Inconspicuous: Walter Rothwell's Undercover Journey During the Cold War

Inconspicuous: Walter Rothwell's Undercover Journey During the Cold War

by Wes Choc


Publisher Chosen Journey Media

Published in Biographies & Memoirs/Professionals & Academics, Biographies & Memoirs/Historical, Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction

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Book Description


Drafted into the military the same month World War II ended might seem fortuitous, but because of Private Wally Rothwell's shrewd ability to speak four languages like a native, it enticed him into a world of strategic intelligence and espionage. He became a spy! This biography recounts his consequential role.

Sample Chapter

Walter Henry Rothwell Junior gasped his first breath amply blessed[1] with genetically embedded compasses that might eventually channel him ably-prepared, fine-tuned, and well-groomed in the footsteps of his theater-limelighted father and mother. That’s what everybody thought anyhow. That’s what the newspapers printed. That’s what Walter Junior actually believed true as he grasped first-words so he could think.

Such inevitabilities could have been true …if he had paid attention, that is.

There were distractions …like this new little boy crossing the Atlantic. But walking between shadows of two already so well-known could have been a steep mountain to climb anyway, especially with all that exceptional DNA so carefully emplaced. Yet these gifts never materialized how others might have foreseen.

There were myriad choices …like multiple languages.

Walter Rothwell Junior, or Wally as he became known, you see, would dance upon a different stage. He would memorize different scripts.

There were erratic happenstances …like World War II.

Still, he eventually played a part—a role without auditions or memorized lines, no tickets or applause—an important role bearing different encores. Despite disconcerting discoveries along the way, he achieved more on this stage than he ever might getting his name in lights.

Though consequential, he was inconspicuous.


As chance would have it, heritage was unconventional.

Among four grandparents, each spoke a foreign language (i.e., not English), traveled through multiple ports of call, crossed international borders, married, and lived where just one language, whatever it was, would never do. So, inside this familial cultural stew, it was a natural thing for his parents to inspire (permit?) environments where Wally learned there were no typical models to copy …he learned to think for himself early on.

Wally’s original playbook was translated and retranslated all depending on where breakfast happened to be served that morning.

Once lingual menus were synchronized, translations and verbal nuances, manufactured slang and multilingual puns were all common dinner fare—with the main course being whatever the dialect d’ jour happened to be.

Ever-changing buffets, Wally adapted to multi-scripted bills of fare.


But those shadowy hiding places Wally sought as a child? …those out of the way places he lived within as a youth? What about the shaded alleys he perused in the army after World War II as a young soldier …the dimly-lit grottoes he adeptly slithered through to gain evidence or innuendo or scrap of useful hearsay? Just what were these narrow and oh-so-private paths? It didn’t take long to learn camouflage or inconspicuousness—on stage or not.

It really boiled down to choices:

Thought? …which language was best used for thinking? …for acting? …for laughing? …for loving?

Secrecy? …who was in the same room listening? …who could be trusted?

Allegiance? …what chevrons would emblazon his sleeves? …which tattoos could be embedded onto his heart?

In the shadow of the rose, only one person knew for sure.

[1] Walter Henry Rothwell Jr. was born May 11, 1923, at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, California.


Excerpted from "Inconspicuous: Walter Rothwell's Undercover Journey During the Cold War" by Wes Choc. Copyright © 2015 by Wes Choc. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Wes Choc

Wes Choc

Wes Choc grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, living there until 1965 when he joined the Marine Corps. At the end of his military service in 1969, he worked for the American Automobile Association for over forty years. In 1992, he was appointed president and CEO of AAA MountainWest, overseeing business and club operations in Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. After retiring from AAA in 2008, he and his wife, Carol, moved to Arizona.

View full Profile of Wes Choc

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