Deacon offers a secret-service interpretation of history: Czarist rule, Bolshevik upheaval, cold war, but what's the...

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A HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN SECRET SERVICE

Deacon offers a secret-service interpretation of history: Czarist rule, Bolshevik upheaval, cold war, but what's the difference -- labels change but the spy game goes on. In 1907 the Russian Revolution was thwarted; Lenin in exile was depressed; but, according to Deacon, the Bolsheviks, despite appearances, were building ""a kind of shadow secret service which was groomed to take over the Okrana."" Deacon not only accepts the hypothesis that Stalin was an Okrana agent, but suggests that he came to power in order ""to probe the reasons for the failure of Soviet espionage under Comintern direction."" By ""espionage"" Deacon means the ""aggressive espionage"" of the '20's -- otherwise known as international socialism. The secret service of any country is in fact best viewed as a political laboratory; and if the politics are misunderstood or backfire, one is left, like Deacon, with a horror image of weird experiments, uncanny chemicals, and a procession of Jekylls. Deacon is not only wrong about Russian political chemistry from the Czars to the present but also makes wild unsubstantiated factual assertions (e.g., that Felix Dzerzhinski infiltrated the Okhrana circa 1907); and his incompetence becomes malicious when he repeats all the McCarthyite slurs about a ubiquitous Soviet fifth column operating in the U.S.: ""in a country. . .created out of so many races, it was easy to find those who were sufficiently lacking in any conception of patriotism."" Ronald Hingley's by no means flawless The Russian Secret Police (1971) is far more reliable and is a recommended alternative to this phobic nonsense.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Taplinger

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1972