Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Interview with Author Daniel F. Cameron




1.      What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into a book? Having worked with CIA, I was motivated to write about both the fascinating and uninteresting aspects of life as a spy.  Very often people glamorize what can truly be long and tedious periods of inactivity, suddenly turned upside down by urgent events – the daring steal of vital documents, the inopportune appearance of someone wanting to unmask you, the fortuitous encounter with a random character who ultimately leads you to unexpected triumph.  I also felt that the story of Operation HABRINK, which involved obtaining vital Soviet anti-aircraft missile manuals, thus saving thousands of lives during the Vietnam War, had not been properly told.  Considered to be one of the Agency’s most daring and successful operations, HABRINK unfortunately became public knowledge, owing to the betrayal of David Barnett.  But to this day, the details of how success was achieved remained secret.  This was a chance to set the record straight.  It also was a way for me to pay tribute to my closest friend, Wim Vermuelen, a former member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II.  And finally, writing this memoir, allowed me to extoll the beauties of Southeast Asia, and of the landscape, culture, and peoples of Java.


2.      What is it about and who is it for? It’s about acquiring Soviet military secrets in the unlikely setting of tropical Indonesia.  It’s about deep friendship and trust, but also about betrayal and the murders that ensued.  The book is also an analysis of ongoing US foreign policy and a rumination on the wonders of a mystical world.  It’s meant to attract readers who would like to know more about the nitty-gritty of spying as well as those who like foreign travel and cultures. 


3.      What do you hope the reader will be left with after reading it? A better understanding of what intelligence is all about and how difficult, painstaking, and yet quixotic the road to successful spying can be. Also a glimpse into the personal and first-hand experiences of working and living in a beautiful but politically and socially tumultuous time and place. 


4.      What advice or wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Don’t give up.  Don’t let others try to impose their point of view on whatever it is you want to say.  Often well-meaning friends think your story is what they believe it is; it’s not.  It’s your story, and it’s tough but necessary to keep your point of view from being subverted.  Also, don’t feel a memoir has to be entirely written in prose. 


5.      What trends in the book world do you see – and where do you think the book publishing industry is headed? There are too many self-help books being written.  Too many vapid celebrity tales.  But at the same time, there is a whole new world opening up for eloquent political analysts and for ever more-gifted international novelists. 


6.      What challenges did you overcome to write this book? I nearly died from a fall and ensuing infections in 2016/20107, just at a point when I was ready to submit my manuscript to the Agency for review.  Subsequently, when I got better, I had to re-write large portions of the book, as the Agency had redacted nearly half of it.  So I had to figure out clever ways to circumvent the rules without revealing anything considered to be classified and, at the same time, without watering down some of the more colorful incidents and details. 


7.      If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? It tells the truth about a very difficult mission which resulted in saving American lives during the Vietnam War.  It also tells the tale of a poor kid who ends up working for CIA in exotic Southeast Asia.  And it offers a glimpse of Realpolitik in the 1960s, when the Soviets and Chinese were vying for power in that part of the world.  Lastly, I hope I am able to convey some of the wonders and joys of living among a great people.


About The Author: Daniel F. Cameron worked at CIA from 1960 for 22 years, retiring in 1982 as Chief of Operations, East Asia.  Born in 1931 and raised in a working class neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, he developed an early love for classical music and a penchant for secrecy.  He received a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard College and a master’s from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs from Syracuse University.  Recruited by CIA, he spent the next decades exploring Indonesia, Malysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Laos, Myanmar, as well as Australia and New Zealand. He makes his home in New York City. Link to purchase book:


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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2021. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America. For more information, please consult: 

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