The Falcon and the Snowman:

A True Story of Friendship and Espionage

This fascinating account of how two young Americans turned traitor during the Cold War is an “absolutely smashing real-life spy story” (The New York Times Book Review). 

At the height of the Cold War, some of the nation’s most precious secrets passed through a CIA contractor in Southern California. Only a handful of employees were cleared to handle the intelligence that came through the Black Vault. One of them was Christopher John Boyce, a hard-partying genius with a sky-high IQ, a passion for falconry, and little love for his country. Security at the Vault was so lax, Boyce couldn’t help but be tempted. And when he gave in, the fate of the free world would hang in the balance.

With the help of his best friend, Andrew Daulton Lee, a drug dealer with connections south of the border, Boyce began stealing classified documents and selling them to the Soviet embassy in Mexico City. It was an audacious act of treason, committed by two spoiled young men who were nearly always drunk, stoned, or both—and were about to find themselves caught in the middle of a fight between the CIA and the KGB.

This Edgar Award–winning book was the inspiration for the critically acclaimed film starring Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn—a true story as thrilling as any dreamed up by Ian Fleming or John le Carré. Before Edward Snowden, there were Boyce and Lee, two of the most unlikely spies in the history of the Cold War.

About the Author

Robert Lindsey (b. 1935) is a journalist and the author of several award-winning true crime books. He won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime for The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage, which the New York Times called “one of the best nonfiction spy stories ever to appear in this country.”
  • Print Length: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media; Reprint edition (September 6, 2016)
  • Original: Simon & Schuster; 1st ed. edition (1979)



Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Journalist Lindsey adroitly chronicles the true story of Andrew Daulton Lee and Christopher John Boyce, two high school buddies from good families who were tried and convicted of espionage. Boyce’s FBI agent father landed the floundering 21-year-old a job developing satellites for the CIA. With Lee’s help, Boyce set out to sell government secrets to the Soviets. The two then embarked on a covert operation complete with code names, spy cameras, and other trappings that James Bond would have envied.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“A balanced, objective, powerful story, which pulls you deeply into the lives of these young felons . . . You simply won’t be able to dismiss them.” —The New York TimesBook Review

Compelling. The first book of the last two decades that makes us understand how the boy next door could become a superspy.” —The New York Times

“Remarkable. A real-life spy story as gripping and full of suspense as anything one could invent. Robert Lindsey tells us everything we want to know about this odd couple. He has done a superb job of research and writing.” —Ken Follett, #1 New York Times–bestselling author

From the Back Cover

Tense, intriguing, and darkly compelling, The Falcon and the Snowman is a uniquely American story of betrayal. On the face of it, there was nothing to indicate that Andrew Dalton Lee and Christopher James Boyce were anything but two devout Catholic boys growing up in happy, warm families in one of the most affluent suburbs in America, living one version of the American Dream and facing nothing but the best of futures.Bright and idealistic, the son of a former FBI agent, 21-year-old Boyce was adrift in the malaise and disenchantment of the late 1960s. His high school friend Dalton Lee had wandered from his childhood days as an altar boy to become a successful drug dealer in trouble with the law and looking for the big score. In July of 1974 Boyce’s father used his influence to help his son get a job at TRW, a Southern California aerospace company that was developing and manufacturing satellites used by the CIA. Less than a year later Boyce and Lee launched a plan to sell the CIA’s secrets to the Russians and began a career as Soviet agents, complete with international intrigue, secret codes, clandestine meetings, and miniature cameras. The Falcon and the Snowman is, ultimately, a dark story of murder plots, betrayal, and the wrenching consequences of impulsive decisions. Intensively researched, it draws on hundreds of interviews with all the principals involved, on letters, and on materials from Boyce and Lee’s eventual trials. Robert Lindsey has crafted a suspenseful, extraordinary tale that pulls readers in on the first page and leaves them wanting more by book’s end. (6 x 9, 360 pages)
Amazon Reviews
A Sad Statement On American Youth
 This is one of those books whose greatness lost out to the attraction of the big screen of Hollywood. Yes, the book, penned by journalist Robert Lindsey, is better. Lindsey is thorough and supplies in-depth detail after detail, taking the reader into the 1970s world of drug-using and dealing, the American intelligence community — even the world of falconry. What it essentially boils down to is the story of two sociopaths (Lindsey doesn’t delve into the world of psychology and his great coverage stands on its own merit).
Why would two well-raised, fairly wealthy 20-somethings sell above-top-secret intelligence to the Soviet Union and risk the lives of the world via nuclear holocaust? In the case of dope-dealing Andrew Daulton Lee, it boiled down to nothing more than money, a power-trip and excitement. In the case of Christopher John Boyce, the rationale was more idealistic.
Yes, one can argue that America was built “by the few for the few.” Yes, the world’s greatest democracy has over the years and to its own end repressed foreign governments. Hypocrisy, plain and simple. But neither money nor idealism of this sort can justify selling out one’s county.
It’s a thought-provoking book that elicits strong emotions, all while reading like excellent, exciting fiction. But it’s also a statement of American justice. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. As of 2010, both men have been free for more than a decade (they were convicted in 1977 — Lee was released in 1998, and Boyce in 2002, AFTER a prison escape and 17 bank robberies). But the latter is another story.
If you want a good, unique read, you can’t go wrong with this relatively unheralded book.
History that reads like fiction
What makes this book so good is how easy it is to read. The author was able to create a historical account with pacing and depth of character that reads like any of the best fiction novels on the market. This was an interesting, confusing, and damaging event n U.S. history and this book did a great job of telling the story. One of the best jobs of getting the reader involved with the subjects in a historical book that I`ve ever read.

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