Book: The Spy and the Traitor
Aug 18, 2020
“But, for all the bluster and fakery, the KGB leadership knew the truth: it had held the most significant spy of the Cold War in its grasp, and then let him slip through its fingers.”
The Spy and the Traitor embodies why I love reading. It is an action movie told through words, and I could not put it down. There are secret drops, radioactive dust, perilous escapes across hostile borders and, best of all, it’s completely true.
Read this if you want to be entertained.
“There is no such thing as a former KGB man,” the former KGB officer Vladimir Putin once said.
The institute provided instruction in fifty-six languages, more than any other university in the world.
Soviet and Western intelligence services used the same method for choosing a pseudonym—it should be close to the real name, with the same initial letter, because that way if a person addressed you by your real name, someone who only knew you by your spy name might well assume he or she had misheard.
There was calculation as well as control in this: a married KGB officer was considered less likely to defect while abroad, since his wife and family could be held as hostages.
Richard Bromhead was one of those Englishmen who put a great deal of effort into appearing to be a lot stupider than they really are.
Whenever this man was followed into a particular Copenhagen department store, Clausen would commandeer the loudspeaker system and announce: “Would Mr. Bratsov of KGB Ltd. please come to the information desk.” After the third such summons, the KGB sent Bratsov back to Moscow.
For many years, the KGB used the acronym MICE to identify the four mainsprings of spying: Money, Ideology, Coercion, and Ego.
Opening a parcel marked as diplomatic luggage was technically a violation of the Vienna Convention.
Born in River Falls, Wisconsin, in 1941, he had a 1950s childhood that looked like the sort of idyllic suburban dream depicted on cereal boxes, concealing its share of depression, alcoholism, and quiet despair.
In a craven and hierarchical organization, the only thing more dangerous than revealing your own ignorance is to draw attention to the stupidity of the boss.
The authorized history of MI5 describes ABLE ARCHER as the “most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.”
Politicians treasure classified information because it is secret, which does not necessarily render it more reliable than openly accessible information, and frequently makes it less so.
Spies usually furnish facts, leaving the recipient to analyze them; with his unique perspective, Gordievsky was able to interpret, for the West, what the KGB was thinking, hoping, and fearing.
He told himself he had no choice, which is what we all tell ourselves when forced to make a terrible choice.
A devout Catholic and a spiritual man, Ascot thought: “We are on a line and we are committed to it—there is only one line and that’s the one we’ve got to go on.”
But, for all the bluster and fakery, the KGB leadership knew the truth: it had held the most significant spy of the Cold War in its grasp, and then let him slip through its fingers.
As the afterlives of so many spies attest, espionage extracts a heavy price.
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