AN AGENT IN PLACE by Thomas Whiteside


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Based on a pre-trial interrogation transcript which ran to 3000 pages, and fresh from its three-part appearance in The New Yorker, this is an exceedingly precise and almost phlegmatic account of Colonel Stig Erik Constans Wennerstrom of the Swedish Air Force, said to be Penkovskly's opposite number. He managed with conspicuously inconspicuous ability to operate from 1949 to 1963 as a member of the Soviet Intelligence. Briefly he served as a double agent for the U.S. (a matter of some conjecture and partial official repudiation). He was said to have passed microfilm right on the premises of the Pentagon. An ""agent in place"" is a ""person having an accepted, cleared position in another country"" and strangely enough it was in the '50's, after his connection with the U.S. was discovered by the Russians, that Wennerstrom's value to the Soviet increased. He served them very well particularly during the time he was stationed in Washington (1952-1957), then in Sweden where he really had a disastrous effect in revealing all of his country's defenses to the Russians. Earlier doubts about his activities were dismissed; by 1962 surveillance became stronger; but actually it was the observations of a very noticing housemaid, Mrs. Rosen, which were responsible for his arrest... Always characterized as cool, guarded and aloof, Wennerstrom remains all those things here--a very impersonal figure, but the dossier, full of procedural and technical detail, is interesting. Even more interesting as a contrast and contradiction to the blazingly hot cold spies who have been in vogue.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1966
Publisher: Viking