The Spike: Covering the disinformation war

The descender on P in Spike plus hammer and sickle symbolsplits an American flag
Spiked stories about what’s going on in the world let Russia divide the US

The Spike is two international reporters’ attempt to make foreign policy relevant to a mass audience by borrowing  fictional techniques from John le Carré and Ken Follett.

Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss aren’t able to pull it off.

Their story is about Bob Hockney, whose experience at Berkeley during the Vietnam protests led him into journalism.

Hockney wants to investigate how media bias has lulled Americans into discounting Russian malice toward America. He reports from Vietnam, then returns to America to seek whoever is responsible for getting the President and Congress to turn a blind eye to Russian activities.

The story comes to a boil when, as troops invade North Yemen from Aden, the French report Soviet pilots using South Yemeni planes are bombing North Yemen.

Hockney is implausible as a journalist, unmemorable as a protagonist, and ludicrous as a leading man. The story is equally unmemorable.

Despite its  flaws, The Spike  reads like today’s news.

There’s  feuding among White House staff.

The president is alienating America’s allies.

And the premise of The Spike —that Russia is using disinformation to achieve its aim of global supremacy—may be an even more serious threat today than it was in 1980.

The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss
Crown Publishers. 1st ed. ©1980. 374 p.
1980 bestseller #10. My grade: B

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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