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Dan Fesperman’s 13th thriller, “Winter Work,” is set just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi, East Germany’s brutal Cold War intelligence service, was busy destroying evidence. The C.I.A. was just as busy trying to learn the enemy organization’s secrets.
“The C.I.A., initially, had people calling ex-Stasi agents,” Fesperman says on this week’s podcast. “They got a hold of a directory with home phone numbers of some of these Stasi foreign intelligence people. And they started cold-calling them — like salesmen, like these irritating calls we get at home, except for the Stasi it was the C.I.A. calling. ‘Hey, would you like to share your secrets with us? We can pay you.’ They were getting mostly hang-ups, a lot of angry lectures. And when that quickly didn’t work out, they then began visiting them door to door, which didn’t work a whole lot better.”