I thought this book was a very quick and entertaining read. In that sense, I enjoyed it.
But as someone who has read dozens of non-fiction books about the history of Cold War espionage, I was disappointed by the lack of significant “revelations” and/or new “specifics” in this book. In chapter-after-chapter, Kondrashev’s stories are suffused with inconsequential details that make it clear he was present at, or otherwise involved in, an impressive number of critical moments in KGB history. And some of those little details are vaguely intriguing. But when these same stories start to approach truly interesting details (like the names or identifying details of specific, previously unrevealed spies, or the actual motivations of famous spies with whom Kondrashev had worked, or the unique tradecraft they employed) the stories are either ended abruptly by the author or are allowed to drift away toward other inconsequential details. As a result, as a reader I felt “teased” (and ultimately unsatisfied) when I finished reading a number of the chapters in this book. The afterward suggests that this reflects the studied discretion (derived from lifelong “loyalty”) of the aging soviet spymaster who told these self-censored tales to the author.