Mobius: A Memoir – Available Now

A Life of Deception and Frustrated Passion
February 13, 2021
A Limited Edition of 100 copies of Mobius: A Memoir by Richard Thieme printed by The Workshop (Arcadia CA.has sold out. Signed copies from the author and copies for Kindle and in print are available from Amazon.

A copy is US$25 + $5 mailing (in the US) by PayPal, Venmo, or check to Richard Thieme. Mailing costs to other countries provided on request. PayPal to [email protected] or Venmo to rthieme_thiemeworks.

Thieme considers Mobius: A Memoir his finest work. See About Richard Thieme



Here are two readers who responded to the existential challenge that faced Mobius… and faced them after they read it:

A veteran security practitioner in the Netherlands

My easy recognition of what I was reading had me worried about overexposure to tradecraft and general deviousness. I tried explaining this to my partner but found it impossible. After muttering a few descriptive horrible memories that made neither head nor tail of it (but didn’t exactly lighten the atmosphere) I called it quits.

From an assistant deputy director at NSA

Mobius arrived. I opened the package and, of course, immediately started glancing through the book to get a sense of it. I became intrigued and could not put it down. Other matters I needed to be attending to became nuisances, interfering with my desire to be reading Mobius.
As I got into it, I came to fully appreciate the multiple matters-are-not-what-they-seem levels the real author, Richard, constructed. Readers who have had or still have careers in the IC will know that Richard well understands their “world”, and they will be able to identify with the feelings, thoughts, and conundrums.

Readers who know Richard, have worked in the IC, and have shared experiences and thinking with him may get the surprise I got when I suddenly realized – this is me! It stopped me cold. This is not fiction.

I wanted to share with my “Penny” the memories, thoughts, and feelings being generated by the book. Then I realized I was where Nick found himself: she would not understand. It would sound as if I had gotten myself mentally tangled around in a Mobius fiction.

Thank you Nick-Divor-Richard for the memories, thoughts, and feelings.

Richard Thieme, a legendary guru of young hackers everywhere and a guy excruciatingly well-versed in life in the bowels of governmental secrecy, manages a raw and at times even tender, deep dive into a world of secrecy and nigh capricious bureaucracy that extracts a great human price. Read it at your peril, but in doing so emerge ready to better treasure your simple and honest pleasures. Thieme writes Mobius with all the tragic beauty of a fallen Angel.

Rebecca Hoffberger

Founder and Director, American Visionary Art Museum

“I absolutely loved the book. It was quite a hero’s journey with the
pitfalls that so often plague the hero. I also loved the
structure—the impressionistic painting of the broad narrative with
the honed in story of the narrator and Penny. I frequently Googled
people or events to see which ones were openly known to be real.
And I sat there musing about who Richard Thieme really was. What
a ride!!!”
A Washington DC Executive

“Everything in the first thirty pages is my head and my life turned inside out.”
a special ops veteran

Beautifully written. Mobius is the everyman of the intelligence world, cavalierly sidestepping ethical quandaries and hanging onto his humanity with the help of his sole (soul) friend, Penny. But every man has his limits. This adventure to the underworld is well worth taking.
a journalist

This book. It’s intense. Read it if you want to learn the inner thoughts of a spy after decades of deception. The rest of us are ‘humplings,’ happily thinking one thing about reality, and maybe we should stay naive and not read this book. But I am glad to be reading it, learning how I as a media person could be manipulated into believing a string of facts that are put out for me like breadcrumbs. This is based on TRUTH, but written as Fiction. I strongly recommend anyone who wants to get inside the head of a spy, particularly one who is now old and experiencing regrets, give this a read.
a security journalist/author

“I have only one thing to say: buy this amazing work. Richard, your other
work and books are phenomenal but this one caps them all. A must have, not
only for our clans, but for any library that has any security/intel books at all”
a security professional of many years

An incredible story, pick it up and you won’t put it down. Richard Thieme’s level of consciousness and storytelling is spellbinding. A hall of mirrors, instead of hiding what’s true, the mirrored kaleidoscope becomes the truth. An old Jewish proverb has it that ‘story is truer than truth’, here the turning and twisting story becomes the truth. Here lies our unseen contemporary history, told from the inside about the people who make history.

NSA veteran

Software Entrepreneur

“Mobius is as real as it is surreal.”
a former KGB "illegal" during the Cold War:

Richard Thieme’s latest book ‘Mobius’ truly is a beautiful compilation of all the occupational mental warps one develops by spending a professional career inside that house of mirrors commonly referred to as the ‘intelligence community’. He brilliantly captures what it does to a person when you spend your entire life compartmentalizing both the information in your head, as well as the people in your professional and social life. It’s full of these odd little quirks and mental pathways you’ll recognize all too well, and you can’t help but wonder how he got into your head like that. In fact, he captures all of this so well, that I spent the entire last quarter of the book wondering…. “Who is Richard Thieme really?”. At the same time, it’s a strong and damning social critique of the ever-present surveillance society we live in, and the tragic plight of the modern whistleblower. An absolute must-read!
security veteran in the Netherlands

This book is an intense look at the life of a spy and his search for what is real in the midst of the unreal in his life. There are poignant intermittent moments in his search because of his relationship to Penny, who is crucial in his ultimate discovery. Thieme’s own journey brings rich meaning to the story of Nick. This is an excellent read, masterfully crafted.
a reader

The best “genre” spy fiction, notably that by Le Carré and Greene, addresses the toll that a career built on deception takes on one’s relationships and psyche, but this always happens within the larger context of a suspense story with a more or less formulaic plot arc. Richard Thieme’s new book pulls off the opposite: it’s an in-depth exploration of how someone who starts out with a typical moral compass learns to deceive (everyone, everywhere) and even to torture, and subsequently is forced to come to terms with the disconnect between the requirements and sensibility of his work, and what he knows to be right. Along the way, the protagonist (Mobius/Nick) carries out a covert drop/exchange with a Dutch asset, meets various people for clandestine conversations, and dives into the front lines of Extraordinary Rendition. These are all strong passages, but in this book the action serves to tell us more about the protagonist’s inner self, which is where the story really takes place. (If you think about it, isn’t that true for each of us?) For me, this unconventional structure works for the simple reason that I find the protagonist engaging, unpredictable, and if not always sympathetic at least good company. (His arrogance, which seems to be common among people who think they have a lock on “how the world really works”, can be off-putting at times. However, it’s at least matched with acute self-awareness and, ultimately, a conscience. This is a character in some serious need of redemption, and he knows it.) So this book is a meditation more than a story per se, a meditation with many timely insights on how realities are subverted, often replaced by new ones created out of thin air, and imposed on us by powerful people with few scruples who claim to be acting “for our own good.” This is a common thread in much of Thieme’s body of work, and he always finds fresh angles on it. If you’re after car chases and explosions you won’t find them here, but if you’re ready for a thinking person’s book about what it might be like to be in the actual, real-world, covert services, I enthusiastically recommend “Mobius: a Memoir!”
former editor of security journal

I have been meditating on your words. So much insightful nuance.
an experienced security professional

“your book is brilliant. You’ve nailed it, Thieme. Can not get enough. Thank you.”
a clergyman

Definitely a book that is sorely needed inside the fence. I hope that it makes it into our libraries.

A veteran "insider" of the IC

Richard Thieme’s “Mobius: A Memoir” is written on at least three levels of rhetoric (as was Moby Dick, according to Wikipedia): It is a very enjoyable read as an instructive spy-like novel for lay readers; it is also a wise book for techies, and a thoughtful challenge to Intelligence-aware insiders as to what is really going on — often invisibly. Recognizing that a mobius strip is a one-dimensional surface on which we unavoidably keep coming back to where we started, Mobius is actually a metaphor for the entire novel: while doubling back on itself, this book encourages us to incrementally reflect on where we have been, where we might be headed, and when we might need to move off the treadmill. Intriguingly, the author of the novel might be referred to as Mobius Dick (Richard), who in turn declares that the memoir is attributed to Mobius Nick (Cerk). I really loved the book, but then I am both a reader for enjoyment and also a lurking insider.

Peter Neumann

Chief Scientist, SRI

Mobius is an adroit presentation of the dark side of some government agencies and the vagaries of their brilliant agents. Weaved into the story is a definition of the problems associated with making and breaking a relationship. A good read throughout.
a reader out there

“A George Smiley for Our Times” – retired IC professional

This is Richard Thieme’s best work to date. Mobius is a trip through a surreal hall of mirrors known as the Intelligence Community, at times gripping or depressing, but always dazzling. Knowing something of that world, I feel Thieme nailed it. The only unrealistic thing in Mobius was the happy ending – unlike Nick, most IC officers never pay the terrible price required to save their souls. What made the difference for Nick was his love for Penny, for at its heart, Mobius is a love story. Nick’s love for Penny (regardless of whether she loves him back) gives him clarity and strength to fight the darkness threatening to engulf him. Penny’s patients also move Nick (and the reader), especially Paul, an Iraq vet with PTSD who Thieme brings to life in quick, deft strokes. As for the main character Nick, he’s a George Smiley for our times, world weary, cynical, yet retaining enough idealism for us to root for him despite the terrible
things he does. Highly recommended.

Michael McCormick

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