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book 3 in the Blackford Oakes series
Abbot: "I'm telling you. Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third."; Costello: "Well, all I'm trying to find out is what's the guy's name on first base.'; Abbott: "Oh, no, no. What's on second base."; Costello "I'm not asking you who's on second."; Abbott: "Who's on first.";
We've all heard the old Abbott and Costello routine, but only master novelist William F. Buckley Jr. could ever have imagined in it the set-up for a gripping spy thriller. It's 1956 and the United States is locked in a do-or-die space race with the Russians. Who will get there first? Once more, it's up to supersecret agent Blackford Oakes to see that the good guys win. His assignment is to kidnap two Russian missile scientists who can help put the Americans in front for good. To succeed, he must dodge a lethal combination of murderous KGB agents and vengeful Hungarian freedom fighters - fresh from the bloody streets of Budapest - who mistake Oakes for their enemy. Who's on First was originally published in hardcover in 1980. Gobbled up by readers who had savoured Buckley's earlier Blackford Oakes thrillers, the novel also attracted plenty of attention from reviewers.