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The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhag The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB's secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network.Vasili Mitrokhin, a secret dissident who worked in the KGB archive, smuggled out copies of its most highly classified files every day for twelve years. In 1992, a U.S. ally succeeded in exfiltrating the KGB officer and his entire archive out of Moscow. The archive covers the entire period from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 1980s and includes revelations concerning almost every country in the world. But the KGB's main target, of course, was the United States.Though there is top-secret material on almost every country in the world, the United States is at the top of the list. As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century.Among the topics and revelations explored are: The KGB's covert operations in the United States and throughout the West, some of which remain dangerous today. KGB files on Oswald and the JFK assassination that Boris Yeltsin almost certainly has no intention of showing President Clinton. The KGB's attempts to discredit civil rights leader in the 1960s, including its infiltration of the inner circle of a key leader. The KGB's use of radio intercept posts in New York and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s to intercept high-level U.S. government communications. The KGB's attempts to steal technological secrets from major U.S. aerospace and technology corporations. KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president. KGB spies who successfully posed as U.S. citizens under a series of ingenious disguises, including several who attained access to the upper echelons of New York society.


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The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhag The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB's secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network.Vasili Mitrokhin, a secret dissident who worked in the KGB archive, smuggled out copies of its most highly classified files every day for twelve years. In 1992, a U.S. ally succeeded in exfiltrating the KGB officer and his entire archive out of Moscow. The archive covers the entire period from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 1980s and includes revelations concerning almost every country in the world. But the KGB's main target, of course, was the United States.Though there is top-secret material on almost every country in the world, the United States is at the top of the list. As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century.Among the topics and revelations explored are: The KGB's covert operations in the United States and throughout the West, some of which remain dangerous today. KGB files on Oswald and the JFK assassination that Boris Yeltsin almost certainly has no intention of showing President Clinton. The KGB's attempts to discredit civil rights leader in the 1960s, including its infiltration of the inner circle of a key leader. The KGB's use of radio intercept posts in New York and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s to intercept high-level U.S. government communications. The KGB's attempts to steal technological secrets from major U.S. aerospace and technology corporations. KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president. KGB spies who successfully posed as U.S. citizens under a series of ingenious disguises, including several who attained access to the upper echelons of New York society.

30 review for The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive & the Secret History of the KGB

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marvin Goodman

    First of all, I'm filled with respect for the dedication it took for Vasili Mitrokhin to painstakingly copy thousands upon thousands of documents, as a KGB archivist, and secretly store them under his home. The trove most assuredly has been of incalculable value to historians and western intelligence agencies. Because I've always been a fan of the espionage genre - both historical and fictional - I expected to binge-read this book, growing drunk on previously unavailable levels of detail and acc First of all, I'm filled with respect for the dedication it took for Vasili Mitrokhin to painstakingly copy thousands upon thousands of documents, as a KGB archivist, and secretly store them under his home. The trove most assuredly has been of incalculable value to historians and western intelligence agencies. Because I've always been a fan of the espionage genre - both historical and fictional - I expected to binge-read this book, growing drunk on previously unavailable levels of detail and accuracy in real-life spy drama. Well, I don't "binge-read" anything, considering how methodically I read and how quickly I fall asleep when I finally make my way to bed, but getting through this book was an arduous slog. More than its daunting 600 page length, it was the awkward pacing that continually tripped me up. Because of the organization (traversing the period of history detailed in Mitrokhin's archive not chronologically, but rather by adversary country or espionage method) I was constantly bouncing from decade to decade, and had difficulty in applying a timeline to what I was reading. You'll find this criticism shallow, I suspect, but I was particularly off-put by the rendering (in brackets) of the multiple code names assigned to every character described in the book. Undoubtedly this was done to underscore the credibility of the information, and to position the book as a reference source, but it quickly started to aggravate me, and made the sentences clumsy to read and digest. By the time I had gotten halfway through the book, I was really sick of it, and found myself wishing, on every page, that I had a digest version of the thing, half the length, and arranged more chronologically. Still, I doggedly slogged on, more at the prospect of picking up fascinating little espionage stories (which I frequently did) than out of some stubborn insistence on finishing what I'd started. I really believe that the way this book is edited and arranged, combined with its vast length, would cause perhaps a fourth of well-intentioned readers to abandon it before they complete it. I now despair of what to do with the sequel, "The World Was Going Our Way," which now mocks me from my to-be-read shelf. I suspect that I'll do little more than flip through a chapter or two, unless the structure and style turn out to be very different.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Miloș Dumbraci

    plenty of interesting information, but cluttered and unstructured, therefore quickly becoming tiring and boring instead of captivating (which potential it did have)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A very interesting read for those interested in Russian or Cold War history or espionage. This book is very thorough, so be prepared for a long read. The writing style is consistent, so my flagging interest at the midway point in the book was a result of my general lack of interest of the post-Stalin Cold War period. The notes secreted away from the archives and published in the West reveal some very important historical facts. In a broad context, it is clear that the Soviet system was never abl A very interesting read for those interested in Russian or Cold War history or espionage. This book is very thorough, so be prepared for a long read. The writing style is consistent, so my flagging interest at the midway point in the book was a result of my general lack of interest of the post-Stalin Cold War period. The notes secreted away from the archives and published in the West reveal some very important historical facts. In a broad context, it is clear that the Soviet system was never able to become a sustainable reality, terror and deception allowed the system to propagate itself. That is not to say that there weren't some great achievements in the USSR. But inhumanity, impracticality, and the inefficiencies of the system are obvious to anyone who can objectively observe historical facts. Only utopians and revisionists believe that it was not the Soviet system and ideology that were flawed, but rather the practical policies of the USSR and particularly the horrors of Stalinism. Yet to dismiss the KGB (in any of its incarnations) as propagandists of a dying state would be too simplistic. There are a number of areas that KGB actions did enormous harm to the West, including propagating the belief that the JFK assassination was a plot by American intelligence agencies or that the CIA created the AIDS virus in a lab and intentionally infected blacks. These among other operations fuel the conspiracy theory thinking so prevalent with many people today and propagate mistrust in our government and our fellow citizens. But these actions are the natural consequence of an agency born of suspicion, by men who lived the shadowy lives of underground revolutionaries. I believe the paranoia endemic of the Soviet regime, though partially a natural result of the Russian character, was primarily a result of the revolutionary character. That years of clandestine meetings, arrests, informing on friends, exile, and criminal conspiracy created the impetus to use the secret services (Cheka, KGB, ect.) as a primary tool of the state to monitor and protect political doctrine. The numerous examples of the great resources that went into discrediting expatriate Soviet artists and writers, who were critical of the USSR, are a perfect example of how diseased the Soviet system was. Plotting to maim a defected ballerina is not a sign of strong state or a successful culture. Finally, I think this book is a great companion to our present conflict with Russia. Mr. Putin was a KGB man and his thinking is much rooted in the culture of the KGB. I think a review of this book and the history of KGB operations in it provide a valuable insight into how Russia operates today. Before I read this book, I thought reports that the FSB bombed a Russian apartment complex to create a casus belli were the stuff of conspiracy. After reading this book, and getting a unique insight into the KGB culture this book provides, I now believe it entirely possible that the FSB was responsible for bombing civilians as a pretext for the Chechen war in an effort to reestablish the greatness of the Russian state by disaffected members of Russia's security services. If so, that conspiracy would be entirely in accord with the actions taken by the KGB so often in Soviet history, using cynical and manipulative means to suppress the human spirit.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This volume (1999) continues and substantially recapitulates Andrew's previous 'KGB' (1991). Like the former, Andrew consulted with a former KGB agent, this time with one who had had long-term access to the KGB archives. Both books are histories beginning with the overthrow of the Czar in 1917, the former going up to Gorbachev, the latter to Yeltsin. Both also discuss the allied intelligence agencies of the Warsaw Pact countries. Reading one right after the other I found the repetition helpful i This volume (1999) continues and substantially recapitulates Andrew's previous 'KGB' (1991). Like the former, Andrew consulted with a former KGB agent, this time with one who had had long-term access to the KGB archives. Both books are histories beginning with the overthrow of the Czar in 1917, the former going up to Gorbachev, the latter to Yeltsin. Both also discuss the allied intelligence agencies of the Warsaw Pact countries. Reading one right after the other I found the repetition helpful in navigating and remembering much of the detail. There being much talk now of the Russians attempting to influence the recent presidential elections it is worth noting two things: First, that the U.S.A. has interfered with the internal politics of other countries as a matter of course. Second, that the U.S.S.R. was also in the habit of interfering with presidential elections in the U.S.A. However, while the U.S.A. has often been successful (think of post-war France and Italy), the efforts of the U.S.S.R. were pretty much confined to helping to fund the Communist Party of America's campaigns, none of which have had much of an effect. If indeed our domestic intelligence agencies are correct about the recent Trump vs. Clinton contest, this may be the first occasion in which the Russians have had some real influence.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Those poor, hapless KGB agents throwing bombs at Trotsky’s grandson (and missing), getting drunk and losing their microfilm nickels to Brooklyn newsboys, and falling in love so hard they gave up their contacts to the Canadian Mounties. Didn’t expect this to be funny, but it was hilarious.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

    Quite recently a colleague told me that he resented a newspaper columnist who had referred to a relative of his as a communist spy. My colleague believed his relative had been an innocent victim of McCarthyist red baiting. I knew that his relative was no innocent but a high-level KGB operative. It said so in the Mitrokhin Archive vol. I, "The Sword and the Shield". One of the tragedies of the Cold War is that many western communist spies, traitors to their own countries and dupes to one of the wo Quite recently a colleague told me that he resented a newspaper columnist who had referred to a relative of his as a communist spy. My colleague believed his relative had been an innocent victim of McCarthyist red baiting. I knew that his relative was no innocent but a high-level KGB operative. It said so in the Mitrokhin Archive vol. I, "The Sword and the Shield". One of the tragedies of the Cold War is that many western communist spies, traitors to their own countries and dupes to one of the worst systems humanity has ever known, managed to rebrand themselves as victims of persecution. The paradigm for this view is Miller's "The Crucible", where for “witches" one should read "spies". Except that there were no real witches but there sure were real spies. The Rosenbergs were spies and they did help Stalin put together his nuclear weapons. Alger Hiss was a spy. And so on and on. And as we have known or suspected for a long time, many NGOs such as the World Council of Churches and many political parties and publications were also preferred haunts for KGB agents and contacts in its neverending propaganda war. Volume I of the Mitrokhin files is bulky and longwinded. The writing is what used to be described as workmanlike in that it goes to some lengths to avoid rethoric and even elegance. It just piles on fact upon fact. The facts are fascinating. As noted above, many of us knew that the governing and the chattering classes of the West were filled with spies and fellow travelers, but the sheer magnitude of that presence is impressive. We also knew that the Soviet leadership often did not manage to make the best possible use of the extraordinary intelligence these spies provided (remember Sorge's warning about operation Barbarossa, and how Stalin dismissed him as a stooge to the British?). The book goes in mind-numbing detail on just how often political or personal prejudice stood in the way of taking advantage of the information. As a Latin American I am a much bigger fan of volume II of the files. But volume I is a good place to start, and to never let us forget that the Cold War was a real war, that it could have been lost, and what it could have been like if that had happened.

  7. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    whiney mccarthyists given access to secret archives. decent narrative of soviet espionage efforts, including assassinations of monarchists and then Trotskyists. this volume doesn't cover operations such as overthrowing foreign governments, which is the meat of the second volume's allegations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    stormin

    This was a really, really long book that took me an unusually long time to get through. (It took me 11 days, when I almost always finish even the longest books in under a week. I think it took me 4 days to get through Brandon Sanderson's most recent book, Oathbringer.) The information in it was really interesting. I learned an awful lot about the history of the Cold War. I think the most interesting stuff was the history of Soviet meddling in US elections and (more generally) the overall American This was a really, really long book that took me an unusually long time to get through. (It took me 11 days, when I almost always finish even the longest books in under a week. I think it took me 4 days to get through Brandon Sanderson's most recent book, Oathbringer.) The information in it was really interesting. I learned an awful lot about the history of the Cold War. I think the most interesting stuff was the history of Soviet meddling in US elections and (more generally) the overall American social-political system. This is a long quote, but an interesting one: Simultaneously, the Centre implemented a series of active measure designed to weaken the internal cohesion of the United States and undermine its international reputation by inciting race hatred. In 1971 Andropov personally approved the fabrication of pamphlets full of racist insults purporting to come from the extremists Jewish Defense League, headed by Meir Kahane, calling for a campaign against the "black mongrels" who, it was claimed, were attacking Jews and looting Jewish shops. Thirty pamphlets were mailed to a series of militant black groups in the hope of producing "mass disorders in New York." At the same time forged letters were sent to sixty black organizations giving fictitious details of atrocities committed by the League against blacks and calling for vengeance against Kahane and his chief lieutenants. Probably to the Centre's disappointment, Kahane was assassinated some years later, not by a black militant but by an Arab. On at least one occasion, the Centre ordered the use of explosives to exacerbate racial tensions in New York. On July 25, 1971 the head of the FCD First (North American) Department, Anatoli Tikhonovich Kireyev, instructed the New York residency to proceed with operation PANDORA: the planting of a delayed-action explosive package in "the Negro section of New York." After the explosion, the residency was ordered to make anonymous telephone calls to two or three black organizations, claiming that the explosion was the work of the Jewish Defense League. The attempt to stir up racial tensions in the United States remained part of Service A's stock-in-trade for the remainder of the Cold War. Before the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, for example, Line PR officers in the Washington residency mailed bogus communications from the Ku Klux Klan to the Olympic committees of African and Asian countries. Among the racial taunts devised by Service A for inclusion in the mailings was the following: THE OLYMPICS--FOR THE WHITES ONLY! African monkeys! A grand reception awaits you in Los Angeles! We are preparing for the Olympic game by shooting at black moiving targets. In Los Angeles our own Olympic flames are ready to incinerate you. The highest award for a true American patriot would be the lynching of an African monkey. Blacks, Welcome to the Olympic games in Los Angeles! We'll give you a reception you'll never forget! This and other active measures on the same theme made front-page news in many counries. When Attorney-General William French Smith denounced the letters as KGB forgeries, Moscow predictably feigned righteous indignation at Washington's anti-Soviet slanders. I was reading this in March 2017, just a couple of months after Trump's inauguration, and so it was impossible to read it without contrasting to the allegations of collusion with Russia. From what I can tell, Vladmir Putin is a direct ideological descendant of the KGB leaders who tried destabilize and delegitimize American democracy, and it seems entirely likely that the main effort of the Russian interference in the 2016 election was not to bring about Trump's election because they liked to Trump or even necessarily to bring about Trump's election at all. Instead, it was simply to weaken and degrade the United States political system. Sadly, it seems to have succeeded to a far greater extent than the clumsy efforts of the 1970s and 1980s could ever have anticipated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    CD

    A subtitle that should be considered by any potential reader is "The Paranoia of Stalin". The information alone in the odd way it is presented regarding the activities of Stalin alone make this book worth investigating for those interested in this part of Russian/Soviet history. Three stars is a higher rating than this work merits on all counts except raw information. And it is raw. Indeed this rates as one of the most poorly organized and constructed historical works of this caliber that has bee A subtitle that should be considered by any potential reader is "The Paranoia of Stalin". The information alone in the odd way it is presented regarding the activities of Stalin alone make this book worth investigating for those interested in this part of Russian/Soviet history. Three stars is a higher rating than this work merits on all counts except raw information. And it is raw. Indeed this rates as one of the most poorly organized and constructed historical works of this caliber that has been released. Some editor is still talking with their therapist about how bad was the editing. In minor defense of the author, the opening chapter details the history of the book. The method that the author Christoper Andrew has to engage in lead to much of the problem. However most historians and researchers deal with disorganized and incomplete chronicles at one time or another and rewrite a narrative that is more coherent than the original. This work in places looks to be a translation that is merely cleaned up for colloquial English acceptability. In other places there is valuable coordination of new and previously known documentation that expands greatly the knowledge in the west of the Soviet era. The sections on Trotsky and the obsessive madness of the opponents of his philosophy is quite revealing. The violence and body count is also shocking even decades and generations later. Read this work with a notepad and pen or many ebook marks available to be able to jump around when reading. I've been through this three times now and have yet to read it straight through. Not a general introduction to Soviet era intelligence as one needs a rigorous founding in the entire Philby affair (the real, not fictional version) before reading much of this work. Only recommended for those who are willing to cross reference and do side reading and are not in a rush.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cary

    Vasili Mitrokhin took a lot of work home with him--and not just his--took notes, sometimes verbatim, and then smuggled the notes out with him when he defected. Ranging from bone-chilling and frightening to ridiculous and laughable, this book may not have all the KGB's secrets, but it has a lot of them. The KGB could be brutally efficient, but at times its efforts were wildly out of proportion with any sort of rational estimation of the level of threat something presented. Paranoia and conspiracy Vasili Mitrokhin took a lot of work home with him--and not just his--took notes, sometimes verbatim, and then smuggled the notes out with him when he defected. Ranging from bone-chilling and frightening to ridiculous and laughable, this book may not have all the KGB's secrets, but it has a lot of them. The KGB could be brutally efficient, but at times its efforts were wildly out of proportion with any sort of rational estimation of the level of threat something presented. Paranoia and conspiracy theories will do that to you, and the KGB was nothing if not prone to both. The only caution I would give is not to dive into this without some background in the Cold War (which I had from various other readings) and some knowledge of the KGB's history (which I did not have). This is a down in the bushes and weeds book, not a holistic history. If you're like me you'd appreciate a bit of framework to hang all the events and names and places on to. The writing is good. The tone of Andrew's writing tracks well the seriousness and absurdity of the events. If you've had a taste of the Cold War and/or Russian/Soviet history and want something juicier (in more ways than one), definitely pick this up.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marin

    Vasill Mitrohhin is a hero among historians - he had the amazing courage to keep an astonishing amount of data about the relentless spying activities of the soviets from being hidden and deleted. The result is this very detailed book, which shows how the soviets spied on a scale hard to imagine from the start until the collapse of communism and how so many westerners collaborated with them. Once again the reality proves to be more fascinating and incredible than fiction.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michael Thomas

    Great book, speaks to how evil the Soviet Union was. Think of a mob family that possesses 10,000 nuclear warheads and you get an idea of what the hellish nation was all about. The book is not based on heresy or innuendo, it is built off of smuggled KGB documents that detail the endless crimes these hellishly evil people committed through the entire USSR existence. Can be some tough places to wade through, but no pain, no gain.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alvar

    This thing is dense. It's not really well written, but the information presented is amazing. It's the Mitrokhin papers, basically hand-copied archives from the KGB archivist, who defected in the early 1990s. I pick it up every few months, read a couple of hundred pages, and put it down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    I don't think we fully appreciate yet the revelations that are in this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    The book I read was 1864 pages, free on archiv.org. It is well organized. Christopher M. Andrew has done an excellent job of assembling into a readable account the smuggled voluminous notes made by former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin from official top secret KGB files at the risk of his life. They pertain to the period from about 1918 to 1992. The KGB changed names several times. Mitrokhin did not have direct access to GRU (military intelligence) files. Any professional intelligence hand who fai The book I read was 1864 pages, free on archiv.org. It is well organized. Christopher M. Andrew has done an excellent job of assembling into a readable account the smuggled voluminous notes made by former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin from official top secret KGB files at the risk of his life. They pertain to the period from about 1918 to 1992. The KGB changed names several times. Mitrokhin did not have direct access to GRU (military intelligence) files. Any professional intelligence hand who fails to read this is derelict. It should interest any alert United States citizen. Russia today is employing active techniques proven successful over many decades in order to disrupt any comity in the world that might constrain the increase of its (and its potentates') power and influence. They are very good at it despite limitations arising from the institutional paranoia and top-down doctrinaire bureaucracy that have historically plagued their intelligence services. Credit them with maintaining a doomed and brutal government in power for 70 years. Andrew supplies parenthetically the KGB code names of many of its assets and agents for convenient cross reference to those decrypted in the Venona project, a U.S. counterintelligence program of the Army Signal Intelligence Service and then the National Security Agency from 1943 until 1980 which covertly intercepted over 3,000 NKVD, KGB, and GRU coded messages wherein true names were further encoded and then to some extent identified from context and other sources. Many Venona texts remain undeciphered today, and many true names are not yet worked out. We await the next momentous defection. The Mitrokhin files largely confirm some accounts, previously of disputed accuracy, of defecting U.S. Communist party spies such as Elizabeth T Bentley and Whittaker Chambers in their books "Out of Bondage" and "Witness". Mention should be made of John D. Barron's account of the remarkable U.S. double agent Morris H. Childs in "Operation Solo: The FBI's Man in the Kremlin". "Witness" is deservedly on many Top Books lists. Histories of the 20th century, and even of the cold war, generally have not addressed the magnitude of influence of Soviet intelligence activity as proved by these archives, resulting in some lamentable perspective these days (2019).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    I understand that this is an unprecedented coup for intelligence research, and I recognize that the author is an academic, but I feel like the blurbs rather oversold the book as a spy thriller. I knew going into it that it would be detailed and well-footnoted, but I also hoped that there would be a story or several. What happens instead is that the juicy stories get buried under piles of dates, names, and places that are just lists of facts. Mitrokhin's own narrative of how he collected, hid, an I understand that this is an unprecedented coup for intelligence research, and I recognize that the author is an academic, but I feel like the blurbs rather oversold the book as a spy thriller. I knew going into it that it would be detailed and well-footnoted, but I also hoped that there would be a story or several. What happens instead is that the juicy stories get buried under piles of dates, names, and places that are just lists of facts. Mitrokhin's own narrative of how he collected, hid, and then smuggled the records and documents out of the Soviet Union would make an amazing book on its own, and I hope someone is making a movie of that adventure. Then there are all the Soviet spies who took on completely different identities, romanced assets from other countries, and stole all kinds of secrets. And just as fascinating are the citizens of the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Britain (especially Britain) who felt passionate about the Soviet cause or about money and went to great lengths to sell intelligence to the KGB. At times I thought the author was going to go in depth with one of these tales, but then he switched topics to more lists of code names or bureaucratic orders, and the thrill is gone. Maybe I could recommend here that someone with a good sense of narrative mine this book for some stories that could be told for a non-academic audience, so that those of us who don't need every date documented could have something to enjoy and leave this book to the historians who need that kind of information.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Craig Fiebig

    The greatest political philosophy about-face followed the announcement of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. CP members around the world shifted from "Hitler is evil" to "Hitler's our friend" in less than 48 hours, a position they endorsed and maintained until he invaded Russia in operation Barbarossa in 1941. After the invasion CPs reverted to their original position. Today we see almost the same behavior. Democrats inexplicably described Republican concerns over the USSR/Russian Federation s The greatest political philosophy about-face followed the announcement of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. CP members around the world shifted from "Hitler is evil" to "Hitler's our friend" in less than 48 hours, a position they endorsed and maintained until he invaded Russia in operation Barbarossa in 1941. After the invasion CPs reverted to their original position. Today we see almost the same behavior. Democrats inexplicably described Republican concerns over the USSR/Russian Federation suddenly see Putin as the embodiment of all evil. Republicans, meanwhile, went through the same 180 only in reverse. The CP behavior in the 1940s and the American behavior today rival one another in blind tribalism. Apparently our commitment to our ideology is based entirely on political convenience of the moment. Andrew's analysis of the Mitrokhin archive reminds any serious student of the rivalry that it has been a contest since the October revolution. The behavior of the NKVD/KGB/FSB detailed in these archives presents all the compelling evidence one would require to objectively assess the rivalry. Although lengthy, this work is well-worth the investment of time because it pays off in detail. Better, more succinct narratives are available either from Conquest (Reflections on a Ravaged Century) or Gaddis (We Now Know). All three are worthy reads.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lysergius

    This a a huge work. Just holding it read was a marathon. Based on the gleanings from the KGB archives collected by Vasili Mitrokhin. This huge work takes the reader behind the scenes at the Soviet security agency variously called the Cheka, NKVD, MGB, KGB and SVR. It documents the highs and lows, the successes and failures of the agency in its various incarnations from the founding of the Bolshevik state. The most interesting aspect I found was the way in which the agency had been used to prop up This a a huge work. Just holding it read was a marathon. Based on the gleanings from the KGB archives collected by Vasili Mitrokhin. This huge work takes the reader behind the scenes at the Soviet security agency variously called the Cheka, NKVD, MGB, KGB and SVR. It documents the highs and lows, the successes and failures of the agency in its various incarnations from the founding of the Bolshevik state. The most interesting aspect I found was the way in which the agency had been used to prop up the one party state, and ensure its survival for almost seventy years. A phenomenal feat only made possible by the application of huge resources of time, money and manpower all aimed at suppressing dissent in any form. Going so far as to prevent Nobel prize winners collecting their prizes. There is a warning too that the SVR, the latest incarnation is not a toothless organisation and "active measures" have always been its forte. And that Putin fellow? He was active in Germany for at least 15 years as a KGB agent during the cold war.

  19. 5 out of 5

    M.K.

    I. HAVE. BEEN. READING. THIS. SINCE. JULY. Though it was really cool! (but very very VERY dry and boring at times. #nonfic) I read several books on the OSS (the American spies/saboteurs during WWII and Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (on English spies/commandos [COMMANOS!!!!]) not to mention several spy movies, but they're all from the US or UK's POV so it was awesome to read this and fill in gaps in the story and see what the KGB was up to. Also, the bit about JFK's killer...I lau I. HAVE. BEEN. READING. THIS. SINCE. JULY. Though it was really cool! (but very very VERY dry and boring at times. #nonfic) I read several books on the OSS (the American spies/saboteurs during WWII and Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (on English spies/commandos [COMMANOS!!!!]) not to mention several spy movies, but they're all from the US or UK's POV so it was awesome to read this and fill in gaps in the story and see what the KGB was up to. Also, the bit about JFK's killer...I laughed so hard SPOILERS: sort of? Basically, Oswald (the guy who shot JFK) tried to defect to Russia years before he shot JFK. And this is kind of how it went: Oswald: I want to defect! COMMUNISM! KGB: What's with this guy? *squints suspiciously* Is he CIA? He has to be. Nobody is actually THAT crazy Oswald: *being Oswald* KGB: Nope. He's that crazy. And the Oswald decided "he'd be better serving quietly in Texas" KGB: Oh yeah, yeah totally. (Thank goodness he finally left!) And then he shot a president and they were like OH NO. NOW THEY'RE GONNA BLAME US. STUPID CRAZY MAN. Hey! Let's make this elaborate scheme to blame literally everyone but us! YEAH!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mike Thiac

    First, let you know, this is not a book to bring to the beach for some light reading over the weekend. It is a serious look at the history and evolution of the lead intelligence arm of the Soviet Union, and the early years after the end of the Cold War. Very well researched, documented, you get the breath of how far they went throughout the western world. And you again know the wisdom of having excellent HUMINT and SIGINT. A satellite can show you where the divisions are, but an intercepted comm First, let you know, this is not a book to bring to the beach for some light reading over the weekend. It is a serious look at the history and evolution of the lead intelligence arm of the Soviet Union, and the early years after the end of the Cold War. Very well researched, documented, you get the breath of how far they went throughout the western world. And you again know the wisdom of having excellent HUMINT and SIGINT. A satellite can show you where the divisions are, but an intercepted communication can tell you where they are going, and a man or woman in the inner circle can tell you what the commander is thinking. It’s the first in a two series history of Soviet/Russian intelligence. I’ll check out the next book probably next year.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    a monumental effort detailing the history of Soviet Intellegence serivice, from its conception in the CHEKA to now-sh with the FSB . funny to think that The russians leeches off of other nations' progress because their ecnomic system is so backwards, and are able to convince so many bright young people into their cause. and funny to think that the Russians them selves do not trust the technology that they developed. still the brave men of the NKVD stood like walls of stone against the onslaught a monumental effort detailing the history of Soviet Intellegence serivice, from its conception in the CHEKA to now-sh with the FSB . funny to think that The russians leeches off of other nations' progress because their ecnomic system is so backwards, and are able to convince so many bright young people into their cause. and funny to think that the Russians them selves do not trust the technology that they developed. still the brave men of the NKVD stood like walls of stone against the onslaught of the Nazi PAnzer divisions and their sacrafices should be remembered, and so probably be their deeds inthe Lubyanka

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tanner Nelson

    This was a great read, although occasionally dry. Like most of my books, I listened on Audible. The narrator was good, but I found that this was a book I could listen to while doing other, more pressing, things. In other words, it doesn’t punish you for spacing out because it mostly reads like a history book — which is a quality I can enjoy in my reads. Because this book was written using the archives of a KGB archivist, it reads like an anthology of short stories about varying things the KGB di This was a great read, although occasionally dry. Like most of my books, I listened on Audible. The narrator was good, but I found that this was a book I could listen to while doing other, more pressing, things. In other words, it doesn’t punish you for spacing out because it mostly reads like a history book — which is a quality I can enjoy in my reads. Because this book was written using the archives of a KGB archivist, it reads like an anthology of short stories about varying things the KGB did from the October revolution to 1991. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the read, although I wished it was a little less dry.

  23. 5 out of 5

    b bb bbbb bbbbbbbb

    OMG. WHAT A TOME! And also, deeply fascinating. It's dry and heavily, heavily detailed. Yet somehow also a page turner for me. The topics, setting, tension, politics, paranoia and tactics employed seem surprisingly relevant to our current era. It was interesting to find out there was some actual basis for the red scare (top level penetration of the US government with collaboration of the CPUSA), while not unexpected the information was absent from my education. I'll miss reading a couple pages b OMG. WHAT A TOME! And also, deeply fascinating. It's dry and heavily, heavily detailed. Yet somehow also a page turner for me. The topics, setting, tension, politics, paranoia and tactics employed seem surprisingly relevant to our current era. It was interesting to find out there was some actual basis for the red scare (top level penetration of the US government with collaboration of the CPUSA), while not unexpected the information was absent from my education. I'll miss reading a couple pages before sleep every night (for months).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Washburn

    An intriguing look into KGP espionage with the help of information brought to the US by a defector. Many sections were amusing in the bumbling, disorganized nature of spy work. Others were intense for the danger and proliferation of KGB penetration into sensitive areas. Overall, it’s hard to not see this type of espionage as something archaic and irrelevant given today's technology. If nothing else, the book provides a decent summary of the turmoil of the time and a link in the chain leading to An intriguing look into KGP espionage with the help of information brought to the US by a defector. Many sections were amusing in the bumbling, disorganized nature of spy work. Others were intense for the danger and proliferation of KGB penetration into sensitive areas. Overall, it’s hard to not see this type of espionage as something archaic and irrelevant given today's technology. If nothing else, the book provides a decent summary of the turmoil of the time and a link in the chain leading to today’s international relationships.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ron Wood

    Long.... Had to switch over to the audiobook. Read it for a class and it was very interesting. If you want to read chronologically serialized individual stories of the very productive and deep penetrating spies who aided an ultimately unsustainable government it's great. If not then consider reading some Ian Fleming.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Warner

    Inside the KGB during the Cold War. A bizzare and troubling account of the Cold War fight between the West and East. For all of the fear that we had, the Soviet government's inability to work properly seemed to actually be the reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union. The west was better, but not by much. Maybe we just survived longer! And so ends the Cold War.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pete Zilla

    “Nothing better illustrates the continuity between the Soviet and Russian foreign intelligence services than the attempt by the SVR to reclaim its KGB past.” A great read on exploits and tactics of the Soviet intelligence services that gives insight into their likely current roles in russian policy and politics. This book has aged well in the 20 years since it was written.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Fascinating history from KGB archives covering most of the 20th century, and a timely reminder that Russia has been meddling in the domestic politics of other countries and perfecting its war on the truth for decades...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    I'll admit I couldn't get through all 40 hours of this beast. There's a lot of needed repetition. But anyone trying to understand Russia in 2018 had better watch The Americans. And then maybe read its source material.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Radu

    5 stars for the Mitrokhin amazing effort to shed some light on some of the KGB secrets, helping us to better understand a dark era. On the downside, I found constant use of code names a little bit too much.

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