Friday, July 3, 2015

Spymaster: Startling Cold War Revelations of a Soviet KGB Chief by Tennent H. Bagley

Spymaster by Tennent H. Bagley -296 pages

The author is a retired C.I.A. officer who had the opportunity to become friends with and write this book with a former Soviet opponent from the KGB.  That opponent, Sergey Kondrashev, began his intelligence career in the late 1940s and became Deputy Chief of Foreign Intelligence before his retirement after the Soviet Union dissolved.  Kondrashev wished to publish his memoir in Russia, but the Putin regime prohibited it, so Bagley published this book in the U.S. with Kondrashev’s permission. Kondrashev gained entry into intelligence due to his foreign language skills and soon realized he was part of a tryrannical system and barely survived Stalin’s final purges. His book provides a rare insider’s account of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and the Prague Spring of 1968. (Soviet authorities were surprisingly ambivalent about using force in these episodes.) It also details the final disposal of Hitler’s remains, and how effectively KGB disinformation could influence public opinion to weaken western resolve or sow discord among western allies.  Kondrashev was an intelligent and patriotic man whose fascinating career is also a sad example of how a decent man was knowingly a tool of repression.  

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