SPIES by Ernest Volkman

SPIES

The Secret Agents Who Changed the Course of History

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Once-over-lightly profiles of more than two score spies, code- breakers, defectors, moles, and saboteurs who've engaged in the intelligence trade during the 20th century. While the list of men and women in the author's gallery of rogues is somewhat arbitrary, it affords a representative sampling of those whose covert activities ``directly affected the fate of empires, nations, or history itself.'' For example, Volkman (Secret Intelligence, 1989; The Heist, 1986, etc.) offers brief, authoritative dossiers on such storied figures as Anthony Blunt, Whittaker Chambers, Eric Erickson (the so-called counterfeit traitor), Klaus Fuchs, Igor Gouzenko, Oleg Penkovsky, H.A.R. (Kim) Philby, Richard Sorge, Herbert Yardley, and Margareta Zelle (better known as Mata Hari). He also reviews the exploits of less familiar operatives, including George Blake (the original Manchurian candidate), Eliyahu Cohen (Israel's short-lived man in Damascus), Leiba Domb (conductor of WW II's Red Orchestra), Rudolf Roessler (aka Luey, for his Lucerne base), and Wilhelm Wassmuss (the German Lawrence). Covered as well are the coldblooded organization-men who ran whole services or significant networks--the likes of Lavreati Beria (KGB), Claude Dansey (MI6's Z Ring), Reinhard Heydrich (SD), Gabor Peter (the Stalinist head of Hungry's secret police), K'ang Sheng (Mao's security chief), Gestapo boss Heinrich Mueller (who may have gone over to the Soviets just before V-E Day), intrepid William Stephenson (Winston Churchill's favorite spook), and the shadowy Markus Wolf (East Germany's HVA). Last but not least, the author focuses on literary lights who did undercover work at some point in their careers--Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Somerset Maugham. Cloak-and-dagger buffs may quarrel about their favorite omissions, but Volkman's short-take files afford general readers an consistently absorbing and informative introduction to key players in the espionage game. (Illustrations throughout)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-471-55714-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1994




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