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In 1958 Colonel Powel Monat, chief of the military attache branch of Polish intelligence and former military attache in Washington, defected from Communism and asked for political asylum at the American Embassy in Vienna. But the major portion of his story -- told to John Dille, military editor at Life, concerns his activities as a spy in the U.S. beginning in 1955, when he was in Washington as Polish military, naval and air attache. Along with the other members of his staff and often under the supervision of Russian agents he engaged in such activities as reconnoitering and photographing military installations, acting as a courier -- delivering and receiving information from other agents, purchasing electronic equipment which was shipped behind the Iron Curtain, and engaging talkative Americans connected with ""secret"" projects in discussing their work. Monat says that he and his colleagues were often not sure of the worth of the information they were sending back to Warsaw but that some of their chief sources consisted of the daily newspapers -- particularly the N.Y. Times, technical magazines, reports published about Congressional hearings, tidbits picked up by eavesdropping in the Pentagon and in the U.S. Senate. He discusses the basis of his eventual disillusionment with the Communist system -- the Korean war, Hungary and Poznan, Khruschev's speech denouncing Stalin, and, not least, the very openness, and friendliness of the people he met in the U.S., who once provided him with his undercover material. His book then could probably be used to sustain two contradictory viewpoints: that the American conception of espionage is incredibly naive and that this very naivete works to their own advantage.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1961
Publisher: Harper