We're pleased to welcome Benjamin Cunningham to our At Home with Literati Series in support of The Liar. They will be joined in conversation by Stephan Delbos.
Click here to join the webinar event on 9/14. No pre-registration required!
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The Cold War meets Mad Men in the form of Karel Koecher, a double agent whose shifting loyalties and over-the-top hedonism reverberated from New York to Moscow
In the mid-1970s, the CIA and KGB watched Karel Koecher closely—they were both convinced he was working for the enemy. And they were both right. Traveling with his wife, Hana, Koecher posed as a Czechoslovak asylum seeker and arrived in the US as a Communist sleeper agent. After parlaying a doctorate from Columbia into a job at the CIA, Koecher proceeded to operate as a double agent at the height of the Cold War.
Shunning a low profile, the Koechers embraced Manhattan’s high life—with cocaine, swinging, and parties emblematic of the times and their penchant for risk. Hana, who was no more than a shy teenager when she arrived, grew into a sophisticated international diamond dealer who relayed messages to Karel’s handlers. Riding a wave of euphoria, the Koechers felt unstoppable. But it was too good to last.
Using newly declassified documents, interrogation tapes, and extraordinary firsthand accounts from the Koechers themselves, Cunningham reconstructs their double lives and the fading Cold War, where a strange moral fog made it hard to know what truth was being fought for, and to what end.
Stephan Delbos, the first Poet Laureate of Plymouth, Massachusetts, is an award-winning poet, translator, playwright, essayist and editor. His most recent poetry collection is Small Talk (Dos Madres, 2021). He has translated widely from Czech, including Tereza Riedlbauchova's Paris Notebook (Verse Chorus Press, 2021), and Vitezslav Nezval's The Absolute Gravedigger (Twisted Spoon Press, 2016), which garnered a PEN/Heim Translation Grant. His scholarly work includes The New American Poetry and Cold War Nationalism (Palgrave, 2021). He is a founding editor of the web journal B O D Y (www.bodyliterature.com).
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