Tod Hoffman


Tod Hoffman

"Hoffman possesses a solid command of his material and conveys the secretive nature of espionage agencies with a novelist's panache."

"The hunt is electrifying...Hoffman's knowledge of the espionage business [is] shared with us in vivid writing...The Spy Within illuminate[s] the thicket of deception, mis-direction and confusion that is the high-stakes real-world game of spy vs. spy."

Montreal Gazette

Vadim Daniel Photography
Steerforth Press 2008

The Spy Within

Larry Chin and China’s Penetration of the C.I.A.

A true story that reads like an espionage thriller

In October 1982, the FBI received notice from the CIA that was as cryptic as it was chilling: China was running a spy somewhere inside US intelligence.

For the next three years, investigators laboured frantically to identify the mole, to discover the secrets he had betrayed and the agents he had endangered. They also collected evidence to convict him.

Larry Chin was the top Chinese linguist working for the C.I.A. And for 30 years, he was China’s top spy. His tenure spanned such pivotal events as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the Vietnam War, and President Richard Nixon’s groundbreaking visit to Beijing. Chin’s reports were circulated to China’s senior leadership, reaching Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping.

The Spy Within recounts one of the most significant cases in the history of espionage; the longest running penetration ever. It offers unique insights into the mysterious realm of Chinese intelligence tradecraft. It reveals untold details about the investigation and prosecution of Larry Chin, including new information about the Chinese defector who sounded the initial alarm.


Tod Hoffman was given exclusive interviews by the key players in the affair, most of whom have never before spoken publicly. He gained access to previously unreleased documents through Freedom of Information Act requests.

An eight-year veteran of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Hoffman served on the Counter-Intelligence: China desk. He brings the practical experience of a spy-catcher to his research.