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Gods of Deception

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At age ninety-five, Judge Edward Dimock, patriarch of his family and the man who defended accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the famous 1950 Cold War “trial of the century,” is writing his memoir at his fabled Catskill retreat, Hermitage, with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling. Judge Dimock is consumed with doubts about the troubling secrets he’s kept to himself for o At age ninety-five, Judge Edward Dimock, patriarch of his family and the man who defended accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the famous 1950 Cold War “trial of the century,” is writing his memoir at his fabled Catskill retreat, Hermitage, with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling. Judge Dimock is consumed with doubts about the troubling secrets he’s kept to himself for over fifty years—secrets that might change both American history and the lives of his entire family. Was his client guilty of spying for Stalin or not? And if guilty, did Hiss’s crimes go far beyond his perjury conviction—a verdict that divided the country for a generation? ​Dimock enlists his grandson, George Altmann, a brilliant Princeton astrophysicist, in the quest for truth. Reluctantly, George finds himself drawn into the web of deceit that has ravaged his family, his curiosity sparked by a string of clues found in the Judge’s unpublished memoir and in nine pencil sketches of accused Soviet agents pinned to an old corkboard in his grandfather’s abandoned office. Even more dismaying, the drawings are by George’s paternal grandfather and namesake, a once-famous painter who covered the Hiss trial as a courtroom artist for the Herald Tribune, only to die in uncertain circumstances in a fall from Woodstock’s Fishkill Bridge on Christmas Eve 1949. Many of the suspected spies also died from ambiguous falls (a KGB specialty) or disappeared behind the Iron Curtain—and were conveniently unable to testify in the Hiss trial. George begins to realize the immensity of what is at stake: deceptive entanglements that will indeed alter the accepted history of the Cold War—and how he understands his own unhappy Woodstock childhood, growing up in the shadow of a rumored suicide and the infidelities of an alcoholic father, a roadie with The Band. In Gods of Deception, acclaimed novelist David Adams Cleveland has created a multiverse all its own: a thrilling tale of espionage, a family saga, a stirring love story, and a meditation on time and memory, astrophysics and art, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey into the troubled human heart as well as the past—a past that is ever present, where the gods of deception await our distant call.


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At age ninety-five, Judge Edward Dimock, patriarch of his family and the man who defended accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the famous 1950 Cold War “trial of the century,” is writing his memoir at his fabled Catskill retreat, Hermitage, with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling. Judge Dimock is consumed with doubts about the troubling secrets he’s kept to himself for o At age ninety-five, Judge Edward Dimock, patriarch of his family and the man who defended accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss in the famous 1950 Cold War “trial of the century,” is writing his memoir at his fabled Catskill retreat, Hermitage, with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling. Judge Dimock is consumed with doubts about the troubling secrets he’s kept to himself for over fifty years—secrets that might change both American history and the lives of his entire family. Was his client guilty of spying for Stalin or not? And if guilty, did Hiss’s crimes go far beyond his perjury conviction—a verdict that divided the country for a generation? ​Dimock enlists his grandson, George Altmann, a brilliant Princeton astrophysicist, in the quest for truth. Reluctantly, George finds himself drawn into the web of deceit that has ravaged his family, his curiosity sparked by a string of clues found in the Judge’s unpublished memoir and in nine pencil sketches of accused Soviet agents pinned to an old corkboard in his grandfather’s abandoned office. Even more dismaying, the drawings are by George’s paternal grandfather and namesake, a once-famous painter who covered the Hiss trial as a courtroom artist for the Herald Tribune, only to die in uncertain circumstances in a fall from Woodstock’s Fishkill Bridge on Christmas Eve 1949. Many of the suspected spies also died from ambiguous falls (a KGB specialty) or disappeared behind the Iron Curtain—and were conveniently unable to testify in the Hiss trial. George begins to realize the immensity of what is at stake: deceptive entanglements that will indeed alter the accepted history of the Cold War—and how he understands his own unhappy Woodstock childhood, growing up in the shadow of a rumored suicide and the infidelities of an alcoholic father, a roadie with The Band. In Gods of Deception, acclaimed novelist David Adams Cleveland has created a multiverse all its own: a thrilling tale of espionage, a family saga, a stirring love story, and a meditation on time and memory, astrophysics and art, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey into the troubled human heart as well as the past—a past that is ever present, where the gods of deception await our distant call.

42 review for Gods of Deception

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Rotter

    Let's get the elephant in the room out of this way. This is a long book! Which is why it took me a long time to even start. It has all the ingredients that make reading a treat for me but the times have changed my reading habits and I have DNFed as many books as I've completed. But a return to work and a second look at the reviews made it irresistible. I decided to read it as if it were a serialized Dickensian tome and was so glad I did. Others have outlined the plot. I want to suggest that, dep Let's get the elephant in the room out of this way. This is a long book! Which is why it took me a long time to even start. It has all the ingredients that make reading a treat for me but the times have changed my reading habits and I have DNFed as many books as I've completed. But a return to work and a second look at the reviews made it irresistible. I decided to read it as if it were a serialized Dickensian tome and was so glad I did. Others have outlined the plot. I want to suggest that, depending on your familiarity with the time and setting, the historical and political issues, a look at Wikipedia would be valuable - see Cambridge Five.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Cleveland has written a wide ranging tale in his usual style. It's a good story. At times there's tension, at times the author is a bit verbose. But the writing is always excellent. This is probably best for serious readers. I really appreciate the free ARC for review!! Cleveland has written a wide ranging tale in his usual style. It's a good story. At times there's tension, at times the author is a bit verbose. But the writing is always excellent. This is probably best for serious readers. I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gina T

    Thanks to Greenleaf for providing this novel through a Goodreads Giveaway. This is a DNF at page 231. The novel is a wordy, slow-moving story about spies and a troubled, mostly unlikeable family. I don't care enough about the characters or story to finish it. The author is a good writer and I would read his shorter works. Thanks to Greenleaf for providing this novel through a Goodreads Giveaway. This is a DNF at page 231. The novel is a wordy, slow-moving story about spies and a troubled, mostly unlikeable family. I don't care enough about the characters or story to finish it. The author is a good writer and I would read his shorter works.

  4. 5 out of 5

    R J Mckay

    I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review. When George Altmann is recruited to assist his grandfather, Judge Edward Dimock, to review his memoirs, one thing is certain: there is more to his grandfather’s defense of Alger Hiss than was ever let on. Decades ago, Dimock was a last-minute selection to work on the Hiss defense. But just what did Dimock know about the circumstances surrounding Hiss’s spying for Russia? What did he cover-up? As George reads his grandfather’s I received a copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review. When George Altmann is recruited to assist his grandfather, Judge Edward Dimock, to review his memoirs, one thing is certain: there is more to his grandfather’s defense of Alger Hiss than was ever let on. Decades ago, Dimock was a last-minute selection to work on the Hiss defense. But just what did Dimock know about the circumstances surrounding Hiss’s spying for Russia? What did he cover-up? As George reads his grandfather’s accounts of that fateful time, clues pop up that he simply can’t ignore. He finds himself compelled to get to the truth of the events that left men dead, a family in ruin, and maybe one of America’s most notorious spy’s off with only a slap on the wrist as punishment. I will admit to being overwhelmed when I first picked up this book (and why not, it’s over 900 pages). But when I started to read it, the prose captured me. Cleveland is like an artist, but instead of using paint and a brush he uses words to create a picture. He was able to bring forth a story so believable and detailed, that it felt real. He paced the story, allowing it to fall together, piece by piece, to build to the ultimate crescendo.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allen Peacock

    In a spellbinding follow-up to his epic and enduring novel, Time’s Betrayal, author David Adams Cleveland employs the lens of the infamous Hiss-Chambers trial of 1950 to create a vast secret history of the American Century. Cold War espionage, serial political assassination, and a full chest of family secrets are braided together across multiple generations in a saga that is at once torn from the “red scare” headlines of the McCarthy era and spun from the febrile imagination of one of our most g In a spellbinding follow-up to his epic and enduring novel, Time’s Betrayal, author David Adams Cleveland employs the lens of the infamous Hiss-Chambers trial of 1950 to create a vast secret history of the American Century. Cold War espionage, serial political assassination, and a full chest of family secrets are braided together across multiple generations in a saga that is at once torn from the “red scare” headlines of the McCarthy era and spun from the febrile imagination of one of our most gifted storytellers. Riveting. Symphonic in its sweep. Unforgettable.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hassel Shearer

    Gods of Deception by David Adams Cleveland I found this a very difficult book to rate. There is much I thoroughly enjoyed and other parts that just dragged on and on and on. Btw I just looked online and it is a real doorstopper at 928 pages. The novel is a historical fictional account of the before, during and afterwards of the Alger Hiss case of the early 1950’s. This case divided many Americans. On the Left, there were those who could not believe a handsome, Harvard educated lawyer, with an el Gods of Deception by David Adams Cleveland I found this a very difficult book to rate. There is much I thoroughly enjoyed and other parts that just dragged on and on and on. Btw I just looked online and it is a real doorstopper at 928 pages. The novel is a historical fictional account of the before, during and afterwards of the Alger Hiss case of the early 1950’s. This case divided many Americans. On the Left, there were those who could not believe a handsome, Harvard educated lawyer, with an elegant wife could possibly have been a spy. The case took place during the Red Fear sweeping America with the rise of the Soviet Union, the loss of China and the beginnings of the HUAC McCarthy Hearings. The non-fiction part of the book is well told. I did think the fictional introduction of another Harvard educated lawyer- Judge Edward Demock, one year younger than Hiss who represents him in his perjury trial is a very good idea. Dimock too has a highly educated wife, a talented pianist and lover of the arts in general. They live in a house near Woodstock NY with its glorious Italian Renaissance ceiling wooden. The house with its ceiling but perhaps more importantly its bedrooms frozen in time for each of the family children now 50 years later serves to bring up their tormented memories of life growing up with these two elitist parents. Now in 2002, one year after 9/11, Dimock aged 95 his memoirs in draft form, enlists his grandson, George Altmann, a brilliant Princeton astrophysicist to edit and review the memoir. So far, so good. But then Mr. Cleveland needs to go back in time to add Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. whom he clerked for just out of Harvard to add in my opinion far over the top justification for his good and bad decision making in the Hiss defense and the raising of his children. At the same time, his own children and grandchildren take up many pages due to their dislike of their father/grandfather in his dominance of their lives. They do seem to have love for their dead mother- Annie even though she seems to only have loved them if they learned to play the piano at a concert level. The last character to add to this mix is Wendy, a world class mountain climbing person with an MFA from Yale in Art. She is the love interest and the one with spirit to pull George out of his arrested childhood. Fortunately, she has dead parents to at least eliminate pushing the page total over 1000. Sometimes ,it does get difficult to remember which of the Dimock’s are his children and which are grandchildren and who doesn’t know who their father was, who slept with what rock stars and how after twenty years away are willing to come back to the Dimock House for one last chance to torment their father/ grandfather. While all this is going on the puzzle of Hiss is being pieced together. I found the basic historical telling of the Whittaker Chamber, Alger Hiss saga very interesting. The addition of the Judge and his astrophysicist grandson and sinewy but creative love interest an interesting way to move the story along. But the back sad stories of the rest of the family was just to0 much. Take that part out and at 400 pages a very good read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan Brotemarkle

  9. 4 out of 5

    Judy appell

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maryellen Fricke

  12. 4 out of 5

    Don McClure

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Lueders

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elise

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarina

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Adams

  21. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Hughes

  22. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  23. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  24. 4 out of 5

    Damen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  26. 4 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Bannister

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Stamm

  29. 5 out of 5

    Connie Wilson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Agan

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  32. 4 out of 5

    Yueyee Vue

  33. 4 out of 5

    Shanon

  34. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

  35. 4 out of 5

    John

  36. 5 out of 5

    Phillip III

  37. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

  38. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  39. 5 out of 5

    Meg Rossiter

  40. 5 out of 5

    Mena

  41. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  42. 4 out of 5

    Guy Blackstone

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