You recall those tension filled days in the Crypto Center with accuracy, passion and honesty. Thank you for your service
–J. R Compton, USN (Ret.), former Commanding Officer, USNAS Jax Fla
So reads the front cover of this enigmatic novel. Gaston Delesdandroux has written quite the blockbuster with An American’s Story. Set in the 1950′s and 1960′s it takes us back into the Cold War.Â It was raging in high gear. Although not recognized by the Dewy Decimal library system, I class this novel in the Historical Faction section. My definition of this genre is to set a fictional plot amidst an actual historical event, it is actually a very difficult genre to excel at. You need to weave your tale within the actual events, your characters must be peripherally associated, yet not be complicit in the outcome.
Gaston Delesdandroux does indeed achieve his desired outcome in An American’s Story. I will let the reader into a secret, Gaston Delesdandroux is a nom de guerre, and yes I do use that term carefully.
An American’s Story is told in the first person, Gaston, reveals his experiences as a Cypher expert during the chilly times of the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of JFK, and other world events thatÂ created waves during the politically Siberian period following World War II. America was experiencing a huge boom economically, while Russia continually failed to make their loftyÂ ’5 year plan’ of economic expansion.
Gaston knows little about world events, and cares even less about them, he cares more about his wife Clair, and his world beyond the Navy.
Gaston’s world is turned upside down when he is asked by a co-worker to meet his strange and estranged wife Inga. Inga has the fabled beauty of Cleopatra, but also the deadly venom of the Asp that dispatched the fabled Egyptian queen. Little by little, Gaston is drawn into the game, but it is a larger game than he imagined, his assignations with the alluring woman have not gone unnoticed by the various government agencies tasked with protecting the United States. If there is one genuinely unforgettable aspect to An American’s Story it has to be the authors creative use of language to describe the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc, he refers to them simply as the ‘alphabets’. I just know that I will be using this term again, well assuming Gaston has not copyrighted it!
I liked this book a lot, while I would never class myself as an expert on the Cold War, I am certainly an eager student. Gaston touches on some very sensitive areas, some very factual, and some that have been alluded to for decades, but never actually admitted to. The sign of a fine writer is the ability to blur the lines between fact and fiction, Gaston has created that canvas. The reader is left wondering where fact ends and fiction begins.
I am by no means a ‘conspiracy theorist’, other than the fact that the utility companies have conspired to make me pay their darn bills on the same day of the month! But I do believe that even though 50 years has passed, there is still much more information to be revealed concerning the Cold War.
I have to give Gaston high marks for research, the factual aspects are very much right on the nail. I also liked his ‘first person’ style of writing, the reader is watching through the eyes of the author. There are no quick glimpses from others eyes. The entire story unfolds as Gaston sees it. It is not always rosy, it is not always productive, but, it is always interesting.
Oops, I have written this long review, yet told you little about the plot. There is a reason. It is a simple one. Why would I want to spoil a readers enjoyment by telling all in the review?
My drug of choice is books, I seek out the best of the best. An American’s Story fits my addiction well!
I am hoping to interview Gaston in the next few days, I can hardly wait. Will fact and fiction clash? Only Gaston can answer that. What I enjoyed most about An American.s Story is the way Gaston has flirted with many well rumored facts. If i did not know better I would have claimed that Igor Sergeyevich Gouzenko was the actual author! Much of what Gouzenko said when he first defected was treated with a grain of salt, yet here we are decades later and this cipher clerk was for the most part right.