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Publisher's Summary

This book reveals the most complete picture ever of the KGB and its operations in the United States and Europe. It is based on an extremely top secret archive, which details the full extent of its worldwide network.

Christopher Andrew is professor of modern and contemporary history and chair of the history department at Cambridge University, a former visiting professor of national security at Harvard, a frequent guest lecturer at other United States universities, and a regular host of BBC radio and TV programs. His books - which include Her Majesty’s Secret Service; KGB: The Inside Story (with Oleg Gordievsky); and For the President’s Eyes Only - have established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on intelligence history.

©1985 Christopher Andrew and Vasilli Mitrokhin (P)1999 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A sweeping, densely documented history…Thanks to Comrade Mitrokhin, the KGB and most who spied for it have been stripped naked.”  ( New York Times Book Review)
The Sword and the Shield will stand as an indispensable reference work on Soviet espionage for years to come.” ( Washington Post)
“Whitfield’s [narration]…is certainly appropriate for this presentation.”  (Kliatt)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Clydene
  • San Diego, California
  • 05-28-12

Great book on the history of the KGB

Dreams come true.

Never thought this book would make it to Audible, The subtitle -The Mitrokhin Archive And The Secret History Of The KGB really describes the book that took Mitrokhin 18 yesrs to compile in the about the KGB and clearly it was his obsession. Many consider the Mitrokhin Archive to be the Bible of the Cold War from the KGB side and clearly it has tremendous historical importance as one of the main books of this age.

It should not be only book or even the first book you read, but it will be the one you keep and refer back to again and again. This book will give you a very detailed glance into the inner workings of the KGB -Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti 0 Committee for State Security. The importance of this book from a historical perspective cannot be lost of the current generations in Russia as the current president Vladimir Putin was a KGB agent in East Germany in the 1980s.

Robert Whitfield (Simon Vance) does an absolutely fantastic job narrating this book and the author Christopher Andrew has done an equally fantastic job writing the book. It is easily one of the best written books that I have ever read. It was a joy and pleasure to read. Whitfield's can actually pronounce the English as well as the Russian names correctly, which is a pleasure to listen to in this book.

Although this book was published in 2000 it is still a great historical account of the KGB. If you are interested in the fictional accounts of John LeCarre, Len Deighton, and other writers of spies during the Cold War you will love this book. If you like Spycraft by Wallace, Melton and Schlesinger you will love this book.

I loved this book and you will love it too.

The book is very long. I love that it is in audio format on audible.com, but I would also get a copy for your reference shelf. It is a wonderful book.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 01-24-13

Details galore

Would you listen to The Sword and the Shield again? Why?

Tremendously detailed history of KGB operations. This book has a broad scope -- beginning with the birth of the Cheka in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution and continuing through to the 1980's. However, the main focus is on KGB operations during the Cold War. If you're looking for a lot of details, you'll love it. If not, you may find it a bit tedious. Very good narration.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • DS
  • 07-05-15

FOR ESPIONAGE JUNKIES

IF you enjoy the minutia of cold war espionage activity,this is the book for you. There are many books from the perspective of the CIA and MI-5-6, this is from the perspective of the KGB. What was most interesting to me was the ideological blinders of Stalin and Andropov, and the subsequent sycophant behavior of their underlings, which caused them to make many blunders and and rendered KGB efforts meaningless. It was interesting to see that both sides were foiled by ideological blindness.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • Redford, MI, United States
  • 06-25-12

Amazing Story

What did you love best about The Sword and the Shield?

Such an interesting story with a large amount of detail that many would not have known about without Mitokhin.

What about Robert Whitfield’s performance did you like?

Well read, easy to listen to while commuting.

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

No, 31 hours is a little much for one sitting.

Any additional comments?

A small amount of details reviewed from earlier in the book toward the end. I thought it helped flush out the book but some might not like it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Engrossing and a truly spellbinding read.

Where does The Sword and the Shield rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Certainly among my top ten in regards to espionage.

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

No. First time and in regards to his performance I would rate him a nine. It took me few hours to warm up to his reading but then I became simply put "feeling as if I were a part of the Novel" Well done! Will certainly listen if the subject interests me and he is the reader.

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

Yes it was. In my case I found myself having to stop the recording in order to do my daily chores.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Impossible as an audiobook

This is an impossible listen. It's a good book, the narrator does his best, but really... With an avalanche of strange names, codenames, dates and whatnot I couldn't possibly follow the story without the need to go back and forth between pages to check if agent Otto is the same man as Viktor So-and-so etc. Spying is a murky business and getting to understand double and triple cross isn't possible with an audiobook.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A very comprehensive history

This is an absolute treasure trove of declassified information! Should be required reading for anyone interested in Cold War history.

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Unbiased Authoritative an in depth exposè

Excellent book on USSR espionage however you do need to be interested in the subject

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Excellent book, somewhat subpar delivery

Subject matter & story is absolutely fascinating and spell-binding. The narrator, however, leaves much to be desired. Advice for narrators reading books originally written in other languages (in this case Russian): please practice just a bit pronouncing what you’re reading, otherwise you’re speaking gibberish. Or stick with English and don’t attempt to quote anything in Russian.

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It’s all in the Preparation and Delivery

The most factual, well written, and delivered report on the KGB and its adversaries - internally and externally. Robert Whitfield’s fluid delivery makes what could have been a “War and Peace” bore into an exciting listening experience. He flawless pronunciation of Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, and the Slavic languages is highly commendable.