• Deep Undercover

  • My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America
  • By: Jack Barsky, Cindy Coloma
  • Narrated by: Stephen Bowlby
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,741 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One decision can end everything...or lead to unlikely redemption.

Millions watched the CBS 60 Minutes special on Jack Barsky in 2015. Now, in this fascinating memoir, the Soviet KGB agent tells his story of gut-wrenching choices, appalling betrayals, his turbulent inner world, and the secret life he lived for years without getting caught.

On October 8, 1978, a Canadian national by the name of William Dyson stepped off a plane at O'Hare International Airport and proceeded toward customs and immigration.

Two days later, William Dyson ceased to exist.

The identity was a KGB forgery, used to get one of their own - a young, ambitious East German agent - into the United States.

The plan succeeded, and the spy's new identity was born: Jack Barsky. He would work undercover for the next decade, carrying out secret operations during the Cold War years - until a surprising shift in his allegiance challenged everything he thought he believed.

Deep Undercover reveals the secret life of this man without a country and tells the story no one ever expected him to tell.

©2017 Jack Barsky (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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What listeners say about Deep Undercover

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing

Loved it. The ending is so good. Definitely listen at 1.5x or 2x speed. Reader is way too slow.

12 people found this helpful

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interesting life story

The narrator was very good, and kept my attention throughout the book as he read.

The story itself, was intriguing. A man born in East Germany who became a KGB spy. He describes himself as self-sufficient, a fairly harsh and cold upbringing, and a casual way of looking at people throughout his lifetime.

The author, would like you to believe that he is now fully American. He even became a born-again Christian. Which is wonderful, if this is true. Like with all stories, especially Memoirs of this ilk I am more of a trust but verify type of person. I hope he is a Christian. I hope he has come to love America. But who knows truly but himself and even our government.

He tells of him coming over here in establishing his credentials. He went to school here even as he tried to keep a family and East Germany. The wall fell and he decided to stay here with his new family.

This is a good read, and I am sure there are many truth elements in there, but it makes me uneasy that if there is one there must be many more.

I do recommend this book.

6 people found this helpful

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good until end

i loved this book untill it came to the religious part. it felt like he was preaching the word of god instead of finishing a spy story.

5 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

Loved this true story. I couldn't stop listening. I definitely recommend you give this book a chance

5 people found this helpful

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Not as much detail as expected

I was hoping for a lot more adventure and descriptions of the KGB and his story of operations. This book was heavily focused on his personal life. Although interesting. I was really hoping for operations and adventure.
Still good.

3 people found this helpful

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I listened to this crap so you don't have to

Please save yourself hours of your life instead of wasting it on this. If you're looking for something thrilling (think The Americans, Homeland or The Bureau), this is absolutely not it. You won't even find any significant spy tradecraft. Long story short, nothing interesting happens. For all intents and purposes, it's the story of a KGB agent who infiltrates the USA (kinda) but achieves nothing. You've been warned.

11 people found this helpful

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Very interesting story, well read.

Fascinating story of a life lived in parallel time to my own, but completely different. Raised in East Germany after the War, this brilliant young boy finds a pathway to success in a most unusual way: by agreeing to be a spy. Lots of twists and turns. And a surprising ending.

3 people found this helpful

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Christian apologist

Ugh. I thought he was getting a little heavy handed with the religion in the beginning, so I googled the author. He's a Christian speaker. If you want a good spy novel, look elsewhere. If you want religion shoved down your throat, have a go at this one.

2 people found this helpful

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setup to be prostilitized

beginning and middle of the book are good. the end is very unrelated and preechy.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

A very fascinating inspiring story and well done audio book. Couldn't stop listening. Loved it!

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Alexander Brown
  • Alexander Brown
  • 07-25-21

Absolute drivel! Do NOT waste your money / credits

I don’t normally bother with negative reviews, leaning on the adage that if you can’t say something good say nothing at all and hope the lack of positive comments will steer others clear. But, in this case, I can’t help myself.

I’m a bit of a cold war buff, both factual and fictional. In recent years I’ve really enjoyed some intellectual properties that show the Soviets in a light not demanded by Reagan’s ultra-conservative 80’s America – The Americans, Comrade Detective and the Xbox videogame series Metro (based on the novels of Dmitry Glukhovsky) are all firm favourites of mine, so on paper this should have been right up my street. It was not.

The early chapters on the author’s childhood in the DDR (or GDR, if you don’t have even the simplest understanding of the German language) are the most interesting offering a genuine look at a young life behind the iron curtain, but even these feel somewhat airbrushed by relatively privileged life “Jack” leads: It’s hard to have much sympathy for the son of a respected headmaster in good party standing who can afford cars and family holidays as the rest of the country was collapsing all around them. From then on, pretty. Everything seems to fall right into his lap, with his academic career amounting to “I did this, I did that, I did the other and found myself at the top of every class I ever took without really trying”.

The “tangled allegiances” of the title are absent. As soon as “Jack” crosses to the west and realises there’s enough food to go around and the clothes are nicer, he shrugs off the beliefs that were supposed to be iron-clad without a tip of the hat or a “Fare ye well, comrades!” Going to work for an American health-insurance company – pretty much the least socialist enterprise on the planet – is mentioned only remarked on in the context of a KGB agent working for a fortune 500 company being ironic. The fall of the Berlin wall only gets two or three sentences from someone who spent his young life in its metaphorical shadow.

There never seems to be any real danger, either from US or soviet agents. He was smuggled into the US, got a minimum-wage job while he went to a city college, got a degree and went to work for a big company where he rose through the ranks. No strangling people with piano-wire, no microfilms exchanged at the statue of Liberty no “shaken, not stirred”. I’m also tempted to call “Jack” out on something: He tells the KGB that he’s dying of AIDS, so he can’t ever come home. He doesn’t bother to stage a funeral, or even stop using the same name and bank accounts, yet we’re supposed to believe that the KGB he fears so deeply wouldn’t make enquiries about the unsubstantiated death of someone they invested such significant time and resources in? It genuinely seems beyond belief.

The absolute worst is saved for the Deus Ex Machina ending. His road to Damascus moment on a golf-course, suddenly thinking “Hey, the air seems a bit buzzy today… Maybe that Jesus guy was right about everything, I should change my entire life!” is just the pinnacle of cringe. I’m sure it was 100% genuine and had nothing to with the attractive subordinate 20+ years his junior whose pants he was trying to get in to. The total hypocrisy of abandoning his first family to probable interrogation by the notoriously brutal Stassi and KGB just because he could connect better with the daughter he’d been living rather than the son he saw for a week every two years, is despicable.

If you want fictional excitement and intrigue, try Jon le Carre. If you want factual accounts of espionage and the cold war, go for Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes, or David Morris’ Wilderness of Mirrors, or anything by Anne Applebaum about live behind the iron curtain. Just avoid this hogwash like your braincells depend on it.

6 people found this helpful

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  • RJ Storey
  • 08-17-21

until the end

it was good until the bible bashing started. I couldn't finish, pity I was enjoying it. it just became too much.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-19-21

Just don’t waste your time.

I just feel sorry for Stephen Bowlby for being have to read all this 🤦‍♂️ story is not good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joanne Brown
  • 09-10-20

Factual and human

This honest retelling of a man's journey out of the GDR and into the American dream is fascinating. There is little to no political bias and if opinion is given, it is well labelled as such. I felt the book hit a low point in the last few chapters after the author received his religious revelation and then went on to lecture the reader on how loving Jesus is the only way. Could have done without that.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vanessa Bird
  • 08-04-22

One great book mixed with a shorter religious book

OK so I was enjoying this book, right up until almost the end. That’s when it started to change. Plot spoiler coming up!

I followed this right until he decides to bail on the KGB and trick them into thinking he died of AIDS. Apparently the KGB gave his first wife his life savings and tells her he died. He didn’t. He was living with wife number 2z By the way he commits bigamy as he married Penelope in America exile still married to his German wife… but I digress.

Remarkably the KGB didn’t get anyone to follow up on him or check he had died. Why? Surely they’d send someone to dispose of his stuff?

He divorces wife number 2.
Again let’s remember he faked his death so legally is still married anyway to wife 1.

Then… then came the weird second book shoddily inserted almost as an afterthought right near the end.

Now I’m all for religion, but the sudden change of topic and style of writing made it seem as if I clicked on a different audiobook by mistake. Fine: be religious. What I found distasteful was he interviews a girl Young enough to be his daughter fancied her so gave her a job… eventually making her his third wife and marrying her. He is now religious yet has forgotten he is still married to wife number 1 in Germany as he faked his own death?? Not that much of a convert then.

So now this great spy turns out to be a typical dirty old man who marries a young girl and commits bigamy again. Now all the spy stuff is ruined as this new second religious book erases most of the hard work of the main book

Get it, listen to it and then the moment it switches to the religious book stop.

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  • max
  • 05-04-22

not much spy details

I'm sure he could have disclosed some secret between US and Russia which are no longer a threat to both, instead it is just a life story book.

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  • peter
  • 04-30-22

Interesting story

I really enjoyed the audio book.
You normally expect to hear of the daring do or die exploits of spying.
This book covers every domestic turmoil a person invoked in espionage could encounter without telling you about spy work.
Either there’s another book with the the spy stories coming out or he was the epitome of a sleeper.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dr Geoff Allbright
  • 04-10-22

Interesting to start with, but…..

An interesting listen, with a fascinating insight into east/west spying tactics. It lost its way towards the last couple of chapters with a lot of religious references and focus. Not exactly what I expected, but an enjoyable listen overall.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-13-22

Best free book yet

Only half way through but so far but I’ve done that in one sitting. Great story and excellent narration

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rusty
  • 12-19-21

loved this story

loved this book. An outstanding story told in a very relatable way. Enjoyed all of it

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  • Andrew Tye
  • 08-08-22

Great story - until..

It would be a 5-star rating for story but for the jarring left turn into religious rhetoric nearing the end. It didn't add to the story and left a sour taste for those not wanting to be exposed to that side of an otherwise fantastic story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-30-22

Inspired

God has the all powerful ability to show us how He is in control and change our hearts. This book shows that through the life of a KGB spy. Deeply moving.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-20-22

A Book About Self Esteem

I struggled with it near the end. Pretty egotistical and loved himself too much

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-25-22

Don't expect any action


Mildly interesting to start, but degenerates into a boring monologue of soppy self indulgence.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bronwyn mary hendry
  • 12-10-20

interesting story, a bit heavy on the preaching

the story is very interesting. it is nice to get an insight into an aspect of history that you otherwise might not have the opportunity to hear about. it slowly becomes filled with preaching about Christianity which could be pretty nauseating for some people.

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  • Adam Lethlean
  • 01-12-19

Fantastic read.

An amazing life well detailed with insight into an unimaginable lifestyle. Thanks for coming clean and getting your story out.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-13-18

Thrilling

Excellent story of failure of the Soviet Union and Communism told with the action packed narritive of an under cover spy.