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Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames

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In his four decades as a KGB officer, Victor Cherkashin was a central player in the shadowy world of Cold War espionage. From his rigorous training in Soviet intelligence in the early 1950s to his prime spot as the KGB's head of counterintelligence at the Soviet embassy in Washington, Cherkashin's career was rich in episode and drama. In a riveting memoir, Cherkashin provi In his four decades as a KGB officer, Victor Cherkashin was a central player in the shadowy world of Cold War espionage. From his rigorous training in Soviet intelligence in the early 1950s to his prime spot as the KGB's head of counterintelligence at the Soviet embassy in Washington, Cherkashin's career was rich in episode and drama. In a riveting memoir, Cherkashin provides a remarkable insider's view of the KGB's prolonged conflict with the CIA. Playing a major role in global espionage for most of the Cold War, Cherkashin was posted to stations in the United States, Australia, India, and Lebanon. He tracked down U.S. and British spies around the world. But it was in 1985 that Cherkashin scored two of the KGB's biggest-ever coups. In April of that year, he recruited disgruntled CIA officer Aldrich Ames and became his principal handler. Six months later, FBI special agent Robert Hanssen contacted Cherkashin directly, eventually becoming an even bigger asset than Ames. In Spy Handler, Cherkashin offers the complete account of how and why both Americans turned against their country, and addresses the rumors of an undiscovered KGB spy-another Hanssen or Ames-still at large in the U.S. intelligence community. Full of vivid detail and dramatic accounts that shed stark new light on the inner workings of the KGB, Spy Handler is a major addition to Cold War history, told by one of its major players.


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In his four decades as a KGB officer, Victor Cherkashin was a central player in the shadowy world of Cold War espionage. From his rigorous training in Soviet intelligence in the early 1950s to his prime spot as the KGB's head of counterintelligence at the Soviet embassy in Washington, Cherkashin's career was rich in episode and drama. In a riveting memoir, Cherkashin provi In his four decades as a KGB officer, Victor Cherkashin was a central player in the shadowy world of Cold War espionage. From his rigorous training in Soviet intelligence in the early 1950s to his prime spot as the KGB's head of counterintelligence at the Soviet embassy in Washington, Cherkashin's career was rich in episode and drama. In a riveting memoir, Cherkashin provides a remarkable insider's view of the KGB's prolonged conflict with the CIA. Playing a major role in global espionage for most of the Cold War, Cherkashin was posted to stations in the United States, Australia, India, and Lebanon. He tracked down U.S. and British spies around the world. But it was in 1985 that Cherkashin scored two of the KGB's biggest-ever coups. In April of that year, he recruited disgruntled CIA officer Aldrich Ames and became his principal handler. Six months later, FBI special agent Robert Hanssen contacted Cherkashin directly, eventually becoming an even bigger asset than Ames. In Spy Handler, Cherkashin offers the complete account of how and why both Americans turned against their country, and addresses the rumors of an undiscovered KGB spy-another Hanssen or Ames-still at large in the U.S. intelligence community. Full of vivid detail and dramatic accounts that shed stark new light on the inner workings of the KGB, Spy Handler is a major addition to Cold War history, told by one of its major players.

30 review for Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is Victor Cherkashin's story about his 40-year career as a KGB officer. It provides a good inside look at spying. Both the CIA and KGB used very similar tactics, just on different sides. I like how Victor gives a very honest and realistic history of his career, and he tells his story without any kind of Cold War bias. One very interesting point that Victor makes is that most people do not decide to betray their country and spy for another one due to a disbelief in their country's idealogy. This is Victor Cherkashin's story about his 40-year career as a KGB officer. It provides a good inside look at spying. Both the CIA and KGB used very similar tactics, just on different sides. I like how Victor gives a very honest and realistic history of his career, and he tells his story without any kind of Cold War bias. One very interesting point that Victor makes is that most people do not decide to betray their country and spy for another one due to a disbelief in their country's idealogy. If you want to know why, you will need to read the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    Interesting and engaging story of the careeer of Victor Cherkashin, the KGB officer who handled Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen. A very well-written, straightforward account of his life and career, although being a memoir, I suspect it’s to some degree self-serving.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Randomboredom

    Not only did I find this interesting just because of the Aldrich Ames/Robert Hanssen connection but also from what the perspective of a KGB agent during the cold war. Never really thought about what life was life from that perspective. He painted a portrait of hard work under poor paying conditions, but a true, loyalist to his government. And when the iron curtain fell I actually felt bad for him...he wrote as though to be torn apart by it. Was pleasantly surprised by this book. Very good and ex Not only did I find this interesting just because of the Aldrich Ames/Robert Hanssen connection but also from what the perspective of a KGB agent during the cold war. Never really thought about what life was life from that perspective. He painted a portrait of hard work under poor paying conditions, but a true, loyalist to his government. And when the iron curtain fell I actually felt bad for him...he wrote as though to be torn apart by it. Was pleasantly surprised by this book. Very good and extremely interesting.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I really enjoy reading books discussing Cold War espionage but there's always been something missing. What's been missing is the other side. You never believe what one person says about an event; there is always another side of the story. This book represents a lot of "the other side". More than just telling the story of two spies, the author was able to allow the reader inside the life of a KGB officer stationed not only in the United States but also around the world. Anyone interested in the Co I really enjoy reading books discussing Cold War espionage but there's always been something missing. What's been missing is the other side. You never believe what one person says about an event; there is always another side of the story. This book represents a lot of "the other side". More than just telling the story of two spies, the author was able to allow the reader inside the life of a KGB officer stationed not only in the United States but also around the world. Anyone interested in the Cold War or espionage or Cold War espionage should read this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Pretty interesting read about the KGB and CIA battles of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, told in memoir form by the former handler of KGB spies Robert Hanssen and Aldritch Ames. Most interesting is the viewpoint of the "enemy" in regards to the spy games the two agencies were involved in -- it helps give a clearer picture of the conflict as a whole, rather than focusing on the propaganda and agenda of one side. The memoirist Victor Cherkashin also offers up some interesting insight on the state of Americ Pretty interesting read about the KGB and CIA battles of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, told in memoir form by the former handler of KGB spies Robert Hanssen and Aldritch Ames. Most interesting is the viewpoint of the "enemy" in regards to the spy games the two agencies were involved in -- it helps give a clearer picture of the conflict as a whole, rather than focusing on the propaganda and agenda of one side. The memoirist Victor Cherkashin also offers up some interesting insight on the state of America's intelligence services as recently as the Bush II administration, and offers his views on what the roles of post-Soviet Russian and US intelligence agencies should take in regards to each other and the world. Mostly though, this is a pretty entertaining and illuminating look into how intelligence and counter-intelligence games are played. I for one never knew that fake tree branches containing listening devices even existed, let alone actually used.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James

    Interesting book, one thing that caught my eye, Aldrich Ames was partly motivated to spy because he was angry how the CIA was lying to Congress about the threat the Soviet Union posed to the US. It did that to get MORE MONEY. Also the author makes the point that most of the spying was just a game of trying to recruit agents to spy on the other side and uncovering "moles" the other side has. The CIA has probably cost over 3 TRILLION dollars in the last 65 years, and we have nothing of value to show Interesting book, one thing that caught my eye, Aldrich Ames was partly motivated to spy because he was angry how the CIA was lying to Congress about the threat the Soviet Union posed to the US. It did that to get MORE MONEY. Also the author makes the point that most of the spying was just a game of trying to recruit agents to spy on the other side and uncovering "moles" the other side has. The CIA has probably cost over 3 TRILLION dollars in the last 65 years, and we have nothing of value to show for it. Russia is not a credible threat to us, or anyone else, WHY ARE WE WASTING MONEY ON THIS GAME??? The author gives brief details of many types of technology each side used. A lot of amazing science/technology here.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zack

    This was quite good. Not quite as good as Oleg Kalugin's Spymaster. Still, worth a read. Lots of interesting lines about who can really be approached to be turned and such.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    4.5/5 An interesting look at the Cold War from the inside of the KGB. Very interesting when paired with other works about the spy game, especially Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joe Chapman

    A must read for any Cold War history enthusiast.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill Tress

    How could this book miss? a KGB officer tells all from the Russian point of view about all of the happenings of the cold war and beyond. Victor Cherkasin after 40 years of work is cynical about the benefits to be derived from the expense of the spy game and this assessment fits right into my belief system. In America we have had the Russian spy, Kim Philby sitting at the top of American intelligence and later Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames on the inside of the FBI and CIA sharing our deepest se How could this book miss? a KGB officer tells all from the Russian point of view about all of the happenings of the cold war and beyond. Victor Cherkasin after 40 years of work is cynical about the benefits to be derived from the expense of the spy game and this assessment fits right into my belief system. In America we have had the Russian spy, Kim Philby sitting at the top of American intelligence and later Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames on the inside of the FBI and CIA sharing our deepest secrets with the Russians. America has many spy's implanted in the Russian society sharing Russia's deepest secrets, so what has been accomplished? The book states unequivocally that Russia was not involved in the assassination of JFK, Russian intelligence saw Lee Harvey Oswald as a kook! yet, the book is silent on Russian theories about that assassination. Reminds me of Sherlock Holmes observation of the barking dog! At the end of this book, Cherkasin, tells us that the American invasion of Iraq, was not about WMD but about Oil! He also states that the CIA was not consulted on the matter and had no blame for providing false information on WMD. This of course, is contrary to the American spin that blames the CIA for a failure in intelligence gathering. On this point, you have to agree with the Russian observation. As Cherkasin states, we had people on the ground identifying sights to be destroyed after and during the invasion, so why wasn't the lack of WMD's identified earlyon? Cherkasin is right, the American people were told a lie by its government. Another interesting point is the stated reason for writing the book. Cherkasin says, that he wrote the book because of the accusations made about him after his retirement. Namely, that he betrayed the mole Aldrich Ames. He denies this yet, contends that it was another Russian spy who betrayed Ames. I have recently finished reading "Circle of Treason" written by CIA officers who claim it was their investigation over a number of years that dug out the mole - Ames, who do you believe? One final thought about this remarkable book, Cherkasin repeatedly talks about his pension, yet, he states in the final analysis that it amounted to practically nothing? Cherkasin while a KGB officer was also a bureaucrat, he took vacations, he talked about his pension, he worked the bureaucracy to get a better apartment for his family, and a dacha for his vacations and retirement. So in many ways, he was just a government employee putting in his 40 years of service. For some reason, and maybe because I put in 32 years of government service and had many of the same thoughts, this resonated with me, maybe Russians and Americans are a lot alike, we just spy on each other! I recommend this book to anyone who likes the genre of spying.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Cherkashin provides an excellent overview of his time in the KGB. He avoids the pitfalls of other intelligence memoirs that try to impress the reader by revealing some profound insight or by inflating their own accomplishments. Cherkashin realizes that it is simply enough for a good memoir to say what happened while providing enough outside context to allow the reader to understand the individual's place in history. One insight of Cherkashin's memoir is that the spy-vs-spy world of the KGB and CI Cherkashin provides an excellent overview of his time in the KGB. He avoids the pitfalls of other intelligence memoirs that try to impress the reader by revealing some profound insight or by inflating their own accomplishments. Cherkashin realizes that it is simply enough for a good memoir to say what happened while providing enough outside context to allow the reader to understand the individual's place in history. One insight of Cherkashin's memoir is that the spy-vs-spy world of the KGB and CIA was very much dictated by realistic assumptions about national and human character. In Cherkashin's account, appealing to ideology was never as successful as simple entrapment or bribing of intelligence officers on either side of the Cold War. Cherkashin also rightly points out that recruiting and running clandestine intelligence officers rarely provides high-level insight (the kind that would shape national-level decision making) into the adversary that a reasonable observer could not otherwise discern. Although Cherkashin does not get into it, what makes a good intelligence service is its ability to process and analyze information from multiple sources to inform decision making. What Cherkashin does provide an example of is how oftentimes petty bureaucratic rivalries lead national-level decision makers to overvalue, dismiss, or make up their own raw information or intelligence judgments. Perhaps the most important lesson of Cherkashin is that an intelligence service, and a country itself, are best served by spies and political leaders who act professionally and according to their values. The Soviet Union ultimately collapsed as the KGB promoted weak leaders and its value system collapsed. At its lowest, the US failed internationally when policy makers ignored intelligence and promoted unprofessional people to high positions. As the US confronts adversaries in the future, its intelligence officers and policy makers should take heed of these lessons.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Pevarnek

    This book does a fantastic job of telling a story of cold war espionage from a very different angle than I've heard before: from a Soviet intelligence officer who still thinks that system was the best one. The majority of the book is him walking through his experience in the KGB and in that talking about some of the more interesting cases (Ames, Hanssen) he worked on. Hearing both his perspective on those cases, as well as the tradecraft involved, was incredibly interesting and well worth the re This book does a fantastic job of telling a story of cold war espionage from a very different angle than I've heard before: from a Soviet intelligence officer who still thinks that system was the best one. The majority of the book is him walking through his experience in the KGB and in that talking about some of the more interesting cases (Ames, Hanssen) he worked on. Hearing both his perspective on those cases, as well as the tradecraft involved, was incredibly interesting and well worth the read. The end of the book was focused on his grievances with the KGB beurocracy and the fall of the Soviet Union and was much less interesting. The most interesting detail of the book to me is the author's perspective on exactly what intelligence was and accomplished. He asserts multiple times that, rather than actually serving the goals of the state, most of what the spy agencies accomplished in the Cold War was really just hunting other spies. He additionally talks about information they get from defectors never as an intelligence success but solely as lucky breaks. I'm still mulling over how much truth there is in either of these assertions, my instinct is that both have some truth but are exaggerated, but it was very interesting hearing those arguments from someone who had been so much on the inside of the intelligence game.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecka Jäger

    Finally- a Russian intelligence officer's view on the matter of international espionage! And this book remains the veiled member of the very few, because the 90's era of openness is gone forever. Of course, a memoir like Victor Cherkashin's is always partial, but so is History herself. His dear enemies from the CIA have published their own memories after retirement, but we in the west are more used to those views. Welcome Cold War 2.0. We'll be seeing many Russian Intelligence Officers in upcomin Finally- a Russian intelligence officer's view on the matter of international espionage! And this book remains the veiled member of the very few, because the 90's era of openness is gone forever. Of course, a memoir like Victor Cherkashin's is always partial, but so is History herself. His dear enemies from the CIA have published their own memories after retirement, but we in the west are more used to those views. Welcome Cold War 2.0. We'll be seeing many Russian Intelligence Officers in upcoming novels and movies. Instead of casting them as the classic Bond villains, I hope that we will see the spirit of C. J. Sansom's Dominion where two counterparts fight bloody- each one believing that he is right. The letters KGB sound sexy and dangerous- ah, the stuff of spy stories. The aura of secret mysticism surrounds the organisation today: the FSB. That's the way the intelligence community likes it. You cannot do that job without secrecy. I love spy novels, as you might have noticed from my list of books and reviews. It's a genre with it's own tropes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Robert Neil Smith

    This is the memoir of the high-ranking KGB officer who recruited Aldridge Ames and Robert Hanssen to spy for the Soviet Union in what turned out to be its waning days. It also covers Cherkashin's whole career, providing useful insight into how espionage worked on many different levels. The operational aspects of Spy Handler are very informative, but I have doubts on most of Cherkashin's commentary. You always need to keep in mind Putin's remark 'once a KGB officer, always a KGB officer', so how m This is the memoir of the high-ranking KGB officer who recruited Aldridge Ames and Robert Hanssen to spy for the Soviet Union in what turned out to be its waning days. It also covers Cherkashin's whole career, providing useful insight into how espionage worked on many different levels. The operational aspects of Spy Handler are very informative, but I have doubts on most of Cherkashin's commentary. You always need to keep in mind Putin's remark 'once a KGB officer, always a KGB officer', so how much can you trust a KGB memoir (without turning into James Angleton!)? I will need to check more detailed biographies of Ames and Hanssen to get a more complete picture - Cherkashin downplays the American investigative role in their captures but that comes across as misinformation. Similarly, his positioning of the KGB as the underdog against the CIA isn't that convincing. Still, this is an excellent read and very useful for further investigation. 8/10.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jim Woolwine

    The author is the KGB agent that, among many, ran Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. A couple of things in the book struck me - despite the fact that the author was a very high ranking KGB agent he could not get good housing. when posted in Moscow he was in a 500m sq. apartment with his wife, his son and his wife, and his daughter. Secondly, Ames and Hanssen greviously depleted the ranks of KGB agents spying in America by revealing the double agents. The Soviets summarily exicuted KGB agents selli The author is the KGB agent that, among many, ran Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. A couple of things in the book struck me - despite the fact that the author was a very high ranking KGB agent he could not get good housing. when posted in Moscow he was in a 500m sq. apartment with his wife, his son and his wife, and his daughter. Secondly, Ames and Hanssen greviously depleted the ranks of KGB agents spying in America by revealing the double agents. The Soviets summarily exicuted KGB agents selling information to CIA or FBI agents. The CIA and FBI missed oh so many clues that Ames and Hanssen were double agents but the culture of the two organizations made it difficult for managers to conceive that an agent would spy for the Soviets.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    I enjoy reading books about Americans who decided to spy against their country and this is told from an interesting perspective, the KBG man who helped runs two of the most dangerous spies against America Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. I think the recruited used in the title is a bit of a misnomer since both Ames and Hansen were walk ins who volunteered their services they were not recruited. Cherkashin is one of the ones who decided that they were legit people with information they wanted not I enjoy reading books about Americans who decided to spy against their country and this is told from an interesting perspective, the KBG man who helped runs two of the most dangerous spies against America Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. I think the recruited used in the title is a bit of a misnomer since both Ames and Hansen were walk ins who volunteered their services they were not recruited. Cherkashin is one of the ones who decided that they were legit people with information they wanted not moles sent by the US. Also has a nice perspective on Cold War spying and the strengths and weakness of both the KGB and CIA/FBI. As he states in the opening of the book this is not James Bond stuff it’s the basics of intelligence gathering and the recruitment of agents.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Harran

    Being that I didn't know anything about the subject, Victor Cherkashin, going into this book I found that I was slowly drawn into his ploys and exploits taking place over 30 years international espionage. This book was sufficiently detailed and vague, broad and deep, to keep a mildly interested person like myself turning the pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John Gunderson

    Great first hand insight into the world of intelligence collection and how it related to politics late in the Cold War. Cherkashin admits that his role in it all wasn’t as exciting as a James Bond movie, but still provides insight that keeps the reader interested in how history played out from a spy’s point of view

  19. 4 out of 5

    Too Many Toys

    An interesting perspective. I read Milt Bearden's book first. While the two followed pretty closely, this gave a different perspective as well as some interesting insights from an insider during the breakup of the Soviet Union. The author did a good job of being thorough without being tedious. While it was not a Tom Clancy novel, it was interesting and writing as a story, not a documentary.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    Some parts of the book provide interesting anecdotes but other parts are simply self serving.

  21. 5 out of 5

    RACHEL E PEACOCK

    Book on Russian-American spying from a Russian insider Good spy book from the Russian & former Soviet point of view. Interesting take on Hanssen & Ames from their spy handler. Book on Russian-American spying from a Russian insider Good spy book from the Russian & former Soviet point of view. Interesting take on Hanssen & Ames from their spy handler.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Very interesting read. It reads almost like a spy thriller, but it’s real. As an American, it’s also interesting to read about these events from another viewpoint; sometimes we can be overly myopic.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    Didn't finish it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Very interesting look at the KGB and the Year of the Spy from the Russian side of the aisle.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Needs an Editor. Author just rambles on anecdote to anecdote with no attempt to tie them together.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jhubin Alaghband

    Good read. Good read. Seemed like the account of an ex KGB director wanting to clear his name of some allegations. Said through a nice story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cody Parkin

    The book has a hidden code in it. Check it out.

  28. 4 out of 5

    QOH

    It's self-serving and biased, but who would have expected otherwise? Until the end (which is muddled) it was a fun read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Clark Goble

    I first became in interested in Cold War era espionage after watching the movie 'Breach' starring Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe. The movie chronicles the true story of the FBI's attempt to bring down Robert Hannsen who is commonly referred to as the worst spy in US History. Hanssen sold US secrets to the Russians for over twenty years and betrayed our country to the tune of billions. "Spy Handler" tells the story of Russian intelligence operative Victor Cherkashin who handled both Hanssen and I first became in interested in Cold War era espionage after watching the movie 'Breach' starring Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe. The movie chronicles the true story of the FBI's attempt to bring down Robert Hannsen who is commonly referred to as the worst spy in US History. Hanssen sold US secrets to the Russians for over twenty years and betrayed our country to the tune of billions. "Spy Handler" tells the story of Russian intelligence operative Victor Cherkashin who handled both Hanssen and and the CIA's Aldrich Ames, who is credited as being the worst spy in that agencies' history. Reading their stories from the 'Soviet perspective' was quite interesting. There should be no mistake, Cherkashin was loyal and dedicated to the USSR. Throughout the course of this book, Cherkashin goes into great detail concerning his 30+ year career serving in the KGB and I found it quite interesting the lengths both the KGB and the CIA would go to during the Cold War to recruit and handle double agents. Cherkashin's story depicts a KGB that is marked by paranoia, back-stabbing, and double-crossing throughout the Cold War. Despite this, he chronicles many successes the agency scored over their western adversaries. The subtitle of this book, however, does seem to be a little misleading. Billed as "the man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames," Cherkashin actually dod no such thing. According to his own story, Ames and Hannsen more or less fell into his lap. Both men were essentially volunteers who approached the KGB offering information in exchange for money. Cherkashin, however, did play a key role in handling Ames and devised strategies for pulling the spy deeper into the game. Cherkashin seemed to play a smaller role in the handling of Hanssen. In fact, the author only discovered the Hanssen's true identity in 2001 after his arrest was made public. The book concludes with the authors thoughts on the role espionage and intelligence should play on the current world stage that should probably be taken into account by the leaders of the CIA and the SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence Agency). I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested the Cold War, however, I must warn that Cherkashin has the tendency to ramble a bit and his story seems a little disjointed as times. If you enjoy this type of stuff, it is certainly worth the read, however, for casual readers there are probably better books out there.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dan Cohen

    Despite the low rating I've given it, I am glad I read this book and I did enjoy it. It was fascinating to read something written by a Soviet believer and the accounts relating to Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen are very interesting. But the book has a plodding style and the last few chapters rather dragged. For much of the time the book reads as an attempt by the author to clear his name and set the record straight. Whilst this is no doubt very important to him, it left me cold. It also seemed Despite the low rating I've given it, I am glad I read this book and I did enjoy it. It was fascinating to read something written by a Soviet believer and the accounts relating to Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen are very interesting. But the book has a plodding style and the last few chapters rather dragged. For much of the time the book reads as an attempt by the author to clear his name and set the record straight. Whilst this is no doubt very important to him, it left me cold. It also seemed a little self-serving - I could have believed it better if the author had not painted a picture of himself as such an up-standing member of Soviet society. This is particularly galling when you remember what a foul organisation the KGB was. Although the author regrets the fact that the Soviet authorities felt the need to execute spies, he seems to have not the slightest sensitivity to the appalling behaviour of the KGB over many decades of brutality, or to their key role in the repression of hundreds of millions of people. And his hypocrisy is stunning. At one point he accuses the US of cynical lies and in practically the next line talks about the KGB's efforts to tell just as cynical lies without a hint of equivalent moral censure. It's worth a read, but I don't feel I have any way of telling which parts are true and which are propaganda so the book is of less value than it might have been.

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