The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb [NOOK Book]

Overview

In the history of Soviet espionage in America, few people figure more crucially than Harry Gold. A Russian Jewish immigrant who spied for the Soviets from 1935 until 1950, Gold was an accomplished industrial and military espionage agent. He was assigned to be physicist Klaus Fuchs’s “handler” and ultimately conveyed sheaves of stolen information about the Manhattan Project from Los Alamos to Russian agents. He is literally the man who gave the USSR the plans for the atom bomb. The subject of the most intensive ...

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The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb

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Overview

In the history of Soviet espionage in America, few people figure more crucially than Harry Gold. A Russian Jewish immigrant who spied for the Soviets from 1935 until 1950, Gold was an accomplished industrial and military espionage agent. He was assigned to be physicist Klaus Fuchs’s “handler” and ultimately conveyed sheaves of stolen information about the Manhattan Project from Los Alamos to Russian agents. He is literally the man who gave the USSR the plans for the atom bomb. The subject of the most intensive public manhunt in the history of the FBI, Gold was arrested in May 1950. His confession revealed scores of contacts, and his testimony in the trial of the Rosenbergs proved pivotal. Yet among his co-workers, fellow prisoners at Lewisburg Penitentiary, and even those in the FBI, Gold earned respect, admiration, and affection.

In The Invisible Harry Gold, journalist and historian Allen Hornblum paints a surprising portrait of this notorious yet unknown figure. Through interviews with many individuals who knew Gold and years of research into primary documents, Hornblum has produced a gripping account of how a fundamentally decent and well-intentioned man helped commit the greatest scientific theft of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

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It would be impossible to write a history of the Cold War without mentioning Harry Gold. After all, this compulsive, eccentric chemist was the courier who actually delivered the secrets of the A-Bomb to the Russians. That said, all the books I've read over the past several decades on this period have relegated Gold to relatively insignificant walk-on parts. In some ways, that seemed inevitable: Described by one witness as "a pudgy, nervous little man" and by others as essentially nondescript, he was neither charismatic nor a Communist zealot. In fact, he hadn't sought his mostly non-paying job as a spy carrier and during much of his 15-year (1935-1950) service, he longed for the days when he could lead a normal life. Allen Hornblum's life of Gold presents this mild-mannered science nerd as too vulnerable to fit snuggly into any ideologue's pet stereotype. This stoop-shouldered Jewish immigrant was technically a snitch, but more essentially, he was a hapless pawn in a conspiracy that cost him 15 years of his freedom, a happy life, and quite possibly a marriage. In ways, it's a wonder that 38 years after his death, thanks to this book, we're just being to think of him as human.

Publishers Weekly
Although labeled a "master Soviet spy," Harry Gold (1910-1972) was never a Communist but an often reluctant courier who carried documents from spies to his Soviet handler. Journalist Hornblum (Sentenced to Science) has absorbed masses of documents and interviewed survivors to paint a vivid picture of a sad yet oddly likable figure. Feeling indebted to a Communist friend who found him a job at a sugar refinery during the Depression, Gold--extraordinarily generous and eager to please--agreed at first to provide the Soviets with information from the refinery on modern industrial processes. Then, for 15 years, though doubting the Soviet project, he performed tedious, unpaid assignments including carrying packages from Manhattan Project physicist-spy Klaus Fuchs to Soviet agents in New York. As enigmatic as his reasons for spying were his reasons for confessing when arrested in 1950. Gold named names, devastating Soviet espionage in America and leading to many convictions and, most notably, to the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But Gold's confession did not keep him from serving 15 years in prison. Gold is now obscure, but Hornblum's biography does justice to this mysterious man and recreates a bizarre era when communism was a national obsession. (Sept.)
Jewish Exponent

"Astonishing. . . . The Invisible Harry Gold now joins other groundbreaking works published in the last 40 years that have described how far certain Americans. . . would go to betray their country. The story still has the power to shock."--Robert Leiter, Jewish Exponent

— Robert Leiter

Wall Street Journal

"A welcome corrective. . . . Hornblum presents us with a balanced portrait, tracing Gold''s hardscrabble young life, his slow entanglement with the Soviet espionage network and the many unhappy years he spent working on Moscow''s behalf. . . . [A] finely crafted biography."--Michael Ybarra, Wall Street Journal

— Michael Ybarra

The Weekly Standard

"A riveting page-turner."--Ron Radosh, The Weekly Standard

— Ron Radosh

The Buffalo Jewish Review

"[A] fascinating psychological portrait."—Morton I. Teicher, The Buffalo Jewish Review

— Morton I. Teicher

Association of College & Research Libraries

"Hornblum goes into fascinating detail about Gold''s motives, activities, relationships with his family, arrest, imprisonment, and post-prison life as a respected clinical chemist."—George M. Eberhart, Association of College & Research Libraries

— George M. Eberhart

The Jewish Chronicle

"[A] fascinating psychological portrait. . . . Hornblum has succeeded fully in humanizing the subject of his perceptive biography."—Morton I. Teicher, The Jewish Chronicle

— Morton I. Teicher

The Weekly Standard - Ron Radosh
"A riveting page-turner."—Ron Radosh, The Weekly Standard
Wall Street Journal - Michael Ybarra
"A welcome corrective. . . . Hornblum presents us with a balanced portrait, tracing Gold's hardscrabble young life, his slow entanglement with the Soviet espionage network and the many unhappy years he spent working on Moscow's behalf. . . . [A] finely crafted biography."—Michael Ybarra, Wall Street Journal
Jewish Exponent - Robert Leiter
"Astonishing. . . . The Invisible Harry Gold now joins other groundbreaking works published in the last 40 years that have described how far certain Americans. . . would go to betray their country. The story still has the power to shock."—Robert Leiter, Jewish Exponent
The Buffalo Jewish Review - Morton I. Teicher
"[A] fascinating psychological portrait. . . . Hornblum has succeeded fully in humanizing the subject of his perceptive biography."—Morton I. Teicher, The Jewish Chronicle
The Weekly Standard - Ronald Radosh
"Allen Hornblum has succeeded in writing a critical study of a man for whom one cannot help but feel sympathy."—Ronald Radosh, The Weekly Standard
Association of College & Research Libraries - George M. Eberhart
"Hornblum goes into fascinating detail about Gold's motives, activities, relationships with his family, arrest, imprisonment, and post-prison life as a respected clinical chemist."—George M. Eberhart, Association of College & Research Libraries
Jerusalem Report - Matt Nesvisky
"This is one riveting biography."—Matt Nesvisky, Jerusalem Report
Journal of Cold War Studies - Mary Kathryn Barbier
"[A]n exhaustive analysis of Gold, his life, and his actions."—Mary Kathryn Barbier, Journal of Cold War Studies
Library Journal
The stealing of the secret of the atomic bomb by the Soviets during World War II has been defined as one of the major crimes of the 20th century. Who was the courier who conveyed the information? Harry Gold, a Jewish immigrant of Russian background, who was a quiet industrial chemist in Philadelphia. He passed documents to his Soviet controllers taken from the Manhattan Project by U.S.-based physicist Klaus Fuchs. When he was arrested in May 1950, Gold confessed and helped convict the Rosenbergs for their part in the operation. He later came to regret his betrayal of America. Through interviews and primary-source research, Hornblum (Confessions of a Second Story Man) presents the fascinating details of how this poorly paid nonprofessional performed so well and of the actions of desperate Communist sympathizers who heaped ridicule upon Gold's revelations of extensive Soviet espionage networks. Readers should also look at Katherine A.S. Sibley's Red Spies in America: Stolen Secrets and the Dawn of the Cold War. VERDICT A well-documented, accessible, and involving story, recommended to specialists as well as interested general readers.—Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300156782
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Allen M. Hornblum has been executive director of Americans for Democratic Action, chief of staff of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, and a college lecturer. His previous books include Sentenced to Science, Acres of Skin, and Confessions of a Second Story Man. He lives in Philadelphia.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2010

    Wow...Why haven't I heard of this guy?

    I couldn't put this book down! Harry Gold is a fascinating character and one of the most important in the world of Soviet espionage in the United States...so why have we heard so little about him? I originally picked up the book because Harry is from my old neighborhood of South Philadelphia and I couldn't believe we had cultivated such a notorious spy. Harry was a strange little man caught up in his family's struggle to survive and his own social ineptitude. The author gives a detailed description of the hard life most immigrants faced in Industrial Philadelphia from the beginning of the 20th century through the depression and into the 50s and 60s. The author illustrates how vulnerable characters like Harry -- highly intelligent, socially on the fringe, and desperate to be please and be appreciated -- were perfect prey for Soviet indoctrination. Whether or not you end up sympathizing with Harry or hating him, you cannot argue that this is an important story.

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