Stalin's Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring
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Stalin's Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring

by Robert Whymant
     
 

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This is the true story of a remarkable man who pulled off a seemingly impossible espionage mission in Tokyo, before and during World War II. Richard Sorge, born to a Russian mother and a German father, ran a network of Japanese and Europeans under the noses of Japan's dreaded secret police. From 1933 until he was caught in late 1941, he transmitted priceless

Overview

This is the true story of a remarkable man who pulled off a seemingly impossible espionage mission in Tokyo, before and during World War II. Richard Sorge, born to a Russian mother and a German father, ran a network of Japanese and Europeans under the noses of Japan's dreaded secret police. From 1933 until he was caught in late 1941, he transmitted priceless secrets to Red Army intelligence. Sorge's espionage group -- perhaps the most successful operating in this critical period - kept the Russians informed about Japanese and German intentions, and also helped influence decisions made by these governments.Sorge's biggest coup was to inform Stalin of the German attack on Russia in 1941, weeks before it occurred -- with details of troop deployments, movement of armaments and the actual date of the attack. Abandoned to his fate by Stalin, Sorge became the first European sentenced to death by a Japanese court. After a prolonged ordeal he was executed in Sugamo prison in 1944.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The most careful assessment to date of one of the most successful spy rings ever…a judicious and often gripping account."--Kirkus Reviews

"Enthralling."--London Review of Books

"As readable as a first-rate thriller...Whymant tells the story extremely skillfully, combining amusing detail of everyday life and erotica, with the tale of the problems of the greatest strategic and intelligence importance."--Times Literary Supplement

"In his penetrating biography, Robert Whymant delves into the nether regions of human betrayal."--The Observer

'As well researched as possible and yet as readable as a first-rate thriller.' Oleg Gordievsky, Times Literary Supplement
'This is a gripping story and very well told. Whymant's new material deepens understanding and advances knowledge…a very readable book.' M.R.D. Foot

'Kim Philby several times expressed to me his admiration of Sorge. He felt Sorge was the only secret agent beyond reproach.' Philip Knightley

'In his penetrating biography, Robert Whymant, delves into the nether regions of human betrayal to recover the man from the myth.' Kevin Toolis, The Observer

'An enthralling new account' Murray Sayle, London Review of Books

'This gripping account of Sorge's Tokyo spy ring by Robert Whymant draws on recently released Russian archives to add much new material to an important bit of Japan's wartime history.' William Dawkins, Financial Times

Library Journal
Richard Sorge, the quintessential Soviet master espionage agent, assembled a spy ring in Japan from 1933 to 1941. The Tokyo Espionage Ring had access to the highest levels of the German and Japanese governments and was able to transmit invaluable information about Axis military and diplomatic initiatives around the world, especially those perceived as having an impact on the Soviet Union. Sorge's brilliant information-gathering expertise was not always appreciated by his Moscow handlers, including Stalin himself. Whymant captures Sorge's human side: his weaknesses for women and alcohol and his pervasive loneliness. Sorge's stubborn hope that Moscow would intervene to save him from execution by the Japanese because of his loyalty to the Soviet cause is both poignant and pathetic, given the Soviet policy of refusing to acknowledge its spy networks. This may be compared with Gordon W. Prange's Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring (LJ 9/1/84), which has a more authoritative historian's style, albeit a lively one. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.--Stephen W. Green, Auraria Lib., Denver
Kirkus Reviews
The most careful assessment to date of one of the most successful spy rings ever. The career of Richard Sorge, the son of a German father and a Russian mother, was filled with paradox. He fought bravely in the German army during the First World War and was wounded three times. He became a committed communist after the war, but his wounds served to inoculate him from the suspicions of the German officers among whom he worked as a journalist in Tokyo from 1933 to 1941. His Soviet spy ring, using both Japanese and Germans, was often better informed than the German Embassy, which leaned heavily on his expertise, the ambassador even allowing him to use the embassy code books. He warned the Soviet Union of the impending German attack, almost to the day, only to have his warning regarded by Stalin as a provocation. He was almost ludicrously indiscreet in his conversation, was frequently drunk, and even seduced the ambassador's wife, but the sheer recklessness of his conduct served somehow to insulate him from suspicion. And when he was finally caught, the Soviets allowed their most successful spy to be hanged rather than save someone who knew the full extent of Stalin's blunder. This account, by the Tokyo correspondent of the Times of London, is the first to use both the Russian Defense Ministry and KGB files, German diplomatic archives, and Japanese and German memoirs and official records, even including the account of his career written by Sorge in prison. Whymant believes that Sorge's information made it safe for the Soviets to transfer their troops from the Japanese to the German front, and hence stem the tide at last. Hence the final paradox that, by helping to stop Hitler, his greatestservice may have been to the West. A judicious and often gripping account of a spy who, in his own words, penetrated the hard shell of Japanese society, and found that it was soft inside. .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781845113100
Publisher:
I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
Publication date:
12/12/2006
Edition description:
Second Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.18(w) x 9.67(h) x 1.13(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Whymant covered East Asia for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph from 1972 to 1993 when he became Tokyo Correspondent of The Times. Whymant was tragically killed in the 2004 tsunami while on holiday in Sri Lanka.

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