HIGH TREASON: Revelations of a Double Agent by Vladimir & Umberto Tosi Sakharov

HIGH TREASON: Revelations of a Double Agent

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I was first influenced to become a U.S. sympathizer by Vaughn Monroe,"" explains Russian defector Sakharov (no relation) in this tale of a jaded Soviet youth. The son of a privileged Soviet bigwig, Sakharov grew up with such status symbols as a 19-inch TV set, an RCA phonograph, and an abundance of American records; ""Just as French acculturation was favored in Czarist times,"" he writes, ""my intimate knowledge of American things set me a notch above everyone in my social set""--this in the Stalinist '50s. By age 14, he'd set his sights on a life of adventure. First, he had to follow in his father's footsteps and enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs--helped en route by a Parker fountain pen and a cheap coat from Korvette's. He and his fun-loving cronies, Sakharov notes, weren't really dissidents or pro-West politically: they just didn't care about politics. He emphasizes the fact that Russian youth are trained to become informers, or stukachi; the result in his case, was bland skepticism. Facing the MFA screening board, he simply lied to every question put to him--and passed the oral exam with flying colors. Then, slated for service in Southeast Asia, he wangled a transfer to Mideast Studies--and, prospectively, ""a comfortable slot in some Arab embassy where my English would be a necessity."" He wound up in North Yemen, where the U.S., the USSR, and China were vying for control. It was there, after being forced to watch KGB men torture a pro-Chinese Yemeni, that Sakharov was ""turned"" by the CIA. After passing Soviet secrets from diplomatic posts in North Yemen and Kuwait, Sakharov had to make a getaway to avoid detection. Not an ingratiating story, but in some respects a revealing one.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1980
Publisher: Putnam