Book Review: Three Minutes to Doomsday by Joe Navarro

© Scribner, 2017.

When it comes to books, non-fiction typically isn’t something I’m interested in. Lately though, I’ve found a few from that genre that have piqued my interest, most notably former FBI Agent Joe Navarro’s Three Minutes to Doomsday, Andrew Leatherbarrow’s Chernobyl: 01:23:40, and another upcoming novel entitled The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. The latter two of these books I’ll discuss at another time, because this review is about Navarro’s latest book, detailing the final moments of the Cold War and the arrests of Clyde Conrad and Rod Ramsey.

I was born in the late 90s, so this particular espionage case is not something I had any knowledge about before opening Navarro’s book. All I knew was that it took place shortly before I was born and had extremely high risks associated with it. Given my tastes in crime, movies, and most fiction, this seemed to be something that would appeal to my interests and I was not wrong. In this account of Joe Navarro’s pursuit of Rod Ramsey against attempts at hampering the investigation by the FBIHQ and Washington Field Office, readers discover just how terrifying close we came to a crushing defeat with the information sold by Conrad and Ramsey.

The build-up to Ramsey’s arrest, trial, and conviction is agonizingly slow, which is quite suiting given that the process itself was not only flawed by those higher up in rank than Navarro, but nearly crippled by inaction. It was easy to feel Navarro’s tension and frustration, while simultaneously granting readers that may prefer fiction over non-fiction a very human-like perspective of an account that might have seemed uninteresting.

The only nitpick I truly have is how unclear the passage of time is. Whether or not this was intentional, I do not know. I just know that I prefer clear indications of time’s passing. Other than that, it is clear from his style of writing that Former Agent Navarro is, first and foremost, a gentleman in every aspect of the word.

Joe Navarro’s memoir of this espionage case is mind-numbing and terrifyingly well-written and I would like to thank NetGalley, Scribner, and Joe Navarro for this advanced copy for review. Not only that, I would like to thank Former Agent Joe Navarro especially for his service to our country, and his drive to fulfill his duty to his fellow Americans first.

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