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The Venona Secrets  By  cover art

The Venona Secrets

By: Herbert Romerstein,Eric Breindel
Narrated by: Jim McCance
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Publisher's summary

The Venona Files are several intercepted communiques between the Soviet Union and American Communists following WWII. Some historians and journalists are starting to regard the Cold-War-era American Communist Party as nothing more than a quaint club of polite if misguided ideologues.

In The Venona Secrets, Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel intend to create a new impression of treacherous Americans "who willfully gave their primary allegiance to a foreign power, the USSR.... For Communists, true patriotism meant helping to make the world a better place by advancing the interests of the Soviet Union in any way possible." By using the now-celebrated Venona documents - top-secret Soviet cables sent between Moscow and Washington, D.C., in the 1940s - Romerstein and Breindel tell a frightening story of how deeply spies penetrated the U.S. government.

©2000 Herbert Romerstein (P)2012 Regnery Publishing

What listeners say about The Venona Secrets

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The Stalin Burreau in America

We all heard about McCarthyism and Alger Hiss and the Communist Spy Rings, but I always thought that stuff was all hype. With the fall of Soviet Union and access to Soviet archives we NOW know that the Soviets penetrated almost every tier of American government. To be honest, this revelation is almost TOO big to wrap my head around. In many ways, it changes my entire understanding of postwar American history....

Venona is a code name given to the NSA's Soviet code-breaking project. Once cracked, Americans could start translating secret spy cables between the Soviet Union and their agents in America. We only had half the story. With the REST of Venona....available only since the mid 1990's...we now have the other half.

The narrator is awful, but the content of the book is amazing. I am now reading other books on the topic just to be sure I understand the subject matter. There were high-level government officials, particularly in Treasury and State Departments who took ORDERS from their handlers in Moscow....who in turn took their orders from the brutal Joseph Stalin. Really?

Yuck.

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12 people found this helpful

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Americans as Soviet Spies? Surprising & Chilling

If you could sum up The Venona Secrets in three words, what would they be?

Complex, documented, chilling.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Venona Secrets?

The murder of Trotsky.

Which scene was your favorite?

The attempted murder of Trotsky--how can bullets be flying everywhere but Trotsky survives?

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The truth is much stranger than fiction.

Any additional comments?

Great narration.

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8 people found this helpful

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should be required reading for every high school s

Most Americans are ignorant to the extent of the Communist influences in our soviety today. This confirms that HUAC was spot on.

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4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Old news

The book is a decent history of Soviet intelligence but not very illuminating of Venona. The authors used Venona as a scaffold on which to drape a lot of material not specific to Venona. If you are new to the study of Soviet history then you will learn much, but if not, then most of the book will be just a re-stating of previously known material. I was disappointed in the book as well as the sluggish performance.

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Great Story. Odd Narrator.

This is an amazing story, one that every American should be made aware of. The problem I have with the book is the narrator’s style. Imagine someone in a public place telling you a long and complex story in a voice so that nobody nearby could hear what he’s saying.

This narrator made the book tough to get into and hard to listen to for any length of time.

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1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Lurch was the narrator

The Venona intercepts should be required reading for everyone as some of the liberal shibboleths are put to rest like, for example, the Rosenberg's innocence and Alger Hiss' relationship with the Soviet Union. However, the authors take, in my opinion, literary license with other facts such as Harry Hopkins' being a soviet agent, a charge that has never been conclusively sustained by any credible investigation. All in all, the raw Venona data is very, very interesting. The narrator is a member of the Addams family as his narration is not only colossally mind numbing but creepy. I had the sensation that I was listening to a medical examiner dictate an autopsy report.

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Exhausting but informative

My hope was that this would explain in more detail on the code makers who made the codes, clerks who used them, and the the code breakers who broke the codes. In a book with “Venona” would have liked more detail on the step by step process on breaking the code. Instead there are hundreds of names and connections to other names and organizations. Each of which comes with background information and quotes from interviews and testimonies. Following this without a chart showing all the personalities, events, and groups along with a timeline makes this an exhausting experience. There is a lot of good information here and I would have read/listened to this material either way, but I think this book missed the mark. I could not wait for this one to end.

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Fantastic book on Soviet Spying

I have read or listened to several on this topic and this I would categorize as essential.

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Unknown to me

On visit to spy museum many years ago had klecture on this interception of ussr cables since ww2 days...watch a feat...

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Extremely hard to follow

The topic is interesting, but there is literally hundreds of so and so talked to such and such that unless you sat with your eyes shut and focused on every sentence it’s hard to follow. Just way too much detail. Felt like listening to someone read a textbook. I tried hard to complete it, but after the disappointment of the Rosenbergs chapter I had to stop.

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