TECHNO-BANDITS: How the Soviets Are Stealing America's High-Tech Future by Linda; Nick Anning & David Hebditch Melvern

TECHNO-BANDITS: How the Soviets Are Stealing America's High-Tech Future

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This takes some disentangling: a trio of British experts--Melvern is an investigative reporter, formerly with the London Times Insight Team, Hebditch is an authority on electronics technology, Anning is a journalist specializing in Soviet affairs--has looked into the transfer of embargoed US high-technology to the USSR, by middlemen ""techno-bandits"" or plain spies. . . because/although they think high-tech transfer should mostly proceed unimpeded. Or it may be that Melvern et al. got onto the goings-on, and decided that technological leakage was impossible to stop. The result, in either case, is a certain schizophrenia--a scare selling-pitch, a message that leans toward free-exchange-of-knowledge. Indeed, the brief final chapter, on ""The Issues,"" is the book's most distinguished. The book is launched, conversely, in a spy-thriller idiom, with the case of a pseudonymous British techno-bandit (in an account chiefly attributed to three anonymous officials). Most of the content, however, is straightforward information: the nature of US high tech (effectively condensed to nine pages); why the Soviets started and stayed behind (""If it works, leave it alone""), and how they've attempted to catch up (including the recent disclosure that a 1950s US fugitive, a friend of the Rosenbergs, launched the Soviet semi-conductor industry); their specific efforts, since 1975, to overcome particular deficiencies (in the manufacture of integrated circuits and advanced computer systems). Then the spotlight shifts to US efforts to thwart smuggling: the Customs Agency/Commerce Department rivalry, comedy-of-errors foul-ups, front-page controversies--the whole speckled with lots of techno-bandit wizardry and suspense. Ultimately, the paradoxes: how do you embargo ""information""? how can you safeguard ""dual use"" items (military and peaceful)? how do you assure no third-party source for the same item? how do you enforce violations when the businessmen crooks live in un-extradictable paradises? Timely, for sure, and lively--but regrettably two-faced.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1984
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin