Supplementing this trove of KGB secrets with extensive research in other archives, published and unpublished, Christopher Andrew has written an extraordinary book which forces you to acknowledge that there was indeed an enemy - and that he was very much in our midst.
Revelations from The Sword and the Shield:
©1999 Christopher Andrew; (P) & ©2000 HighBridge Company
Perry Mason Fan
Vasili Mitrokhin was an archivist for the KGB. For several years, he reviewed files as they were moved to a new building. He began to secretly copy information from the files and take it home. Security was surprisingly lax and he became bold. Eventually, he had six crates of notes and quotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union, British intelligence exfiltrated him and his family in exchange for access to his files.
In this book, he names names. Hundreds of names. For instance, he names an employee of M.W. Kellogg in Houston, whom no one ever suspected of being a Soviet agent. He names key members of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.
But saying that he names names is understating the importance of this book.
Beginning in the 1930's and continuing into the late 1980's, he describes Soviet tradecraft and the work of master spys, cutouts, agents, and persons compromised. For instance, the provides the Soviet side of the recuiment and running of the Kim Phily Five, the Alger Hiss matter, the Rosenbergs, etc.
HE EVEN IDENTIFIES SASHA, a Soviet mole who did much damage (although the CIA's hunt for SASHA may have been even more damaging than Sasha's own work - and the skeptics amoung us question whether there was another Sasha).
If this were fiction, it would be a pretty good book. As non-fiction, it is a must read for anyone who wants to know what really happened in the cold war and how close we came to losing to the Soviets.
About 20% of the information in this book is incorporated into Robert Littel's novel, THE COMPANY.
Great narrator, great story, but for those folks who suggested The Company is the same kind of book, I disagree. This book is fact base and everything is real. The Company is fiction and all made up. My only regret is this audiobook is not unabridged.
In point of fact I think abridge book should be allowed unless the author himself cut it.
Well. Here's a revelation. The KGB and it's predecessors was an instrument of terror in the hands of paranoid tyrants. The good information that they produced that indicated that the U.S was not interested in empire buiiding was discarded and messengers shot. The survivors then, with new understanding, painted the U.S. and its allies as greedy power hungry hegemonists intent on invading mother Russia and received medals. All of this from the KGB's own archives through the bravery and dedication to truth of one minor file clerk, Vasily Mitroken. This is a first rate read for anyone who survived the Fifties.
There are few topics that would interest me more, but I was so disappointed. I got lost in a fog of details, names, and dates. It "reads" like an encyclopedia on the KGB, which is of interest as far as it goes.
But, I was hoping for great story telling. As a student of history, I have found that a good historical story tells more than a "reporter's" account of an event.
No doubt this is an important contribution to our understanding of the KGB. Its back to the cloak and dagger novels for me I suppose.
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