A fluidly written introduction to the responsibilities, structure, and turbulent history of this powerful arm of the Soviet government. Internally, as well as ""in the world of foreign affairs, the KGB is the Soviet Union's dominant instrument,"" but our knowledge of the agency hardly extends beyond the testimony of occasional prisoners and defectors. Russia has had what the author calls ""Organs of St. ate Security"" since the time of Genghis Khan, and their bloody history is clouded by secrecy and disinformation; Yost's narrative consequently contains both lurid passages and, necessarily, plenty of generalization, less understandable are his occasional ironic comments (""Nagy had the radical. . .notion that tire Hungarian people deserved some measure of freedom and happiness""). Yost describes the exploits of the last century's most (in)famous spies, double (and triple) agents and Organ directors; the longstanding rivalry between the KGB and the military Organ, or GRU; and the departments within the modern KGB, as well as Soviet spy recruitment and training methods. Sources of information are seldom acknowledged specifically, but a list of recent books is appended. Index and illustrations not seen. A companion volume to the author's soon-to-be-published The CIA, and slightly more up-to-date than William Corson's The New KGB, an adult title published in 1985.