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In Stalin's Secret Service [Paperback]

By W. G. Krivitsky & Sam Tanenhaus (Introduction by)
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Item description for In Stalin's Secret Service by W. G. Krivitsky & Sam Tanenhaus...

Walter G. Krivitsky was the first top Soviet intelligence official to defect and reveal his secrets in 1939. In England in 1940, he came very close to unmasking the Soviet network inside Britain’s intelligence services known as the “Cambridge 5” led by Kim Philby. Krivitsky thought that he would be safe in America, but he was unable to shed the dangerous secrets that he took with him. Stalin had to act quickly to protect his vast espionage network and there would be no escape from the Soviet assassination squad. In Stalin’s Secret Service is like a spy thriller with an unwritten ending, because the author couldn’t imagine his own death.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   340
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2008
Publisher   Enigma Books
ISBN  1929631383  
ISBN13  9781929631384  

Availability  0 units.

More About W. G. Krivitsky & Sam Tanenhaus

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Political
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > Intelligence & Espionage
4Books > Subjects > History > World > General

Reviews - What do customers think about In Stalin's Secret Service?

Required Reading for Communist Deniers.  Jul 2, 2004
If I could I'd see every person who laments "US Triumphalism" regarding The Cold War be forced to read Krivitsky's memoir of his years in the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence). Those who believe that America was too worried about communism in the thirties and forties would be wise to examine "In Stalin's Secret Service" for they'll discover that our intelligence bureaus were clueless as to the threat around us. They denied that there even was such a thing as Krivitsky's position in USSR. Krivitsky used to see NKVD agents walking around New York City and our authorities were none the wiser. Once you're finished with this tale, you'll have new sympathy for Whittaker Chambers who said after he left the communists that he "had exchanged being on the winning side for being on the losing side." With as rife as we were with communist spies in the middle part of the twentieth century, its a miracle that we won any wars. As a bonus, the spy stories are first rate.
Killed in Washington  Jul 21, 2003
Krivitsky's book is an intelligence classic and Raymond W. Leonard wrote a perfect and most comprehensive review, not missing any detail.

Maybe, except one or two. Krivitsky warned many times that the NKVD agents were after him and was still neglected by the FBI who did not stir a finger to protect him. The Bureau oficially refused to conduct an investigation after he was shot at the Bellevue Hotel in Washington and only secretly J.Edgar Hoover gave orders to his agents to look into the matter. That was one of the most shameful cases in his career. Then followed Dusko Popov and Peter Popov.

Concerning "the highest ranked publicly identified GRU", as Mr Leonard notes, Isaac Don Levine, who was ghostwriting Krivitsky's book, dramatically exaggerated his rank: in fact, he was Senior Lieutenant of State Security, which was equal to the Red Army Captain. To date, the highest ranked GRU defector is probably Lt.Col. Alexander Krapiva, who defected in Vienna in 1991. Among those, who worked as agents in place, there were, of course, Oleg Penkovsky and Gen.Polyakov, both GRU.

Again, I want to stress, that the review of Mr Raymond W. Leonard is most brilliant and knowledgeable.

The First and the Best  Nov 20, 2001
Walter Krivitsky served most of his career not in the OGPU/NKVD but in the Red Army Intelligence directorate, known during most of his tenure there as the "Fourth Department" (i.e., Fourth Departmnent of the Red Army Staff). He only came to the OGPU in the late 1930s, during Stalin's purge of the Red Army. Shortly thereafter, he defected to the West, where he was ignored by British and American counterintelligence until he wrote a series of articles on Stalin's foreign policy in 1938 for the Saturday Evening Post in which he predicted that Stalin and Hitler would negotiate some sort of alliance (this is still when Stalin appeared to much of the world as the leader of the anti-Fascist forces of the "Popular Front"). After that, "experts" in London and Washington finally got around to de-briefing him, and he even testified before the U.S. Congress before his mysterious death. No one really undersood what he had to say, however, and even today there are many (including scholars) who fail to comprehend the diference between Red Army intelligence and the secret state police. Krivistky's information should have been a "wake-up" call for western counterintelligence. Among other things, in the course of his debriefings he provided clues about an OGPU ring in Cambridge (the Blunt-Philby network--in fact, acting on the suspicion that he had tipped MI5 about their most valuable asset in the UK, the NKVD actually launched a full-scale investigation of Krivitsky in 1943--three years after his death!--whom they described as "the traiter from Red Army intelligence"), and offered comprehensive details about Fourth Department and OGPU operations in the U.S., including info. about a Fourth Dept. network with access to the State Department which later was corroborated by Elizbeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers.

Krivitsky got his start in the Comintern and was involved in a wide range of espionage and subversion. The previous reviewer is simply incorrect about this. A careful reading of his memoirs reveals fascinating details about Soviet intelligence operations throughout Europe, including attempts to topple governments in Germany, Bulgaria, and Estonia through outright insurrection. Krivitsky also relates insider information about early Soviet signals intelligence, and top-secret details about Japanese intentions in the Far East. He was privy to Stalin's reaction to Hitler's purge of the SA. Krivitsky offers insights into a wide range of additional topics, including the role of Comintern and Red Army intelligence operatives in the Russian Civil War and war with Poland; the organizational development of Red Army intelligence; key personalities like Yan Berzin and Otto Kuussinen; the infighting between Red Army intelligence and the secret police (Cheka-OGPU-NKVD); the struggle for control of the CPSU leadership after Lenin's death; the role of Soviet intelligence in the Spanish Civil War; the origins of the purges; and even the value of American passports for covert operations.

Krivitsky remains to date the highest ranked publically indentified GRU (as Soviet/Russian military intelligence is known today)defector in history, and he was also one of the first. His insights and details have been confirmed by dozens of other accounts and sources down through the decades.

Familiarity with the historical context of his work enhances its value, but anyone with an interest in Soviet espionage (which in the case of the Soviet Union is inseparable from issues of state policy and politics--indeed, the more "sensational" works which focus exclusively on "spy stories" inevitably miss the larger point) should find Krivitsky's memoirs provocative, entertaining and rewarding.

Little espionage, lots of Stalin  Jan 19, 2001
The blurb on the dustjacket would have you believe this is a book about Soviet espionage. Not so. Krivitsky was a spy who worked for the OGPU, but the little he mentions of his job is just to prove a point. Partly it is about Krivitsky's experience during the Great Terror, and what happened to friends and associates. Mostly it is kind of a warning to America that the Soviet Union wasn't the Socialist paradise it seemed. This book was originally published in 1941, and 2 years before it was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, so the style of the articles smacks more of "current affairs" than a memoir. It was meant as more of a wake up call to Americans who thought that the Soviets were always enemies of Hitler (not true when he wrote it), helped the republicans in Spain, and that the Great Terror was just propaganda.

So, if you liked Robert Conquest's The Great Terror or are interested in Stalinist Russia I would recommend this book to you. If you were like me and are interested in something of a more espionage bent, look elsewhere.


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