The Serpent and the Bees: A KGB Chronicle

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In West Berlin in 1963, while on his first diplomatic assignment, the author was contacted by a Soviet Armenian KGB agent. For fifteen months Alexander and the KGB agent met on both sides of the Berlin Wall. Attempting to play on Alexander's sympathy to his Armenian heritage, the KGB made a series of unsuccessful attempts to lure the author to Soviet Armenia and recruit him to work for the Soviet Union. After Berlin, the KGB's interest in Alexander continued. Over the years he was contacted by many Armenian ...

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Overview

In West Berlin in 1963, while on his first diplomatic assignment, the author was contacted by a Soviet Armenian KGB agent. For fifteen months Alexander and the KGB agent met on both sides of the Berlin Wall. Attempting to play on Alexander's sympathy to his Armenian heritage, the KGB made a series of unsuccessful attempts to lure the author to Soviet Armenia and recruit him to work for the Soviet Union. After Berlin, the KGB's interest in Alexander continued. Over the years he was contacted by many Armenian agents-when he traveled on official business to the Soviet Union and spent five days in Soviet Armenia; in Washington, where the KGB agent from Berlin surprisingly appeared and sought to absolve himself of blame for the earlier approach; during later trips to Moscow; again in Washington by KGB agents assigned to the Soviet Embassy and at TASS; and in Greece. Fifteen years after the first contact, Alexander had a dramatic confrontation with the original KGB officer. The story is told against a backdrop of Soviet-American tensions and events ranging from the Kennedy visit to Berlin and his assassination five months later to the murder of the CIA station chief in Athens by Greek terrorists. In describing this ethnic pursuit of the author, this book provides a behind-the-scenes look at U.S.-Soviet relations, foreign service life, and the problems faced by KGB agents and their families, as well as an in-depth portrait of post-Stalin Armenia, where creative spirits are seeking to perpetuate an ancient culture despite the pressures of totalitarian control.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Times
...a fascinating tale.
The Armenian Reporter International
Despite the nature of the book, there is not a hint of chauvinism or ideological supremacy. Its honesty and attention to detail make this a chronicle that cannot be categorized along conventional lines. It is a thriller, a historical diary and a study of human behavior. This book touches on every aspect of human life and endeavor. Like a good wine, it has to be sampled in order to be appreciated.
Armenian International Magazine
...offers a fascinating international jaunt with eye-opening revelations about prominent Soviet Armenians by an eminently qualified expert, Edward Alexander, based on his real-life experiences.
— Walter R. Roberts, George Washington University
The California Courier
From the moment one starts to read Edward Alexander's book...one wants to continue without interruption.
— Walter R. Roberts, George Washington University
Ararat
Alexander provides a gripping behind-the-scenes look at U.S.-Soviet relations...can be highly recommended to those, scholars and non-scholars alike, interested in the Soviet past and Armenia's future. It offers insight which one can garner from few other sources, and it is one of those books hard to put down once you begin to read it.
— Dennis R. Papzian, University of Michigan, Dearborn
The Washington Times - Nathan Glick
The narrative is fascinating and compulsively readable. The best thing about this book is its avoidance of and undoing of cliches. By telling the story straightforwardly, the author gives the reader a novelistic feeling of a real world being created, with all of its ambiguities and unexpectedness, such as the intrusion of honest human feeling in the midst of state-sponsored skullduggery.
The Washington Times - Paul Goble
While the story itself is interesting, the book is even more important because of the insight it provides into Soviet thinking....it should be required reading for anyone who has to deal with the Soviets.
The Washington Times - Walter R. Roberts
Though totally factual, it is told in a lively style that holds the reader's interest. It is an important contribution to the history of the Cold War, and one of the very few that considers in detail the role of Armenia in that conflict.
Ararat - L.A. Saryan
An excellent book!
Ararat - Ray S. Cline
...a detailed account of the foreign service of an American citizen of Armenian descent....The undercurrent theme is the relentless periodic attempts of Soviet Armenians to subvert the author's loyalty to the United States and recruit him to work for the KGB.
Ararat - Dennis R. Papzian
Alexander provides a gripping behind-the-scenes look at U.S.-Soviet relations...can be highly recommended to those, scholars and non-scholars alike, interested in the Soviet past and Armenia's future. It offers insight which one can garner from few other sources, and it is one of those books hard to put down once you begin to read it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819178206
  • Publisher: University Press of America
  • Publication date: 11/28/1990
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Alexander spent more than thirty years in the State Department and the Foreign Service where he dealt primarily with Soviet and East European affairs.

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