SPY TRADER by Craig R. Whitney


Germany's Devil's Advocate and the Darkest Secrets of the Cold War
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 In a Len Deighton novel come to life, Whitney (senior European correspondent for The New York Times) tells the engrossing story of the trade in human lives conducted by cold war adversaries in a divided Berlin. After the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, many tried to escape; of these, many were killed but most were captured--often calling upon the services of East German lawyer Wolfgang Vogel, who quickly became known for winning prisoners their freedom from East German jails, as well as from the country. Beginning with the Rudolf Abel/Francis Gary Powers exchange and peaking with the release of Anatoly Shcharansky, Vogel, working closely with his ``employer,'' the dreaded Stasi, negotiated the release of tens of thousands of political prisoners--but at a price. The Federal Republic of Germany paid out billions of marks over almost three decades, trading spies at border crossings in the dead of night. For his services, Vogel earned hundreds of thousands of marks and gained the respect of Western governments. But, Whitney shows, the lawyer had made a Faustian deal. While saving many East Germans from prison, he also helped bring about the downfall of his government masters, undermining his own future--for each release symbolically chipped away a bit of the Wall, and, in time, the pressure of would-be emigrants overwhelmed the East German government, bringing down Communist Party leader Erich Honecker and then the Wall itself. Some of the credit seems due to Vogel, who negotiated as hard with the Stasi for more releases as he did with the West for more money. Drawing on a great number of interviews, some with Vogel himself, Whitney offers a fascinating new perspective from which to view the rubble of East Germany and the secretive world of cold war spies. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8129-2221-2
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993


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