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Publisher's Summary

Previous histories have focused on the KGB, leaving military intelligence and the special service - which specialized in codes and ciphers - lurking in the shadows. Drawing on previously neglected Russian sources, Haslam reveals how both were in fact crucial to the survival of the Soviet state. This was especially true after Stalin's death in 1953, as the Cold War heated up and dedicated Communist agents the regime had relied upon - Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Donald Maclean - were betrayed.

In the wake of these failures, Khrushchev and his successors discarded ideological recruitment in favor of blackmail and bribery. The tactical turn was so successful that we can draw only one conclusion: the West ultimately triumphed despite, not because of, the espionage war. In bringing to light the obscure inhabitants of an undercover intelligence world, Haslam offers a surprising and unprecedented portrayal of Soviet success that is not only fascinating but also essential to understanding Vladimir Putin's power today.

©2015 Jonathan Haslam (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"For readers of Russian history, spy history, World War II, communication, and those interested in the KGB." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Horrendous performance, interesting material

The reader is beyond bad. There are no sentences, just clipped single words read in a machine like monotone. This makes it extremely difficult to absorb the meaning. Listen to the sammoke before purchasing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Terrible Narrator

He uses a variety of upspeak by emphasizing words having no relationship to the meaning of the text.
Very annoying

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narration not good

You have to be very familiar with Soviet Espionage History to keep up. His insights are some what esoteric. The narration of this book is very distracting.

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

Good book horrible narrator

The book was good and deep considering the dearth of sources regarding the topic. However, this narrator was horrible and robotic in his delivery. Struggling to pronounce Russian names and places, choppy and didn't flow well.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Horrid monotone audio. I hate giving bad reviews. The has no chance of being worse than this audio.

Argh blah blah blad very blad bad reader can not pronounce Russian names. Ouch

Bookhas to be better

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The narrator is a machine!

What would have made Near and Distant Neighbors better?

I feel ripped-off after buying this audio book. I didn't know that audible allowed this kind of machine readings

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Narration Makes This Book Hard Work

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The narration really got in the way of the story: choppy and disjointed. It combined the worst of Christopher Walken's phrasing with up-talk from a Valley girl. I think the narrator got paid extra to insert random pregnant pauses and commas throughout the text. I just couldn't finish the book because it was so difficult to listen to.

What could Jonathan Haslam have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I think the book was meant to be read silently to oneself, the phrasing and use of parenthetical asides hurt the ability of the narrator to tell the story in a compelling way.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Shaun Grindell?

Lots of British narrators would have done a good job, for example Frederick Davidson.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It's a very interesting story and I might buy the physical book but it is impossible for me to keep engaged in the audio book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful