1981: Ronald Reagan’s inauguration marks a new escalation in the United States’ Cold War with the USSR. Months later, François Mitterrand is elected president of France with the support of the French Communist Party. The predicted tension between these two men, however, is immediately defused when Mitterrand gives Reagan the Farewell dossier, a file he would later call "one of the greatest spy cases of the 20th century".
Vladimir Ippolitovich Vetrov, a promising technical student, joins the KGB to work as a spy. Following a couple of murky incidents, however, Vetrov is removed from the field and placed at a desk as an analyst. Soon, burdened by a troubled marriage and frustrated at a failing career, Vetrov turns to alcohol. Desperate and in need of redemption, in 1980 he offers his services to the DST, the French counterintelligence service. Thus Agent Farewell is born. Soon he is sneaking files and photographing sensitive documents, keeping the West informed of the USSR’s plans - right in the heart of KGB headquarters.
The most complete account of these dramatic events ever recorded, Kostin and Raynaud’s thorough investigation is a fascinating tour de force. Probing further into Vetrov’s psychological profile than ever before, they provide groundbreaking insight into the man whose life helped hasten the end of the Cold War.
©2009 Editions Robert Laffont, S.A., Paris; translation copyright 2011, Amazon Content Services LLC (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Say something about yourself!
All espionage geeks will love this and foreign policy wonks will have to acknowledge the indispensable role played by the espionage services. For every intelligence fiasco there is a 'Farewell" and we should all be grateful for the latter and forgive the former.
The lesson that I thought was most interesting is that this only succeeded because the French handlers DIDN'T use spy craft, which the KGB would certainly have noticed. Really good book but extremely detailed and, thus, long. But if you're interested in the craft (or lack thereof) and the psychology of treason this is the book for you.
The fact that history often hinges on the acts of unknown individuals unrelated to the "leaders" strutting their stuff on history's stage is an irony that is inescapable. This true story is the proof. Great listen.
I started reading the book and enjoyed it so much that I thought buying the audio version would be a good idea so I could listen in the car. Wrong! The narrator has a monotone voice and almost sounds like a robot. I tried listening to it for about a week but the narrator was so unbearable that I just went back to reading.
With all the Spies of the 20th century, why had I never heard of "Farewell". Reading the story I found out why he was really a no-body His story lacks many things - suspense, the use sophisticated technology or techniques, life threatening intrigue, and a sense that this spy could have changed the balance of world power with secrets being traded. It does tell in interesting story about a spy who's affair with a woman went wrong and how he eventually dealt with it (her). The back story looks at international relationships in the world of espionage, and give the reader a picture of how uninteresting it was to be a spy in Russia during that time. When you finish you will not feel a sense of relief that our nation can rest easy now that this spy was caught.
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