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Spies Beneath Berlin [Hardcover]

By David Stafford (Author)
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Item description for Spies Beneath Berlin by David Stafford...

Interest in the CIA and world intelligence operations is higher than it has been in years. In Spies Beneath Berlin, David Stafford---whom the New York Times Book Review calls "a superb researcher who has a feel for when 'secret' meant 'significant' and when it did not,"---tells the fascinating, in-depth account of one of the most audacious and intriguing covert operations of the Cold War: Operation Stopwatch/Gold.

Called by CIA chief Allen Dulles, "one of the most valuable and daring projects ever undertaken," Operation Stopwatch/Gold was carried out from a secret tunnel half a mile long under the Russian sector of Cold War Berlin as, for more than a year, the CIA tuned into German Red Army intelligence. This was an almost impossible trick: apart from the technical wizardry needed, any noise or vibration could have given the game away. Indeed, when snow fell, panic measures were suddenly needed to prevent it thawing in a tell-tale line leading to the target building. An added layer of complexity comes from the fact that Stopwatch/Gold was a joint CIA/MI6 project, and after Burgess and Maclean, it was clear that truth, even between allies, was dangerous. And indeed, there was a mole in the British secret services, thus the KGB knew about the tunnel even before it was built---yet the Germans couldn't let on that they knew about the tunnel, which would have jeopardized the position of their prized mole. Whether or not Operation Stopwatch/Gold was a success has been a point of contention over the years, as new information about KGB mole George Blake and the Cold War has been uncovered. Now, for the first time, using eyewitness interviews and the full range of source material---from KGB files to CIA documents---Stafford reveals the thrillingly complex story of this operation.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Overlook Hardcover
Pages   222
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.44" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.91"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 27, 2003
Publisher   Overlook Hardcover
ISBN  1585673617  
ISBN13  9781585673612  

Availability  0 units.

More About David Stafford

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! David Stafford, a former diplomat and Project Director of the Centre for Second World War Studies at the University of Edinburgh, is the author of "Spies Beneath Berlin" and "Secret Agent," published by Overlook.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Africa > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > England > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Germany > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > Intelligence & Espionage
5Books > Subjects > History > World > General
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > International > Relations
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > True Stories > Espionage

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Reviews - What do customers think about Spies Beneath Berlin?

The Great Berlin Tunnel Mystery  Aug 14, 2005
As one who, as a young soldier trained in the Army Language School at the Presidio of Monterey, actually monitored the Soviet telephone lines at the Berlin site between early October 1955 and March 1956, I can vouch for the accuracy of David Stafford's book. Since I was only a lowly US Army corporal, albeit assigned to alert my superiors of any information that could not wait to be processed in either London or Washington, I knew nothing of the background of the project or of Blake's having compromised it. I was the only enlisted man monitoring the telephone lines, because of the shortage of qualified agents. All the other guys were either Naval officers, CIA or SIS agents. I do remember that, not long after I arrived at the site, the first snow fall revealed a long melted strip taking off from the warehouse-tunnel building and pointing into the East Zone. There was lots of excitement. London was called and engineers flew in that day to install equipment to take the heat out of the tunnel. Fortunately, that day was also foggy, so that we relaxed after the snow continued to fall and cover the arrow-like bare spot marking the tunnel. Little did we know that the tunnel was no secret to the Soviets from the beginning. It was one of my sons, who, many years later made me aware that the project had been compromized from the beginning. Upon learning that, I began to wonder if any of us on that front line listening post might have been reverse programmed by the Soviet Secret Police and their subsequently discovered psy-war technologies. Incidentally, I got to know those secret police guys pretty well. They tried to be cagey by never finishing a conversation on a particular line. No matter. Since we were monitoring all the lines and recording them, we got everything. It was not hard to patch all those fractured KGB conversation fragments together into a sensible communication. They spoke differently than the Red Army guys, whether they were NCO or top military brass, such as Marshal Gretchko or General Markov. Nor did they ever identify themselves as did the Army guys. We knew who they were anyway. It was no doubt the most exciting and intense experience of my young life.

Eugene Kovalenko, Ph.D.
Los Alamos, NM
Spies Beneath Berlin - review  Apr 26, 2005
Review by Christopher J. D'Ambola of Spies Beneath Berlin by David Stafford (New York: The Overlook Press, 2002).

Over the years, American pop-culture has become saturated with the ethos of espionage through James Bond movies, Tom Clancy novels, and even interactive video games based off of the prior two. However, the aura surrounding espionage has become so fantastical over the years that it has separated itself from reality. Espionage to the masses can only be found in the fiction section. In Spies Beneath Berlin, David Stafford manages to wield a similarly fantastical story about espionage in the cold war with the ability to stock it on the non-fiction shelves.
You would expect a non-fiction historical novel to begin some sort of history to the subject or dry anecdote of the instance at hand. However, Stafford brilliantly initiates the text with a chillingly suspenseful clip that the public would demand of any spy story. The perfectly constructed structure of the book flows off from the dumbfounded discovery of intelligence tunnels under Berlin, to a detailed history of mid 20th century espionage (including the Vienna Tunnel and the Venona Project), and then back into the construction of the plans from step one.
Stafford was committed to conveying three main ideals surrounding the chronicle. The first is the absolute disarray of the United States CIA and British SIS scrambling for intelligence. The atmosphere of Western Europe for years after the war was tense to the last bead of sweat. The clamor for good, solid intelligence that had not been fabricated and was able to be broken was vital to preventing World War III.
The second aspect was the reality of the intensity surrounding the project. Stafford details the scrambling recruitment of agents and double agents across the globe by all sides. Stafford achieves his success when you outwardly cry for the US not to trust double agent George Blake like you would shout on the edge of your seat for the defenseless girl not to walk up the stairs alone in a horror flick. He brings a raw realism to the frontlines with descriptions such as CIA special ops agent Bill Harvey as "an overweight, hard-drinking ex-lawyer from a small town in Indiana" (Stafford 51). He wants there to be no confusion that these are real men conducting these high security deals. There was an obvious effort to track down even the smallest of players, such as a female employee of a highly trafficked mailroom whose identity to this day remains within the utmost secrecy.
The third and most emphasized point Stafford makes is the ambiguity of the success of the project, titled Operation Stopwatch/Gold (a combination of code names from the CIA and SIS respectively). Stafford manages to take the reader through both sides of the story at the same time with little or no confusion. The outwardly complex story manages to flow coherently under Stafford's pen as the story culminates to the actual commencement of operation Stopwatch/Gold exactly midway through the book.
The feud over whether or not the tunnel was successful, if the Soviets fed false information through the tubes they "knew" were being tapped, or if the huge risk was just an even larger waste of time will be muddled over by historians till the end of time. Stafford takes a step back at the conclusion of the text to account for all theories and retrospectives, all culminating to the bold fact that no one may ever know. However, as he stated in beginning of the book, Stafford revisits the goal of the tunnel which was to prevent war on a massive scale. While the details may never be completely sorted, Stafford affirms that since there was no resulting nuclear war, the tunnel will always be thought of as more of a success than not.

Christopher J. D'Ambola
Fairleigh Dickinson University

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