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It was official. In 1991, two months after an abortive coup in August, the KGB was pronounced dead. But was it really? In KGB: Death and Rebirth, Martin Ebon, a writer long engaged in the study of foreign affairs, maintains that the notorious secret police/espionage organization is alive and well. He takes a penetrating look at KGB predecessors, the KGB at the time of its supposed demise, and the subsequent use of segmented intelligence forces such as border patrols and communications and espionage agencies. Ebon points out that after the Ministry of Security resurrected these domestic KGB activities, Yevgeny Primakov's Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS) assumed foreign policy positions not unlike its predecessor's. Even more important, Ebon argues, spin-off secret police organizations—some still bearing the KGB name—have surfaced, wielding significant power in former Soviet republics, from the Ukraine to Kazakhstan, from Latvia to Georgia.

How did the new KGB evolve? Who were the individuals responsible for recreating the KGB in its new image? What was the KGB's relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev during his regime? Did Boris Yeltsin plan a Russian KGB, even before the August coup? What has been the role of KGB successor agencies within the independence movements in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia? How has Yevgeny Primakov influenced foreign intelligence activity? What is the role of the FIS in Iran? What does the future hold? Martin Ebon meets these provocative questions head-on, offering candid, often surprising answers and new information for the curious—or concerned—reader. While the Cold War is over, Ebon cautions, the KGB has retained its basic structure and goals under a new name, and it would be naive to believe otherwise.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The KGB was abolished in 1991, but as Ebon ( The Andropov File ) demonstrates in this cogent report, the former Soviet spy agency continues its domestic activities as the Russian Ministry of Security, while its foreign operations are now handled by various successor agencies. Moreover, virtually every former Soviet republic has retained a KGB or KGB-like apparatus for its own national purposes. Ebon sheds light on Gorbachev's ties to the KGB, reveals Moscow's covert operations in Iran and documents the agency's efforts to sabotage the Baltic republics' independence movements. He also theorizes, on the basis of fragmentary, inconclusive reports, that the British Czech-born billionaire Robert Maxwell, who drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1991, appears to have been an ``agent of influence'' for the Soviet secret service. (Apr.)
Library Journal
I picked up this book with sigh--not another ``now it can be told about the USSR story''--but found myself fully engrossed in this tale of the post-1989 KGB. From the inside story of the 1991 anti-Gorbachev coup (never mind Gorby's connections to the KGB) to a range of questions (did Robert Maxwell have KGB ties? what happened to Raoul Wallenberg?), Ebon tells a fascinating and insightful history of the KGB, both in its sinister and its bumbling aspects. Ebon traces the rebirth of the KGB, especially in the new independent state, and examines its contemporary targets. His conclusion that ``the KGB by any other name will still be the KGB'' is a sobering reminder of the realities of geopolitics, Russian political traditions, and the persistence of intelligence agencies. Required reading for students of the former USSR.-- H. Steck, SUNY at Cortland
The Soviet Union's intelligence arm, the KGB, was supposed to have died in 1991. Ebon--a writer long engaged in the study of Soviet affairs--reveals how the still powerful organization has retained its basic structure under a new name, and he advocates vigilance in keeping track of its activities. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Roland Green
Sovietologist and intelligence expert Ebon discusses the post-Soviet decline, fall, and reanimation of the notorious Soviet secret police agency. Although discredited and to some extent disbanded after aligning itself against Gorbachev in the August coup, the KGB attempted a variety of reforms within Russia and, while reticent about its role in past foreign operations including the attempt on the pope's life in 1982, continued active in new ones. Meanwhile, each of the independent republics born in the wake of the union's collapse was establishing its own secret police with personnel and methods largely drawn from those of the old KGB. These little KGBs are certain to play their roles in future relations between the republics. Ebon's effort requires a bit of background in basic Sovietology, but then, its topic does not lend itself to sound bites. A useful study for informed, concerned readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275946333
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1994
  • Pages: 244
  • Lexile: 1390L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

MARTIN EBON served with the U.S. Office of War Information during World War II. He was subsequently on the staff of the Foreign Policy Association and, during the Korean War, was with the U.S. Information Agency. Ebon has lectured on world affairs and communist tactics, in particular, at New York University and the New School for Social Research. He is the author or editor of more than sixty books, and his numerous articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Psychology Today, and the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

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Table of Contents

Memo to the Reader

The Coup That Failed

Three Days in August

Bewildered, Rigid Mastermind

Ever-New Image-Making

The Gorbachev-KGB Connection

Months of Transition

KGB "Camelot": Bakatin Interlude

Bugs in the U.S. Embassy

The Maxwell Enigma

Traitor into Hero

Missing Archives: Beyond Wallenberg

Rapid Rebirth

Boris Yeltsin's KGB

Whose Codes? Whose Cyphers?

Baltic Turmoil

Bonds That Separate

Transcaucasian Tragedies

Central Asian Chessboard

Today and Tomorrow

Border Guards in Disarray

Foreign Intelligence, Modernized

Top Target: Iran

Under Whatever Name

Selected Bibliography


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