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Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

John Earl Haynes
Harvey Klehr
Alexander Vassiliev
Philip Redko
Steven Shabad
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 704
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    This stunning book, based on KGB archives that have never come to light before, provides the most complete account of Soviet espionage in America ever written. In 1993, former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev was permitted unique access to Stalin-era records of Soviet intelligence operations against the United States. Years later, living in Britain, Vassiliev retrieved his extensive notebooks of transcribed documents from Moscow. With these notebooks John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have meticulously constructed a new, sometimes shocking, historical account.

    Along with general insights into espionage tactics and the motives of Americans who spied for Stalin,Spiesresolves specific, long-seething controversies. The book confirms, among many other things, that Alger Hiss cooperated with Soviet intelligence over a long period of years, that journalist I. F. Stone worked on behalf of the KGB in the 1930s, and that Robert Oppenheimer was never recruited by Soviet intelligence.Spiesalso uncovers numerous American spies who were never even under suspicion and satisfyingly identifies the last unaccounted for American nuclear spies. Vassiliev tells the story of the notebooks and his own extraordinary life in a gripping introduction to the volume.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15572-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xx)
    John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  5. Conventions for Nomenclature, Citations, Cover Names, Quotations, and Transliteration
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  6. Introduction How I Came to Write My Notebooks, Discover Alger Hiss, and Lose to His Lawyer
    (pp. xxvii-liv)

    In the summer of 1993, I got a buzz from Yury Kobaladze, press officer of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) of the Russian Federation, at my desk at theKomsomolskaya Pravda, the daily where I worked as a columnist. I was writing mostly on international topics and espionage, and several days earlier I had published a story that mentioned some operations of the Soviet KGB, SVR’s predecessor. Kobaladze invited me to his office at 13 Kolpachny Street, not far from Lubyanka Square, and I gladly accepted. I anticipated some dressing down about my latest article, but it didn’t bother me...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Alger Hiss: Case Closed
    (pp. 1-32)

    Alexander Vassiliev’s notebooks quote KGB reports and cables from the mid-1930s to 1950 that document KGB knowledge of and contacts with Alger Hiss and unequivocally identify Hiss as a long-term espionage source of the KGB’s sister agency, GRU, Soviet military intelligence. Hiss is identified by his real name as well as by cover names, “Jurist,” “Ales,” and “Leonard.” The material fully corroborates the testimony and accounts of Whittaker Chambers, Hede Massing, Noel Field, and others, while offering new details about Hiss’s relationship with Soviet intelligence.

    No individual is a more potent symbol of American collaboration with Soviet intelligence than Alger...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Enormous: The KGB Attack on the Anglo-American Atomic Project
    (pp. 33-144)

    In 1950 Klaus Fuchs, a senior physicist working on the British atomic bomb project, confessed to authorities that he had been a Soviet spy when he worked at Los Alamos in 1944 and 1945 as part of a British contingent assisting the American atomic bomb program, the Manhattan Project. That same year the FBI arrested David Greenglass, who confessed to being a Soviet source when he was at Los Alamos working as a skilled machinist in the workshop that built special components for the implosion-design plutonium bomb. For decades most historians thought that was the end of the story. There...

  9. CHAPTER 3 The Journalist Spies
    (pp. 145-194)

    A 1941 internal KGB summary report broke down the occupations of Americans working for the spy agency in the prior decade. Twenty-two were journalists, a profession outnumbered only by engineers (forty-nine) and dwarfing economists (four) and professors (eight). Unlike engineers, scientists, military personnel, or government officials, journalists rarely had direct access to technical secrets or classified documents, but the espionage enterprise encompasses more than the classic spy who actually steals a document. The KGB recruited journalists in part for their access to inside information and sources on politics and policy, insights into personalities, and confidential and nonpublic information that never...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Infiltration of the U.S. Government
    (pp. 195-292)

    In the late 1940s Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers publicly identified dozens of U.S. government officials as having knowingly assisted Soviet intelligence in the 1930s and early 1940s. Their revelations and subsequent charges by Senator Joseph McCarthy precipitated a bitter and long-standing debate about the extent of Soviet subversion. Chambers and Bentley, however, only knew the half of it. KGB sources of whom they were unaware honeycombed the federal government and its scientific laboratories. But Senator McCarthy’s charges were also wildly off the mark. Very few of the people he accused appeared in KGB documents (or the Venona decryptions), and...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Infiltration of the Office of Strategic Services
    (pp. 293-330)

    The KGB regarded the Office of Strategic Services, America’s World War II intelligence agency, as a prime target and developed an astounding number of sources within it. Documents in Vassiliev’s notebooks contain details about twelve of them. This success was due in part to the vulnerability to infiltration provided by the speed and organizational chaos that attended OSS’s development. Remarkably, the United States did not possess a foreign intelligence service until 1942. Various government agencies carried out foreign intelligence, but their activities were uncoordinated, episodic, and frequently amateurish. The War Department’s Military Intelligence Division focused on battlefield intelligence and security...

  12. CHAPTER 6 The XY Line: Technical, Scientific, and Industrial Espionage
    (pp. 331-392)

    Technical, scientific, and industrial espionage lacks the glamour of diplomatic and political intelligence (atomic espionage excepted). Nonetheless, technical intelligence, called the “XY line” in KGB jargon, was the “meat and potatoes” of KGB work in America. In 1934 Moscow Center reminded its American officers: “‘Nowhere is technology as advanced in every sphere of industry as in A. [America]. The most important thing with regard to the procurement of tech. materials for our industry is that the scale of production in A. has the closest correspondence to our scale of production. This makes tech. intelligence in the USA the main focus...

  13. CHAPTER 7 American Couriers and Support Personnel
    (pp. 393-430)

    Soviet espionage networks in the United States would not have been able to function without the assistance of a number of dedicated support personnel whose role was as essential as that of the sources who actually took documents from the government offices in which they worked or communicated secrets to which they were privy. Once the latter had obtained their information, they had to transmit it to the Soviets. Few of those who obtained government or technical secrets could easily meet with someone readily identified as a Soviet national without exciting suspicion or triggering surveillance. In order to avoid alerting...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Celebrities and Obsessions
    (pp. 431-482)

    The KGB, like any organization, had to make choices about where its assets would be deployed. From time to time it pruned its stable of agents, deactivating those who ceased providing information or whose security became endangered. At times a shortage of KGB officers necessitated breaking contact even with productive sources. But the KGB was also sometimes obsessed with the social status and celebrity connections of some of the agents it recruited and continued to remain in contact with them while nurturing the futile hope that they would produce useful intelligence. Meanwhile, it pursued ideological enemies with a fervor so...

  15. CHAPTER 9 The KGB in America: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Structural Problems
    (pp. 483-540)

    A persistent popular and media myth holds that the KGB was a near superhuman organization, staffed by skilled officers carrying out sophisticated schemes designed by clever Moscow overlords who had a long-standing plan on how to subvert the West. (Historians have been less awed.) In this tabloid version of espionage history, the KGB effortlessly ran rings around American counterintelligence and deftly manipulated its resources to drain American secrets. Its operatives were carefully organized, followed strict guidelines, and carried out their assigned tasks according to a calibrated regimen of sophisticated intelligence tradecraft. Fed by alarmed Westerners eager to emphasize the mortal...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 541-548)

    Espionage is a secretive business. It is rare that the agents engaged in it or the agencies they serve speak honestly and openly about what they have done because the incentives to lie, dissemble, and continue to deceive are so strong for all concerned. The tendency to romanticize sometimes dangerous but usually tedious activities also has fed an insatiable public appetite for fictional accounts of spying. Such literature, even when skillfully executed, often cannot match the oddities of the real world, where the best-laid plans of intelligence agencies and their operatives collide with the idiosyncrasies, strengths, and weaknesses of the...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 549-637)
  18. Index
    (pp. 638-650)