MOLE by William Hood


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The inside, CIA-approved story of Major Pyotr Popov, first US-recruited mole in Soviet Intelligence--by the retired executive officer of the Agency's Counter Intelligence Staff. As a bonus, Hood provides some splendid background on the birth and growth of the rival CIA-KGB networks. The setting is the Vienna of The Third Man--an open city occupied by the Four Powers, a clandestine city where ""broad daylight"" never happens. Major Popov, Soviet military intelligence case officer on the Yugoslav line, contacts American intelligence with an offer to sell the new tables of organization of a Soviet Armored Division for $120. He needs the money, it turns out, to cover some missing funds he's spent supporting his stable of underpaid agents. For the next seven years he works under Gregory Comnin, a CIA senior case officer fluent in Russian, and develops great affection for him. Meanwhile he lives in a shabby hotel room with his wife and four children--until he's transferred to Schwerin and promoted to being the deep-cover head of the ""illegals section,"" which makes him one of the greatest CIA coups ever. (Illegals are Soviet spies who are illegal aliens in foreign countries and have fake citizenship papers; Popov helps get them ""in place."") Why is Popov selling secrets? Because he's a peasant who never wore shoes until he was 13, and hates the Politburo's barbarism toward peasants. (He's spellbound by Domnin's copies of American Farm Journal.) But when Popov places ""illegal"" Margarita Tairova in Manhattan, where she's meeting her husband, and they spot their FBI surveillance team and flee back to Moscow, Popov is recalled--he's the most obvious one to have betrayed them. After breaking him down, the KGB attempts to turn him into a double agent: and, failing, has him executed. Authentic tradecraft from a pro.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1982
Publisher: Norton