About the Book

American Sons_The Falcon and the Snowman_Christopher BoyceAmerican Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman is the true story of how convicted spies Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee survived decades in prison to emerge free men. Written by Christopher Boyce, Cait Boyce and Vince Font, the book provides an often harrowing, deeply personal look into life behind bars in some of the most formidable federal prisons in the United States – and documents the long road to freedom for two of the country’s most notorious Cold War-era spies.

American Sons is a book that depicts the struggles and regrets of two men whose crimes cost them decades in prison, and the efforts of one woman whose dedication and determination helped put them on the path to redemption. It also marks the first time that Christopher Boyce has spoken publicly and in-depth about his experiences in prison, the details of his 1980 escape from Lompoc Federal Penitentiary, and his life after release. The book is available now in paperback and e-book format.

35 thoughts on “About the Book

  1. I was living in Santa Cruz when they made the film. John Moran who worked on the film is a good friend. If you want his email,, let me know. Rex

    • Mr. O’Connell ‘should of’ (sic) read this book to learn that more recently, two older men, professionals from CIA, did most the same thing as Chris and his co-defendant, but were sentenced to ludicrous-length imprisonment if compared to these two ex-young men’s.
      BTW I really enjoyed this book both in terms of content (legal matters, friendship and inner feelings being the most important to me) and structure, much like a 3-story lines unfolding almost simultaneously, often switching from past to present. Very well done! It’s one of the books which took me the shortest time to read, so interesting and ‘captivating’ (if I may say so) it was always hard to stop reading when I had to.
      It would make a very good film…
      Best of luck to all of you and your families.

  2. Mr.O’Connell

    We allow all comments to be published because, good or bad, i think we learn from them. One thing I would like to point out in your comment is the fact that you cannot execute someone for treason if they were not tried and convicted on those terms.

    The indictments against Boyce and Lee back in 1977 were for violations of the espionage act and acting as an unregistered agents for a foreign government. There were no indictments for treason against either man at any time.

    Treason indictments are handed down for aiding and comforting an enemy government during a time of war. In 1977, the US was not engaged in a war and Russia was no longer considered an enemy government.

    So, while it is a little heart-wrenching as a wife to hear that you wished my husband put to death, it is some comfort to know that you sought out this webbage, read the blog and took the time to make a comment.

    Sometimes changing an attitude starts so small as to hardly be noticed…

    My best to you,

    Cait Boyce

      • There is no better road than the high road. You can see everything from there. Nicely done Cait.

    • Love your reply Cait. You even refrained from correcting his grammar from “should of” to “should have.” I just hate it when stupid people thing they know everything. I like to think I’m just smart enough to know I don’t know squat.
      Looking forward to the book :)

    • Well said; I agree… Folks are carried away too easily and far too frequently. Too often that is so from ignorance or pre-judging. Well, I am among those glad — relieved and grateful, even — that your lives have reached where they are now from where you first “met up.” Thank you to the main three: Cait Boyce; Christopher John Boyce; and Vince.

  3. Dear TJ –

    No, I am not fine with that fact any more than Chris is fine with it. What was done cannot be undone, but the mere fact that he was an idealistic 22 year old helps me understand a bit more about why it happened.

    I also know that being human allows me to forgive those wrongs that I know have been atoned for…

    Cait Boyce

  4. Cait,
    I think he and Daulton got what they deserved. That said, it looks like both of them are staying out of trouble and leading productive lives and that should be the ultimate goal of imprisonment.
    I don’t buy that his motivations were purely ideological. I believe idealogy was mixed with resentment toward conservative ideals (especially with his father) and getting a rush off pulling the wool over the CIA’s eyes. Daulton’s motivations were purely greed-driven, to expand his drug dealing business, which is disgusting. Remember that these two sold thousands of highly sensitive classified documents including codes, ciphers, performance sheets, top secret pyramider satellite info, Rhyolite and Argus program info and ground resolution studies. According to the government, they caused extreme damage to our national security. They took the protest too far and paid the price. You can’t put every man, woman and child in danger and be called a true patriot. However, I don’t like to judge and have made my fair share of mistakes in my youth. I hope they are doing well as both are talented and intelligent in their respective lives. Good luck to you, Chris, and Daulton and congrats on your legal work.

    • John,

      Thanks for your response but there is one thing I’d like to get on the record.

      The documents that were sold to the Russians did not jeopardize any national security not did it divulge and “secret” information that could have cost American lives.

      The CIA, at the time of the trial, moved a huge safe into Kenny Kahn’s office. The safe held the original Pyramider documents which were used for trial. Each morning they would arrive at the office, retrieve the documents and then place them in a steel briefcase which was secured to an agent’s wrist.

      When the trials were over and the guilty verdicts rendered, the CIA came back to retrieve the safe.

      The Pyramider documents, top secret and valuable enough to cost two men their lives in prison, were left behind on thenfloor of the office…

      I ended up with the original documents and crypto cards years later and called both the FBI and the CIA – who simply couldn’t be bothered to retrieve them.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is this – because my government wants me to think these documents were highly sensitive just doesn’t make it reality…


  5. The South Bay was a whole different world then. Our friend Robin paid the ultimate price. Some of us escaped and some didn’t . The post Nixon feelings drove us. The government sucked,,, still does!!!

  6. Cait,
    I appreciate your response. I totally agree with you that the government does overclassify tons of documents. However, don’t you agree that some documents need to be classified to protect the country from harm? It was the height of the Cold War when this case happened. You can’t just hand out spy satellite info related to the defense of our country. We need to balance transparency with national security and that isn’t easy. Lastly, in this case I think the judge was a little too harsh. Personally I think 20-25 years is enough time. Perhaps our political perspective is different. I would call myself a moderate Republican, although I don’t think there are many of us left.
    Thanks again for your intelligent response and info on the Pyramider/Ciphers.

  7. I appreciate the agreeable discourse on this topic. I think it’s important to mention that the book “The Falcon and The Snowman: American Sons” is not an attempt by anyone involved to absolve Chris or Daulton of their crime. I have come to know Christopher Boyce very well and on numerous occasions he has said to me (words to the effect of): “I committed espionage. I deserved to go to prison.” The book isn’t a political book. It’s a book that goes into great detail about the consequences both men faced for their actions, and how that changed their lives – and the lives of their families – forever. I think anyone who reads the book will be able to appreciate that.

    • Thanks Vince and thanks to everyone who takes the time to comment.

      Chris has been very honest about the fact that what he did was wrong. He did his time, as did Daulton and both men deserved to be free. When I took these cases it stopped being about documents and Russians and spies and it began being about retribution, change and humanity. I saw those changes in both Chris and Daulton.

      I believe that The Falcon and The Snowman: American Sons will show people that rehabilitation can happen – that people can change for the better and become active and productive members of society. But it can also go a long way to help all of us become a bit more human and empathetic towards people in prison.

      I certainly know that criminals belong in prison – but I also know firsthand that people can change…

  8. Cait,
    I agree……We shouldn’t define Chris and Daulton’s whole life by one terrible decision….Can’t wait to read about how you got these men out on parole…..I know just getting an appeal is very difficult in the courts…Good luck!

  9. To Cait, Vince (and maybe even Chris too)–
    I am a 56 year old lawyer who grew up in Palos Verdes, was from a large Catholic family, and had a father with similar conservative values to Chris’s. I too, went to Catholic school, like Chris did, and then went to one of the 3 public high schools. I became familiar with Chris and Daulton’s story as a college student. I devoured the Falcon and the Snowman as soon as I could get my hands on the book. Ditto the Flight of the Falcon, which I read while in law school. I followed every article ever written about Chris. His story has always mesmerized me from the moment I became aware of it.

    I was never interested in the story because of some renegade personality. I have also never had an interest in birds (though I must confess that I have been intrigued by falcons since reading the Falcon and the Snowman). I think the part of the story that always resonated with me was that it happened in my backyard so to speak, at TRW, where so many PV residents were employed (we all knew someone, even several, that had engineering type jobs over that way). Add to the story that Chris was a Catholic boy, an alter boy, from a large family, with conservative values, and I have always felt like I have known this person. He could be my brother. My friend. I had followed a largely identical path in my own life, though attending different schools, and at different times.

    Chris’s story has always been a huge part of my own life. In some strange way it has partly shaped who I am. I have always carried the story with me, looking back on it from time to time. Chris’s story made an enormous impression on me as I was transitioning from teenager to young man, from PV kid to college student, from college student to law student, and then to young lawyer. Even after he disappeared from the news in the 80’s, I never forgot about him and wondered what it must be like to be stuck in some hole to live out your days. The only way I could reconcile it and let go of the subject was to resolve that were I in his shoes, I would rather be dead. Death would be a release to the fate of being caged like a wild beast for 40 years.

    Looking back now, the most intriguing element of the story, the reason why it has always resonated with me so, is that one cannot help but get the sense that Chris is not a bad person. He was never a bad person. He is not evil. I just knew that intuitively from the inception of hearing about his arrest, even without knowing him. Maybe it is the PV connection, but I just knew, even back in 1977, Chris did not have any evil in him, and never did. He just made a stupid choice. He took one bad step, and then another, and even if he tried to correct those 2 bad steps, it was too late, and he was lost. And what 22 year old doesn’t do stupid things? Lots of us don’t get caught. We get lucky. Granted most of us don’t sell secrets to Soviets, but who gets a top secret clearance at 22 (have to say, the US was, at least to some extent, culpable in all of this, for putting an impressionable young man in the position to be exposed to such things, as was his father–they all should have known better, and it was a series of material errors in judgment that led to this cascade of events)? In any event, most of us don’t have to go to prison for 40 years as a penalty for being stupid at age 22.

    I could never reconcile the sentences Chris and Daulton received. It was literally beyond my comprehension. Absurd. It begs the question–just what is the point of incarceration? It seems so incredibly cruel. I would often wonder about how Chris was holding up over the years in his living hell…

    I am delighted Chris and Daulton are free. I am equally delighted they are free and not returning to a life of crime. Chris seems truly “rehabilitated” (though I sort of don’t like that word). I saw a wonderful YouTube video a few days ago about Chris and an Arctic falcon.

    I am very happy for Chris. Envious that Cait could contribute to his freedom using the legal system. Happy you are together. The world needs more stories with happy endings.

    So there it is. I think I wanted to be able to reach out to Christopher Boyce for about 35 years, and I finally did it. I think it was some of the negative comments that were posted here that finally sent me over the edge to reach out. In reading back over what I have just written, I am not really sure you all will care much about my thoughts and observations as they are not particularly important. But for whatever it is worth, I have always wished Chris well. Maybe there really is such a thing as the power of positive energy.

    • Tim, you’ve articulated so clearly,what many of us thought over the years. Where was Chris, how was he doing? I became aware of Chris in 1984, and trying to find info in the pre-internet years in Australia was difficult . I even went to the extent of going to the US Embassy library haha. I was one of many who took to the streets in Nov, 1975, protesting in Sydney the day of PM Whitlam’s coup with an overwhelming sense of moral outrage. Ironically, as an ex-Catholic, the bastards schooled me too well in right and wrong. By that stage I’d been a nurse and a social worker, and knew a bit about injustice.
      I’ ve just finished the book in almost one go, and went to my archives and dug out all the research I did going back to the 80s. I found the card with pictures of Australian birds on it, dated February,17 1989. I sent it to Chris but it was returned because he had already left Matrion. I didn’t know where he was. All I could do was send positive affirmations from time to time, re-read the books, look at the movies, play the sound track over and over.
      I always remembered Chris on his birthday. Let’s say, I was consumed. I didn’t have a clue where he was, my research came to a dead end. All I could do was dig into the Australian end of the story. A close friend of the family was working as a stenographer at Pine Gap during the time Chris was at TRW. when I met up with her on a rare visit in sometime in 1972-3, all she could talk about was the partying, cleverly avoiding the work she did.
      In my search through indep news, I, found a CIA top guy had visited Australia just before the coup in order to scope out trade unions, and visited a high profile person’s home. I was shocked who that person was.
      .When I found out Chris was finally released i was so relieved, My constant googling threw up what I needed to know. Seeing him on CNN yesterday, was like a reunion with an old friend. Finally, I felt I could reach out and be connected. I won’t go into my reactions to the book, (I’ll do a review for Amazon later,) except I felt I’d always been told the tale by a Rosenkrantz and Gildenstern, and now finally the story from Hamlet. himself. So much of the missing puzzles, and yet, i still have questions. Time enough for that later.
      I’m going to trawl through my research once more . I’ve already dug up something quite ironic. I have a habit of recording my dreams and I did with those with Chris in it. One of them on 6/19/89 -was of ‘Chris’s mother’ who
      said ‘Here’s your girlfriend she’s to take over now’. 6/24/90- A woman talking to others,’ says there’s a good chance Chris will be released’.
      I do believe there were many people around the world, who were thinking about Chris during those dark days and I hope enough positive energy, in the shape of a red- haired dynamo! got to reach Chris.
      As we think of Bradlley Manning, and how he looks so young, and somehow we know how he got there. And Australia, despite a successful recession- proof reformist Labor Govt, was decimated yesterday under the power of a 70% media owned Rupert Murdochracy who got his boy into power-a far right Catholic mysoginist intent on revenge. Australia to me now, is enemy territory.The fight goes on.
      I hope that we get to see more of Chris’s brilliant mind working in literary efforts, blogs and youtube clips. He’s reaching out to all of us- like Somebody We Used To Know.
      Peace too.

    • Tim,

      Your thoughts and observations are incredibly important to me, to Chris and to Vince. It is the power of one, single person that can make all the difference in someone’s life. Often, when I was working with Daulton and Chris, I would stop short and wonder just what one person could really do to instigate change. More times than not, I cried myself to sleep due to the frustration and anger that built over the days, the months, the years… I am not good at failure – never sure what the proper reaction is supposed to be when we fail. So I kept on marching forward.

      In 2002, watching Chris walk up the ramp towards me at the airport, a free man, was overwhelming. To this day I remember the look on his face. When I think back on all the frustration and failure, I know that it hardly matters anymore because Chris and Daulton are free. I would not have traded any of it.

      Your support and well wishes mean everything to us.

      Cait Boyce

      • Thank you Cait! I just discovered today that you responded to me 2 years ago. I am flattered you would even take the time. Regards.

    • I am 2 years late, but I could not written a post any better myself about Chris,your life and mine. Your feelings mirror mine.

  10. Simply awesome to see the strength and perseverance of one man and one woman. Two people on their journey to figure out not what was right or what was wrong but who they were and have become together. I have always been fascinated by this story and have followed it throughout my life. I too am familiar with surviving the bowels of humanity that is prison. The written word is what saved me. Regardless of my politics or opinions I am glad to see he made it and you with him Cait. You are both strength to more people than you will ever know. I look very forward to the book. – Stephen

  11. Boyce committed espionage, escaped from prison, robbed banks with a gun while on the run and only served 26 years in prison (including 19 months on the run). Plus he developed an elaborate plan to break his co-Defendant out of prison by helicopter. He seems to me to be someone who should still be in prison.

  12. Odd. Disenchanted with our own flawed system, which nevertheless permits the greatest freedoms known to mankind, the two folks here ran straight to the ams of that great humanitarian government, Russia. Odd, given a choice of countries for deportation, Ameica was chosen over Russia. Very shallow ideology. Probably all about the money. And, ma’am, you will never know what harm was done by your husband. I do not believe other persons or entities carelessness justifies your husbands exploitation. He earned hus long pison sentence and is no hero.

  13. I’ve often wondered what Chris made of the film and music created about his story. It must be hard to see yourself through a production that is not, of course, your actual life. The facts might be generally accurate… but the mood or tone might not. Just a thought. The net catches so few fish … and so many of us mis-spent our youth. Best to all of you.

    James Fairs

  14. I saw the movie when I was 14. When did Chris and Andrew actually see the film? Were they allowed a special screening in prison? Did they serve as consultants for the movie, or receive any royalties for their stories? How does the film differ from the actual events that led to their arrests?
    Do you believe they would have been caught if Daulton had not been arrested in Mexico for murder?

  15. Dr. Van Dyke:

    Questions, we get questions! okay, here are some answers:

    When did Chris and Andrew actually see the film?
    A. Timothy Hutton showed Chris the film while Chris was at Marion USP. Daulton chose not to see the film.

    A. Were they allowed a special screening in prison? See above answer.

    Did they serve as consultants for the movie, or receive any royalties for their stories?
    A. Chris worked on the screenplay with Steve Zaillian, Daulton and Chris both spoke via telephone or the occasional prison visit with both Hutton and Penn. Chris refused to take any money from the movie or from the books. Daulton took money…

    How does the film differ from the actual events that led to their arrests?
    A. While Daulton was arrested in Mexico and suffered some fairly horrid abuse at the hands of the Mexican Federales, Chris was not arrested in some romantic, wide open field flying his falcon. In fact, he was arrested in Riverside County at a turkey ranch. If anything, I believe that the torture of Daulton Lee was downplayed in the movie and in the book.

    Do you believe they would have been caught if Daulton had not been arrested in Mexico for murder?
    A. My personal opinion? Yes, they would have been caught and it was only a matter of time. Daulton’s drug use had gone from wild to wild and he was out of control. Chris was living with guilt beyond anything that he could ever have imagined. Knowing Chris, he probably would have come forward and turned himself in.

    Hope this answers some of the questions!


  16. Excellent Cait! I did not know the answers to those questions, but I guessed they would have been eventually caught too. Given what they were doing, given the lack of sophistication, there was probably a sufficient enough evidentiary trail, coupled with a desire by the government to catch up with this sort of crime, that it always had the look and feel of inevitability that they would be caught at some point. It just stands to reason

  17. I read the book. Excellent recounting of a time I too lived through. Interestlngly enough my brother also worked for TRW a few months after Chris

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