Resurfaced: Peter Perl’s ‘The Spy Who’s Been Left in the Cold’ (1998)

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We’re excited to introduce a recurring series in which we work with publishers to dig up notable stories from their archives that were previously unpublished on the web. And we’re especially excited to kick this off with The Washington Post

Today’s piece is “The Spy Who’s Been Left in the Cold,” a 1998 Washington Post Magazine story by Peter Perl, who just announced he’s retiring from the paper after 32 years. Here’s more from the Post’s Marc Fisher:

“In the Washington Post newsroom in recent years, Peter Perl has been the official mensch, the go-to guy both for reporters trying to figure out their career paths and for editors struggling with how to keep aggressive and smart journalism at the fore even in an ever-tougher economic environment. But beyond his avuncular manner and wise counsel, what made Perl one of the newsroom’s most respected figures was what he’d done for the first quarter century of his time at the paper: Perl, who is retiring from The Post shortly, was a master storyteller, a specialist in the art of profiling people who didn’t want to be profiled and public figures who were assumed by journalists and readers alike to be overexposed. Perl drilled down to the psychological roots of former Washington Mayor Marion Barry’s struggle between the morality of fighting for the poor and the amorality of doing whatever it took to get his way. He discovered and sensitively revealed the hurt child beneath D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams’ oddly distant public persona. And in this finely-etched, subtly-shaded profile of a man he didn’t even get to meet, Perl shows us the many facets of Jonathan Pollard, the American intelligence analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison. It is a story of deceit and betrayal, but also of devotion and righteousness. It is a typical Peter Perl tale, ignoring the easy conclusions and trusting that readers will come with him on a journey into the grey zone where all the most fascinating stories live.”

Read the story here. 

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