Reading Group Guide
1. Eva Blake goes to prison for something she neither remembers nor believes she did. Even so, on her lawyer's advice she pleads guilty to get the best possible deal. If you were facing the same situation, what would you do?
2. What aspect of the book did you find most appealing? The characters? The exotic locales? The Library of Gold? The inside view of espionage? The clandestine history? The references to books and reading?
3. All of the details in The Book of Spies regarding modern espionage --- particularly the CIA, its operations and methods --- are meticulously researched. Which of the "spies" in the book did you find most convincing? Intriguing? Sympathetic? Do you think you could, or ever would, be a spy?
4. There is a scene in Italy that takes place in a hidden underground passage to the Cloaca Maxima --- an ancient Roman sewer. What do you think it would be like to discover an ancient site in your basement? Where would you most like that basement to be?
5. The book club in this novel is a secret cabal of very rich, very powerful men with enormous hidden impact around the world. Do you believe that such groups exist or could exist? Could such a group remain hidden from the media and major governments?
6. The book opens with a quote --- "In the abstruse world of espionage, it's not always easy to know when you are in on a secret." How did you think this quote related to the novel? What do you think it means and do you agree? Has that ever happened to you?
7. In The Book of Spies, there is a "black ops" unit called Catapult. What do you think about the CIA's use of seemingly legitimate groups and companies?
8. The Book of Spies tells us at least half of the officers and employees working for the CIA are "new hires" --- not veterans but people who started after the 9/11 attacks. Why do you think that is and what do you think the effect, if any, has been on our national security?
9. At the center of the novel is a fabulous long-lost library. Are there any lost books --- ancient or modern --- you would particularly like to read? What do you think the effect to the world would be if such a collection of books was suddenly discovered? If you could find something long lost, what would it be?