, with black slanted letters on the spine reading "Spies of WW II," and, impressed onto the front cover, black letters, tiny trenches, with golden brims, reading:The Greatest Spies of World War Two. The book was big and weighty. I'd put it on my knees, but then its weight would spread my legs and the book would close itself and slip to the floor. And I'd lie on my belly and rest my head on the scaffold of my hands and read. When my elbows would begin to ache, I'd recline my cheek on the thicker half of the book, incline the other half, feeling the sticky moisture connecting my cheek and a spy's face, secrets of WW II just inches away from my absorbing pupils.

There were lots of black-and-white pictures: a five-man column -- surrounded by soldiers pointing rifles -- with their hands on the napes of their necks; when I would narrow my eyes, they'd look like black-and-white butterflies; the head of a chubby member of the Rote Kappelle, with an asymmetrical face: nose slightly on the left side, right eye hardly opened and seemingly asleep, mouth kept shut with effort, as if there was a spring of blood behind the feeble lips -- I just knew from his face that his hands (swollen wrists, bloody, burning trenches under the cuffs) were handcuffed; a picture of General Montgomery standing, arms akimbo, turned sideways, looking at the upper-left corner of the page, with the timeless beret parallel with his gaze: General Montgomery's doppelganger, just the head, looking at me with odd pensiveness, as if painfully aware that he could never be General Montgomery; a row of blindfolded people in white in front of the ready firing squad and a smiling officer, his right arm raised, pointing at the upper-right corner of the picture. And, near the end, there was Sorge -- "at the outset of his mission in Japan" framed by a door behind his back, standing legs apart (left foot NW, right foot NE) in a dark trenchcoat, one hand pocketed, the other somewhat clenched, holding a purse or a camera case; and his head: fiendish ears, large and ill-shaped; lips shut tight, as if his teeth were biting the inside of his lower lip; the wide base triangle of his nose, its top angle connected, by two deep furrows, with two dark dots in the corners of his mouth; lightless twin-holes, at the bottom of which were his eyes; and the black-inked helmet of hair.

The picture was obviously retouched: Sorge's anxiety was burdened with someone else's curtained body. One could see the sharp cut at the verge of his collar, where his head, guillotined in a shadowy laboratory, was attached to a headless trenchcoat -- plus an inexplicable excess of neck-flesh on the left side. But I believed that Sorge was in that trenchcoat. I believed that he was about to enter the door-apparition behind his back. I believed in the totality of that picture, I believed in the apparent, and I trusted books. I was ten.