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Mortal Crimes: Soviet Penetration of the Manhattan Project

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Overview

Nigel West offers a wide angle view of Soviet espionage in the light of the broader picture that includes the UK and Canada, along with the United States, to steal the secrets of the Atomic bomb.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
West, a prolific writer on pre- and post-WWII espionage, delivers an in-depth work, this time on Soviet efforts to acquire secrets about the Allies' efforts to develop the atomic bomb. Using recently declassified information from Soviet archives as well as from FBI, CIA and NSA files in the U.S., West assembles pieces of "one of the most significant intricate jigsaw puzzles in history," showing a full story of atomic espionage in America. The cornerstone of his work rests on the Venona files, declassified by the U.S. in the 1990s, which provided a new and entirely authentic list of code names of British and American spies for the Soviet Union. Although West previously wrote about these files in Venona: The Greatest Secret of the Cold War, this new work far from rehashes old information. West puts Venona at the center of a much larger portrait of the key successes and failures of British, American and Canadian espionage units. One of the best sections details not only how the FBI was slow to grasp the scale of Soviet espionage on the West Coast, but also how military authorities were to blame for not sharing secrets, such as not even telling J. Edgar Hoover the purpose of Los Alamos. Overall, West's book makes an important contribution to espionage studies by showing the extent to which Stalin was able to use willing accomplices in the West to provide him with Manhattan Project secrets and help the Soviets develop their own A-bomb. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ethel Rosenberg was guilty. And so were a lot of other folks working in and around the American effort to build nuclear weaponry. "The sheer scale of hostile penetration of the Manhattan Project, at virtually every level, was quite comprehensive." So writes former British intelligence officer and Conservative MP West (Molehunt, 1989), who knows a good spy story when he sees one. British research into nuclear weaponry had been well penetrated by Soviet operatives early on in WWII, he tells us, thanks to Kim Philby and the like; the Manhattan Project suffered its share of leaks, and not of the radioactive kind, as British scientists who went to work on atomic projects in the US-among them Klaus Fuchs, Donald Maclean, and John Cairncross-delivered information to Soviet intelligence agents. Drawing on transcripts from the federal government's now declassified VENONA investigations, West observes that, surprisingly, Manhattan was compromised early and effectively; the Soviets established a special section in New York in 1943 to handle scientific and technical intelligence, work known only to a handful of Soviet officials outside of the NKVD. Remarked one later KGB officer of the NKVD's efforts: "In the USA we obtained information on how the bomb was made and in Britain of what it was made, so that together they covered the whole problem"-covered it so effectively, in fact, that the Soviets had their bomb much sooner than Western scientists thought possible. There are smoking guns aplenty in West's pages, and they bear the fingerprints of Fuchs, Ted Hall, Steve Nelson, Vivian Glassman, and other figures well known and unknown alike-along with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, whose martyrs' clothWest rends into tatters. Capably written and well researched, especially considering its large cast of characters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781929631216
  • Publisher: Enigma Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Nigel West is a former officer of the British secret intelligence service, MI6, and conservative party member of the British Parliament. He has written extensively on espionage and counterintelligence and given numerous lectures on those subjects.

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Table of Contents

I The Frisch-Peierls memorandum 1
II Anglo-American cooperation 25
III Beria's XY solution 43
IV Chalk River, Oak Ridge and Hanford 81
V Penetrating Los Alamos 84
VI The XY Rezidentura 102
VII VENONA part 1 : Theodore Hall and Klaus Fuchs 116
VIII VENONA part 2 : the Rosenberg network 139
IX VENONA part 3 : the Pers mystery 161
X VENONA part 4 : Oppenheimer and the others 180
XI Nobel espionage 227
XII The Canadian connection 232
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