Craig Unger's new book, American Kompromat, tells of the spies and salacious events underpinning men's reputations and riches. It tells how a relatively insignificant targeting operation by the KGB's New York rezidentura (New York Station) more than forty years ago--an attempt to recruit an influential businessman as a new asset--triggered a sequence of intelligence protocols that morphed into the greatest intelligence bonanza in history. And it tells of a coterie of associates, reaching all the way into the office of the Attorney General, who stood to advance power, and themselves. Based on extensive, exclusive interviews with dozens of high-level sources--Soviets who resigned from the KGB and moved to the United States, former officers in the CIA, FBI counterintelligence agents, lawyers at white-shoe Washington firms--and analysis of thousands of pages of FBI investigations, police investigations, and news articles in English, Russian, and Ukrainian, American Kompromat shows that something much more sinister and important has been taking place than the public could ever imagine: namely, that from Donald Trump to Jeffrey Epstein, kompromat operations documented the darkest secrets of the most powerful people in the world and transformed them into potent weapons.
Unger’s narrative of collusion relies on piling up any and all damning information he can muster. However, in some cases, the very volume of information undercuts the strength of his argument ... American Kompromat uncovers no secrets, nor does it reveal much that is new, but it reminds us that there is still much left to learn. We know that Trump was compromised, but we’re not sure exactly how.
The subtitle of Unger’s book is How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power and Treachery – a rubric that enables the author to throw in almost every bit of unconfirmed gossip ever published about everyone from convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein to former British press magnate Robert Maxwell. And Maxwell’s daughter, Ghislaine, who was – or wasn’t, depending on which page of this book you’re on – Epstein’s girlfriend as well as allegedly his collaborator in recruiting underage girls to sate Epstein’s seemingly unquenchable sexual appetite ... And so it goes throughout Unger’s book: dozens and dozens of wild stories and salacious accusations, almost all 'too good to check', in the parlance of old-time journalists ... Details [...] keep you turning the pages. But Unger’s willingness to include almost anything to titillate makes this book wildly uneven, and ultimately unsatisfactory.