World War II historian Smith (The Ultra-Magic Deals, 1992, etc.) persuasively argues (contrary to the consensus that Stalin...


"SHARING SECRETS WITH STALIN: How the Allies Traded Intelligence, 1941-1945"

World War II historian Smith (The Ultra-Magic Deals, 1992, etc.) persuasively argues (contrary to the consensus that Stalin and his Western allies were standoffish partners) that sharing of wartime intelligence between the Anglo-Americans and Soviets was extensive and that it continued until the very last days of the war. When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union in June 1941, the outlook for Russo-British cooperation seemed inauspicious. After all, Britain had directed an international military campaign against the nascent Soviet regime in the years following the Russian Revolution. The US was so anti-Soviet that it did not recognize the USSR until 1935. Meanwhile Stalin, himself xenophobic, dismissed British warnings of an imminent Nazi invasion as part of a Western plot against Russia. However, Smith shows that despite a mutual abiding mistrust, the ideological adversaries were compelled to share secrets by the exigencies of war and a demand for anti-Nazi intelligence that outstripped the lone resources of the USSR or England. Even before US entry into the war Harry Hopkins, FDR's personal envoy, helped cement a working relationship among the Allies with intelligence sharing and equipment grants. Despite frequent personality clashes with the more secretive Soviets and conflicts over the appropriateness of sharing sensitive data, the Anglo-Americans shared secrets ranging from estimates of German and Japanese war strategy and materiel to intercepts from America's MAGIC program, which read Japanese codes. While the US was warier of Soviet intentions than Britain in the early stages of the partnership, Smith contends, by war's end the US had become an enthusiastic sharer of intelligence and, hoping to involve the Soviet Union in war against Japan, was giving high-level secret information to the Soviets as late as August 1945. Although compelled by lack of access to Soviet files to base his account almost solely on Anglo-American sources, Smith gives a richly detailed and well-researched contribution to the literature on WW II intelligence.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 1996


Page Count: 336

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996