The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Morris (Moe) Berg was a remarkably private (""mysterious"") individual. As a second-string...

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MOE BERG: Athlete, Scholar, Spy

The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Morris (Moe) Berg was a remarkably private (""mysterious"") individual. As a second-string catcher -- nicknamed ""the Professor"" -- he had a lengthy major league career (1923-39) during which he was most appreciated for his advice as a bullpen general. A linguist (magna cum laude, Princeton) and lawyer (Columbia), his baseball days were balanced by philology studies at the Sorbonne and by multilingual diversification into Mandarin and Sanskrit. Berg's language skills and natural secrecy were first utilized for espionage purposes by the State Dept. in the '30's -- the films he took while on a tour of Japan were instrumental in planning General Doolittle's air raids on Tokyo. A major portion of this bio treats Berg's role as an atomic spy in Europe during WW II -- he helped to assess Germany's atomic resources, performing invaluable OSS counterintelligence on the A-bomb for Manhattan Project officials. The former ballplayer was financially troubled and more withdrawn after the war -- as he never discussed his secret missions, it's possible he may have still been doing government work. With such an erudite, sensitive, extremely complex subject -- a man who considered his unread newspapers ""alive"" -- one only wishes there was more information available on this background-dwelling backstop. Truly a switch-hitting man of all seasons. Highly diverting (he'd say Iucundus).

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974