eARC Book Review: The Spy That Was Left Behind by Michael Pullara

Cover Image of The Spy Who Was Left Behind by Michael PullaraAuthor: Michael Pullara

Hardcover: 352 pages

Publisher: Scribner (November 13, 2018)

ISBN-10: 1501152130

ISBN-13: 978-1501152139

Genre: True Crime

Pre-Order it here: Amazon

Source: I received an ARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


The shocking true story of international intrigue involving the 1993 murder of CIA officer Freddie Woodruff by KGB agents and the extensive cover-up that followed in Washington and in Moscow.

On August 8, 1993, a single bullet to the head killed Freddie Woodruff, the Central Intelligence Agency’s station chief in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Within hours, police had a suspect—a vodka-soaked village bumpkin named Anzor Sharmaidze. A tidy explanation quickly followed: It was a tragic accident. US diplomats hailed Georgia’s swift work, and both countries breathed a sigh of relief.

Yet the bullet that killed Woodruff was never found and key witnesses have since retracted their testimony, saying they were beaten and forced to identify Sharmaidze. But if he didn’t do it, who did? Those who don’t buy the official explanation think the answer lies in the spy games that played out on Russia’s frontier following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Woodruff was an early actor in a dangerous drama. American spies were moving into newborn nations previously dominated by Soviet intelligence. Russia’s security apparatus, resentful and demoralized, was in turmoil, its nominal loyalty to a pro-Western course set by President Boris Yeltsin, shredded by hardline spooks and generals who viewed the Americans as a menace.

At the time when Woodruff was stationed there, Georgia was a den of intrigue. It had a big Russian military base and was awash with former and not-so-former Soviet agents. Shortly before Woodruff was shot, veteran CIA officer Aldrich Ames—who would soon be unmasked as a KGB mole—visited him on agency business. In short order, Woodruff would be dead and Ames, in prison for life. Buckle up, because The Spy Who Was Left Behind reveals the full-throttle, little-known thrilling tale.

My Thoughts

After reading, The Spy Who Was Left Behind, my brain felt like it was overloaded. It felt as if I had sat through an in-depth debriefing. There was so much information that was given, that I was left feeling overwhelmed and at times confused.  It felt as if I needed to be creating an outline as I read, to keep all of the information straight. For me, it was a struggle to get through. This book was just not for me.

However, if you enjoy a very detailed, true crime read, this book is for you. The Spy Who Was Left Behind is a book that’s information-rich as the author did his homework and relayed everything to the reader as if no stone was left unturned.



About the Author

Michael Pullara, author of The Spy Who Was Left Behind

A trial lawyer by training, Michael Pullara has pursued the case of Freddie Woodruff for more than ten years. He lives in Texas. The Spy Who Was Left Behind is his first book.



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