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Farewell

The Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century
Narrated by: Arthur Morey
Length: 15 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Politics
4 out of 5 stars (222 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • DS
  • 12-28-12

ESPIONAGE GEEKS TAKE NOTICE

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Top Knotch Documentary True Spy Thriller

What did you love best about Farewell?

Incredible detail and history of the spy culture between the KGB and French Intel that became the essential ingredient which brought down the USSR. Do not miss this!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. Too much to process in one sitting.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jayne
  • CARMICHAEL, CA, United States
  • 06-26-15

Interesting but reads like a documentary

The main character, Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB spy betrays his country, his wife, and himself. According to the author, Vetrov actually did a lot for the US supposedly helping Reagan end the cold war. However, I did not find it to be exciting tales of espionage. The story
is a soap opera of sultry characters who have lost the meaning of life - striving for position, status and wealth.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Real spy tradecraft is as odd as fictional

Farewell is the code name of one of the most important spy stories of the 20th century. A Russian KGB agent, frustrated with his treatment by the KGB, turned over thousands of pages of documents to the French secret service (the FBI equivalent, not the CIA equivalent) and was perhaps more responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union than any other single person.

The story really is both incredible and fairly simple. Vladimir Ippolitovitch Vetrov, a talented athlete, a good student and a handsome young man is recruited to the KGB. He is trained as a foreign operative and serves two terms outside of Russia. But because of some of the problems of the KGB and some of Vetrov’s own problems he gets called back to Moscow and ends up as a technical analyst.

Frustrated by his lack of importance and the lack of respect he feels he is getting, he decides to become an informant and contact the French DST. Working with a French secret service he is first given a handler (a businessman that is close, but not a spy) and then a single agent. But it may have been the very lack of tradecraft that allows Vetrov to sneak out hugely important technical details of the Soviet infrastructure, military and spy systems.

This information was then used by Reagan and his security team to double down on the USSR. The US both increased our military expenditure (to try and force the USSR into spending more than it was capable of spending to keep up) and fed bad information to the USSR on areas that the US knew were research dead ends.

It is a fascinating story, but not the best written one. Farewell was originally written in French and then translated and updated into English. The translation I think is probably pretty good, but like a real spy story it is big on details and angles and short on action. So nearly half of the book is focused on Vetrov history, his relationship with his wife, his mistress, his son, and his early work experience. And then right about half way through the book, finally the main action occurs and the rest of the book is spent dissecting what happened and why.

Part of me really is fascinated by the story and the almost excruciating detail. But the other half of me just wanted them to get to the conclusion and be done. I think it showed lots of the problems of the Russian system (both the KGB and the Russian system of government that encouraged the paranoia and mistrust.) But also it showed the problems of spying in general. It is the paradox of the spy world that the agencies have to trust their spies because they literally cannot completely police the spies to make sure that they are not turning sides.

It is also interesting to see that what was important in the end was not the military strength or the spy tradecraft, but the research and economic issues. (It feels like a similar story to Al Capone, it was the accounting that brought Capone down.)

This is a story that I recommend with some strong caveats. It feels long and overly detailed because it is long and overly detailed. It is not a great book, but it is interesting.

(originally posted on my blog, Bookwi.se)

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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KGB Spy Helps Take Down Soviet Union

Great documentary and analysis of a Russian agent who fed secrets to the west during the early 1980s. His actions along with the political and economic climate at the time helped the US and its allies win the Cold War.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An interesting story told in great detail, with t

Title should read "An interesting story told in great detail...too much detail unless you are a serious spy aficiondo." Audible's software won't allow me to edit the title.
Now my review:
I bought this based on the description and because I love history. It was a mixed bag. Overall, it was a solid three stars, but I wouldn't listen to it again.
Because the story is presented chronologically, I was a fair ways into it before I had more than a superficial idea of what the protagonist had done, and why the reader might care. The last two fifths of the book are the most compelling, but you have to wade through plenty of less interesting chapters to get there. Something unexpected and thought-provoking is woven thoughout the story, however - a look inside intelligence agencies, and the particular culture of Russian spy operations. Of course this is essential to understanding what happened, and for this listener, it kept me from abandoning the book during some of the slowest chapters.
I found the nomenclature confusing. The authors refer to the spy by both his given name and his surname. This is a problem because the Russian names are not familiar to most western readers, and as there is more than one character with the same first name, I had to spend some figuring out who was who, an effort that pulls the listener out of the narrative.
The work is clearly well researched, and much of the detail is laid out in the text. Ironically, that is one reason for my three star rating. When you read (or listen to in this case) a book with a great deal of admittedly relevant detail that does not grab the reader's attention, it can be a slog - which is how I felt all too often.
Perhaps I was not the right reader for this work. Someone who relishes spy stories would probably give this four or five stars.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • lgh
  • East Tennessee
  • 04-28-18

interesting story

Interesting story. Found the back and forth in time distracting, but not so much that it turned me off.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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What a Story!

What did you love best about Farewell?

I was amazed at how this spy pulled off such a long term operation and the affects on the US, Russia, and Europe.

Have you listened to any of Arthur Morey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This was my first Arthur Morey performance but surely not the last.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This is a LONG book, so no way you will be able to listen in one sitting. It did get a little tedious because of the length.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great history of the spies industry in the 80

A great book about a man who changed history and was a part of ending the cold war.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting read

This book is interesting and informative for what it is. The manifold questions and uncertain areas of the narrative are treated exceptional well by the author. Competing hypotheses and conjectures are laid out well and leave no uncertainty in the reader about the uncertainty of the points being made. I would like to have had more in depth analysis on geopolitical ramifications of the information leak. The author focuses on the affair itself and the actors involved, leaving as secondary the before and after analysis of the global scene. That was the authors choice and the book reflects that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jeffrey
  • 02-09-13

Not Sure

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful