Passing encounters with the KGB. Though Van Der Rhoer (Deadly Magic) notes at the outset that the state security bureaucracy is the second pillar of power in the USSR (after the Communist Party), he isn't really concerned with internal Soviet politics--or even with the security apparatus. A biographical wrap-up of its leaders--from Cheka-founder Felix Dzerzhinsky to current KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov--is quickly followed by chapters on individual spies, their careers and rates: cases, in every instance, of defection or arrest. One is Alexander Orlov, who helped recruit ""moles"" in Britain in the 1930s and helped suppress left opponents during the Spanish Civil War, only to wind up one of Stalin's potential victims; he escaped, first to Canada and then to the United States, threatening to unveil the Soviet spy network if he should be harmed. (Van Der Rhoer suspects that Orlov either never gave up his politics or was a double agent: he never identified agents like Philby, Burgess, and Maclean to US authorities--the information he gave was highly selective.) Another is Walter Krivitsky, whose duties included organizing the shipment of clandestine arms to Spain during the early period of the Civil War, while the Kremlin feigned neutrality. He, too, wound up on the hit list, and while he also sought asylum in the US, he ended up a suicide. Among the more notorious cases is William Fisher, the English-born spy who collected military intelligence in the US, was caught and later exchanged for U-2 pilot Gary Powers. The others are mostly engaged in collecting bits and pieces of information--whose value Van Der Rhoer doesn't attempt to assess. Not much as sensation or revelation--and the details and petty intrigues grow tedious with repetition.