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The Billion Dollar Spy

  by David E. Hoffman

(about 396 pages)
total words
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
passive voice
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all adverbs
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of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

an American intelligence officer. He might be walking into a trap. They started walking. Both were in their early thirties. Rolph saw that Sheymov’s face was smooth, clean, boyish. He wore a military-style cap. Sheymov thought Rolph spoke Russian with an accent, although it didn’t necessarily seem to be an American one. Sheymov noticed that Rolph didn’t wear gloves—a Russian would. Physically, Rolph was coiled, thinking that any second the klieg lights would come on, the KGB officers would spring from the bushes, and he and Sheymov would be ambushed. Sheymov had taken a roundabout subway route to avoid surveillance, but he was also worried and tense. He knew more than Rolph did about how the KGB worked, that they used “floating” surveillance teams, which roamed the city and could appear randomly. He noted a nearby phone booth was empty; at least that was a good sign. Both men had been trained to carry out operations with a basic principle: once it begins, don’t think about it. Both knew that their business was to spend hours and hours planning, but in execution an operation would be brief and had to be flawless. The metaphor in Rolph’s mind was of an actor stepping on the stage: once the curtain came up, you just did your best to perform. Sheymov believed the worst thing an intelligence professional could do would be to give in to fear. That meant losing control. “You might be KGB,” Sheymov said to Rolph. “I can’t be attitude. On the street, the party’s grand declarations were etched into the concrete facades of Metro stations and factory gates, giant banners of self-congratulations. But to most Soviet citizens of the late 1970s, the promises of a bright communist future were long forgotten. These were the years of stagnation. The Soviet Union devoted such enormous resources to the arms race that its economy sputtered out only the most shoddy goods for consumers. Shortages were frequent and annoying. People waited in lines for hours to get shoes or a winter coat. Tolkachev’s high-rise apartment building at 1 Ploshchad Vosstaniya, one of Moscow’s seven distinctive, spired towers, had been constructed in 1955 with four high-ceilinged food shops at the street level, one on each corner for meat, fish, dairy, and bread. Modeled on an elegant turn-of-the-century Russian gastronome in Moscow, the four shops were resplendent with red-and-white inlaid marble, floor-to-ceiling windows, luminescent chandeliers, and mighty central columns. The goods had never been bountiful, but in the years after the shops were built it was possible to just walk in and find smoked fish and sausage. By 1979, the stores were in decay, the shelves nearly empty. Theoretically, the Soviet state provided for almost everything—medical care, schooling, transportation, work. But the system was rotting from within. The shortages forced many people to deal in a vast shadow economy, struggling to survive through friends and connections, always on the lookout for a tin of meat, some good tea, or a delivery of shoes

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 1978.60 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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