THE STORM BIRDS: Soviet Postwar Defectors by Gordon Brook-Shepherd

THE STORM BIRDS: Soviet Postwar Defectors

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1977, Brook-Shepherd (Archduke of Sarajevo; November 1918, etc.) wrote The Storm Petrels, exploring the world of pre-WW II Soviet defections. Now, he brings his story up to date with a look at postwar defectors. Brook-Shepherd is a deft storyteller, and here he dramatically profiles a dozen of the approximately 40 high-level Soviet KGB or military-intelligence officials who have sought asylum in the West. Punctuating his vignettes with mysterious chapter titles (""The Dark Messenger,"" ""Bone in the Throat,"" ""The Wrecker,"" etc.), Brook-Shepherd details for example, the case of Igor Gouzenko, who, amazed by contrasts between the commoners' lots in the West and back home, decided to defect--only to find that the western press would not be a willing accomplice, unaccustomed as it was to defectors (a fairly new breed after the war). Thanks to a pattern that most postwar defectors adhered to (secreting a vast array of classified documents to convince western authorities of their sincerity), American and Canadian officials soon realized the importance of Gouzenko's defection, with ramifications for the protection of the atomic secret. Brook-Shepherd's narrative abounds with stories such as that of British traitor Kim Philby arranging to have himself assigned to a foreign location in order to protect his cover; of a would-be Soviet assassin knocking on the door of his intended victim, an important defector in Frankfurt, and introducing himself as the man's disillusioned assassin seeking the defector's aid to himself defect; and of Kim Philby managing to block a high-level intelligence paper from reaching Churchill that outlined with incredible accuracy the actual course of Soviet postwar diplomacy (""perhaps the greatest single blow Philby dealt to the West""). Solid espionage history, told with flair.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson