorney General as totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive.” Attorney General Tom C. Clark developed a list of these organizations, which included everything from African American civil rights groups to labor unions and virtually anyone associated with communism or the Soviet Union.

Clark’s list took on a life of its own. Schools, local governments, and private companies used it to fire, expel, or exclude anyone considered disloyal to the United States. An accusation was enough to ruin a person’s reputation; in the shadow of a looming Soviet menace, many Americans jettisoned the most basic standards of due process, fairness, or the presumption of innocence.

Truman’s program quickly snowballed into a general hunt for internal enemies, a “red scare” that gradually infected the imaginations of millions of American citizens.

Later that year, in the fall of 1947, a previously obscure committee of the US House of Representatives took the hunt to a new level. The House Un-American Activities Committee (or HUAC) announced that it would begin investigating the influence of the Communist Party on Hollywood and the movie business. The committee sent subpoenas to dozens of well-known actors, directors, screenwriters, and other professionals suspected of being affiliated with communism.

HUAC pressed each one of them with what became known as the “sixty-four-thousand-dollar question”: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”

Some of the accused named names, fingering friends and colleagues in the entertainment industry. Others denied having any ties to the Soviets. But a small group known as the Hollywood Ten refused to answer questions, citing the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which grants citizens the freedom of speech and association. In the fall of 1947, that was a losing argument. The ten directors and screenwriters were thrown in prison for contempt of Congress. Americans sent them hate mail. Following their release, they were “blacklisted,” prevented from working in Hollywood ever again.

HUAC’s hearings riveted the nation—and ratcheted up J. Edgar Hoover’s frustration with the FBI’s increasingly fruitless investigation into Elizabeth Bentley’s allegations. Bentley’s confessions convinced him that the United States had been infiltrated by Soviet spies. But wherever Hoover’s vaunted G-men (for “government men”) looked, the trail went cold. Doors were locked; promising leads ended up as dead ends. It was almost as if the Soviets had been tipped off to the fact that the FBI was on to them.

But that was impossible, Hoover thought. Other than a few FBI officials, Hoover had only shared this intelligence with America’s closest ally, Great Britain.

No one in the US government was better informed about Soviet activities in the United States than J. Edgar Hoover. But not even Hoover had any inkling about the mole—or secret Soviet agent—hiding in the top ranks of Great Britain’s spy agency, MI6.

In 1945, the head of Soviet counterintelligence for MI6 was Kim Philby, a respected agent who many believed would someday rise to be Britain’s spy chief. Philby had a dark secret. In the 1930s, the Soviets secretly recruited him and a group of fellow students at Cambridge University. The “Cambridge Spy Ring”—which included Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross—made sure that almost nothing that England or its allies did would be kept secret from the USSR. Inside the NKVD, the group was referred to as “the Magnificent Five.”

Thanks to Philby, word of Bentley’s defection ricocheted back to the highest levels of the Soviet government, which ordered its agents in the United States to “cease immediately their connection with all persons known to Bentley in our work [and] to warn the agents about Bentley’s betrayal.”

“Because of the successful delivery of that message,” wrote one historian, “the FBI’s massive undercover effort over the next eighteen months would be in vain. Thanks to Philby, Elizabeth would become the least successful double agent in FBI history.”

By the summer of 1948, J. Edgar Hoover was ready to try a new tactic against his Soviet adversary. If he couldn’t track down Russian spies and bring them to trial, perhaps he could flush them out into the open.

Against the law, Hoover began passing classified files to his contacts on HUAC, with documents describing Bentley’s alleged spy ring. The opportunity to go public with a genuine communist conspiracy was too good for the Republican congressmen of HUAC to pass up. In July of that year, the committee announced a new round of investigations, but this time into something far more serious than the communist infiltration of Hollywood.

HUAC was going to investigate the Soviet spy networks operating inside the US government itself. On August 1, 1948, the woman now dubbed the “Red Spy Queen” was their first witness.

For two days, in a congressional hearing room packed with spectators and news reporters, as flashbulbs went off and news cameras whirred, Elizabeth Bentley revealed the sensational details of her spying for the Soviet Union. Bentley told all: She named names, exposed her Russian contacts, and painted a shocking picture of a vast communist conspiracy operating in the United States.

MR. RANKIN: But he was in the employ of the federal government?

MISS BENTLEY: That is correct; yes.

MR. RANKIN: He was a member of the Communist Party, you say?

MISS BENTLEY: That is correct.

MR. RANKIN: And an agent of the Communist International?

MISS BENTLEY: Probably an agent of the NKVD would be more correct.

MR. RANKIN: That is the Russian Communist secret police?

MISS BENTLEY: That is correct.

MR. RANKIN: And the Communists are dedicated to the overthrow of this government; is that right?

MISS BENTLEY: That is right.

An excerpt of Elizabeth Bentley’s testimony before HUAC, in which she answers questions about Nathan Silvermaster, her main contact in Washington, DC, from Congressman John E. Rankin of Mississippi.

On July 2, headlines all over the United States announced the exploits of the “lady spy,” “Comrade Woman,” “nutmeg Mata Hari,” and the “blonde and blue-eyed” (Bentley was neither) defector. That Bentley was native born, from an old Massachusetts family, and educated at one of America’s top colleges made her seem more threatening; anybody, it seemed, could succumb to the lure of the communist menace.

The very next day, another defector appeared before HUAC, whose shocking testimony added heft to the Red Spy Queen’s claims. Like Bentley, Whittaker Chambers—a prominent journalist for Time magazine—spent years as an underground Soviet agent in the 1930s, cultivating informers and passing secret documents to his contacts in the GRU, the USSR’s military intelligence service. But unlike Bentley, Chambers had been disgusted by Stalin’s willingness to make a pact with Hitler in 1939. He escaped from his Soviet handlers, always fearful that he might end up dead by an assassin’s bullet. In the 1940s, he rejected communism and rediscovered his religious beliefs.

Chambers made a stunning accusation that day: He charged a man named Alger Hiss, one of Washington’s most respected government officials, with spying for the Soviet Union. And Chambers admitted that he himself had been Hiss’s “handler” for the NKVD.


  • Praise for Spies:
    A New York Times Best Children's Book of 2019

    "Heart-stopping...At a time when we're entangled in a new escalation of cyber espionage with Russia, Spies provides a concise history of these national antagonisms for young readers, reminding them of the lengths people went to in the past to protect secrets--and to betray them."—New York Times Book Review

  • * "Favreau weaves vivid, succinct accounts of the volatile U.S.-Soviet relationship into his tension-inducing spy stories... Black-and-white photos and excellent supplemental material...enhance the reader's understanding of this riveting, timely topic."

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • * "...skillfully captures the tension of the era."—Booklist, starred review

  • "This page-turning exposé reads like a briefcase of highly classified files detailing mysterious tip-offs and clandestine meetings, heart-pounding captures and desperate escapes....Favreau's thrilling approach to covert history will be a welcome classroom supplement for teachers of history, geography, government, and even forensic science."—School Library Connection

  • "The spies' personal depths of dedication to creating false identities and the stress of shouldering secrets-or selling them-will inspire even reluctant historians to dig deeper and deeper. Ian Fleming couldn't have dreamt up anything better."Kirkus Reviews

  • "Favreau takes readers on a deep dive into the Cold War, the politics that drove it, and the stories of the men and women who covertly fought in it...history buffs will be intrigued to see how tenuous the stability of a nation truly is, with its fate often decided by a few intercepted or missed messages....sure to thrill fans of The Americans or James Bond."—BCCB

  • "An engaging work of narrative nonfiction that young history buffs and future CIA agents are sure to eat up."—SLJ

  • "Marc Favreau's Spies is narrative nonfiction at its finest: insightful, impeccably researched, and, most of all, impossible to put down."

    Deborah Hopkinson, Sibert Honor author of Titanic: Voices from the Disaster

  • "Marc Favreau's endlessly engaging book brings this dangerous struggle alive and will take his readers on a rollicking ride through the thrills, fears, and cliff-hanger contests of those tumultuous years."—John McLaughlin, former acting director and deputy director of the CIA

  • "It's hard to think of a book about espionage that is as entertaining, accurate, and accessible as Spies. I've covered the CIA for many years, and found something new in every chapter."—Greg Miller, National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy

  • "Spies is enjoyable, educational and hard to put down. It reads like the best spy fiction but has the benefit of all being true. For someone who lived in the shadows battling the Soviets and Russians, his portrayal captures the reality of that charged and dangerous time."—John Sipher, former head of Russia operations and member of Senior Intelligence Service, CIA

  • "The secret world of spy vs. spy comes alive in Favreau's thrilling and suspenseful account of the Cold War. It's an amazing story...and it's true!"—Allen Zadoff, award-winning author of the Unknown Assassin series

  • Praise for Crash:
    A New York Public Library Best Book of 2018
    A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2018
    A 2018 Booklist Editors' Choice title
    A 2019 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
    An ALA Notable Children's Book of 2019
    A Bank Street College Best Children's Book

    "Crash does a great job of mixing personal stories with big-picture history, delivering a compelling narrative about the Great Depression--and about how Americans' reaction to it changed our country forever."—Steve Sheinkin, National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honor author of Bomb and Most Dangerous

  • * "Much like Steve Sheinkin did in Bomb, Favreau writes in a clear and relatable way...this story is far from a slow-moving history book. For readers who think of themselves as history buffs as well as those who just love a thought-provoking story, Crash will deliver on all levels."—VOYA (starred review)

  • * "Favreau gives readers incisive, penetrating, at times heartbreaking prose. A dynamic read deserving of a wide audience."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • * "An enlightening and very readable book on a complex historical period."—Booklist (starred review)

  • "Crash is smart, thorough, visually engaging--and incredibly relevant. It may be aimed at ages "10 and up" but I was riveted--I think people of any age who are interested in understanding American history, especially in order to understand where we are today, will be too. It's a clear, concise narrative that makes a complicated history accessible without dumbing down or glossing over the nuances of race, class, and gender."—Kate Schatz, NYT bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z, Rad Women Worldwide, and Rad Girls Can

  • "In a forceful, fast-paced, and well-informed narrative, Marc Favreau lets readers experience--no, live!--the worst economic collapse in US history, introducing us to the individuals who suffered through and labored to overcome the financial and social upheaval that was the Great Depression and the remarkable visionaries who rallied a nation against fear, hatred, and divisiveness until a new and stronger America finally emerged. An impressive and important work."
    Jim Murphy, two-time Newbery Honor- and Robert F. Sibert Award-winning author of An American Plague

  • "A tale of heroes, villains, and redemption, Crash is the story we should all be reading--about a time when Americans were knocked down, dusted themselves off, and rebuilt a world that was safer and more secure."—Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

  • "Crash is a fantastic resource for young readers to understand the decade that defined America. Through portraits of American resilience--from families in the Dustbowl struggling to survive, to President Roosevelt fighting to restore hope and prosperity to an ailing nation--Marc Favreau tells the story of how our country overcame enormous adversity. This is a compelling portrait of our past that reminds us how we became the nation we are today."—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-CT Third District and author of The Least Among Us: Waging the Battle for the Vulnerable

  • "Crash is a terrific book, chock full of personal touches, details, and photographs that bring the people who lived through the Great Depression to life."—George O'Connor, New York Times bestselling author of the Olympians graphic novel series

  • "Marc Favreau's style keeps a mammoth story moving, hitting the major moments of historical importance while taking care to put lesser-known stories into the narrative."—Tanya Lee Stone, Robert F. Sibert Award-winning author of Courage Has No Color and Girl Rising

  • "If you want to understand your grandparents' world into which they were born, thus affecting the world into which you were born, READ THIS!"—Bill Moyers, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning broadcast journalist and bestselling author

  • "Favreau brings an important period of history to life."—Publishers Weekly

  • "Engaging and comprehensive...Favreau carefully crafts an enjoyable narrative that vibrantly depicts individual experiences, including little-known stories within the context of national trends."—School Library Journal

  • "Enhanced by photographs, personal interviews, and primary source documents, the story of one of the most unstable periods in American history conveys the highs and lows of everyday life during those difficult years. The message of the strength and resilience of the American people during this terrible time, and how it helped to shape the country we live in today, is well documented by the author in a reader-friendly style."—School Library Connection

  • "Favreau [makes] the complex story accessible to middle-school readers...an appealing way to present an introduction to the period."—BCCB

On Sale
Oct 1, 2019
Page Count
320 pages

Marc Favreau

About the Author

Marc Favreau is the acclaimed author of Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America and Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia, co-author (with Michael Eric Dyson) of Unequal: A Story of America,and co-editor (with Ira Berlin and Steven F. Miller) of Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation. Favreau is also the director of editorial programs at The New Press. He lives with his family in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

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