It's spy versus spy in this gripping tale of a massive Moscow -directed intelligence ring functioning in occupied Europe during World War II. With operatives in Belgium, France, and on the German General Staff itself, the ""pianists"" (radio operators) of this ""Red Orchestra"" were able to pass on to Moscow such vital information as Hitler's plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union and for the Battle of Stalingrad. Scooting back and forth between past (1939-48) and present (interviews with participants on both sides) the author, who has written previously on security matters (The Secret of D-Day, 1965), painstakingly reconstructs the methods and memberships of the organization, which included dedicated revolutionaries, carefree adventurers, cooperative French businessmen, German patriots--and their women. Most died at the hands of the genial sadists of the Nazi bureaucracy. Among the survivors: the ""Big Chief"" himself, whose ironic reward was ten years in Lubianka Prison, conferred by his paranoid superiors. While much of this material has been known to espionage scholars, the author's recreation of the huge network is a fine achievement. The story, as the Nazis close in on each spy center in turn, is enormously tense. This is fascinating reading for the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction fan.