Sergei Tretyakov, the Comrade J of this fascinating book’s title, was Russia’s top spy in America from 1995 to 2000. During his more than 120 hours speaking with author Peter Earley, the New York-based Tretyakov describes exactly how Russian intelligence (the SVR) successfully recruited intelligence sources inside the UN and the US, and used this intelligence to undermine American interests. Tretyakov, for example, tells Earley exactly how the SVR infiltrated the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, created to help the Iraqi people, and stole half a billion dollars from it, money that went directly to Russia’s ruling oligarchy. Tretyakov also recruited UN diplomats from Germany, Turkey, and Sweden to garner secret intelligence that helped damage American interests. Tretyakov ultimately grew disillusioned serving Russia’s corrupt, money-grubbing leadership. He felt his work no longer served the Russian people, but only undemocratic strongmen like Presidents Yeltsin and Putin: “it became immoral to serve them, and I didn’t want to be associated with them.” In 2000, Tretyakov defected to the US, offering thousands of secret Russian documents and the identities of hundreds of previously-unknown Russian intelligence sources. Comrade J‘s primary message is that Russia is not America’s friend, and “is doing everything it can today to undermine and embarrass the US.” Earley’s gripping narrative may be the most absorbing, detailed account ever written about foreign intelligence activities within the US; Comrade J also offers a stunning indictment of the present “thuggish” Russian regime under President Vladimir Putin. –
About the Writer
Chuck Leddy is a member of the National Book Critics Circle who writes frequently about American history. He reviews books regularly for The Boston Globe, as well as Civil War Times and American History magazines. He is a contributing editor for The Writer magazine.