The Sandmeyer Reaction


This is not — surprisingly — an excerpt from my novel Moonglow. That’s surprising to me, at any rate, because the incidents related in “The Sandmeyer Reaction” were central to my idea of the novel and its protagonist almost from the start.

“The Sandmeyer Reaction”

Not long before he died, I jotted down the names of the devices and tools my grandfather remembered having contrived during the months he spent working for Stanley Lovell, the O.S.S.’s deputy director for special projects, in the basement of a building at 23rd and E. Lovell, a chemist and patent lawyer, had been personally recruited by “Wild Bill” Donovan to equip clandestine operatives in Europe, North Africa and the Far East. Lovell and his R&D team set to work devising the fountain-pen pistols, lipstick cameras and cyanide-filled shirt buttons that have since featured in the panoplies of movie and television spies. They found new approaches to infiltration, sabotage and secret communication. They hit on ways to kill the enemy with cunning and panache, with exploding pancake flour and incendiary bats.¹



Berkeley, California

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