The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

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by Christopher Andrew
     
 

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The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a

Overview

The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB’s secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network.Vasili Mitrokhin, a secret dissident who worked in the KGB archive, smuggled out copies of its most highly classified files every day for twelve years. In 1992, a U.S. ally succeeded in exfiltrating the KGB officer and his entire archive out of Moscow. The archive covers the entire period from the Bolshevik Revolution to the 1980s and includes revelations concerning almost every country in the world. But the KGB's main target, of course, was the United States.Though there is top-secret material on almost every country in the world, the United States is at the top of the list. As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century.Among the topics and revelations explored are: The KGB’s covert operations in the United States and throughout the West, some of which remain dangerous today. KGB files on Oswald and the JFK assassination that Boris Yeltsin almost certainly has no intention of showing President Clinton. The KGB’s attempts to discredit civil rights leader in the 1960s, including its infiltration of the inner circle of a key leader. The KGB’s use of radio intercept posts in New York and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s to intercept high-level U.S. government communications. The KGB’s attempts to steal technological secrets from major U.S. aerospace and technology corporations. KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president. KGB spies who successfully posed as U.S. citizens under a series of ingenious disguises, including several who attained access to the upper echelons of New York society.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Mitrokhin, archivist for the KGB, risked death to copy material painstakingly from the highly secret archives over 30 years; he hid the scraps under his house and bided his time. With the advent of glasnost and Gorbachev, he hauled the secrets to a British Embassy in the Baltics and received asylum in the UK. This is a highly detailed account of Soviet espionage from the beginnings of the Soviet state to the end of the Cold War. Early on, Mitrokhin shows how easily future spies were recruited to further the goals of the workers' state while they pursued careers in the diplomatic corps. But Russians were too paranoid to take full advantage of this superb intelligence. After World War II, spies were harder to recruit as the truth about Soviet life became common knowledge. Robert Whitfield meets the challenge and reads these massive tomes well--trouble is, the details are too massive even for the interested listener. A library would do better to get an indexed hard copy so students can use selected parts for research.--James L. Dudley, Westhampton Beach, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465010035
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/29/2000
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
736
Sales rank:
159,693
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Christopher Andrew is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Cambridge University. In addition to The Sword and the Shield, his previous books include Her Majesty’s Secret Service, KGB, and For the President’s Eyes Only. He lives in Cambridge, England.

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Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who is seriously interested in how to conduct government is the most responsible way should read this book. In addition, those who love spy stories, histories, and novels will be rewarded with many new details and perspectives on Soviet and Russian foreign intelligence activities since the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. This book surprised me in several ways. First, I did not expect to learn that the KGB did not have a lot of important successes that were not already known publicly. Second, the KGB's effectiveness was more related to Western mistakes than to KGB brilliance. Third, the Soviet perceptions of the United States and Britain seem to have come from Fantasyland. The Soviet state made very poor use of terrific foreign intelligence because its leaders were such poor thinkers and the system did not encourage free discussion. Fourth, helping the dissidents inside the Soviet Union could have helped undo Communism much sooner. What makes this book unique is the combination of having had access to almost all of the foreign intelligence archives of the KGB for 12 years and having those archives interpreted by someone in the KGB who was interested in the need to reform Soviet socialism. By having Christpher Andrew join Vasili Mitrokhin in authoring this book, you do get a Western overlay but the fundamental Russian perspective is still there. I found the 'big picture' aspects of the book far more rewarding than the specific examples. The rise of fascism clearly was Moscow's greatest resource in getting information from the West. The most effective spies (like Kim Philby and the other Magnficent Five in Britain) were as much motivated by anti-fascism as they were by helping the U.S.S.R. Although some are always willing to sell out for money or sex, idealism is the most dangerous motivation for traitors. Interestingly, leaks from the United States about the atomic and hydrogen bombs related again to idealism -- concern about avoiding a world in which those bombs might be used. How might future offensive and defensive technology breakthroughs create similar actions? It's a chilling thought. At the same time, the failure of the Soviet system eventually limited its ability to gain new traitors. The human rights abuses of the Soviets made Communism seem as dangerous to many idealists as fascism had earlier. Stalin doomed the Soviet system as much as its structural flaws did. On the other hand, Lenin was just as committed to controlling through secret police and intelligence gathering as Stalin was. Clearly, the Communist hand at the tiller in Moscow would have slipped much sooner if severe repression and fear had not been used. I also wondered how many of the problems that Western democracies had with the KGB could have been eliminated by having focused on proper security earlier. The shocking lapses of the British foreign service prior to World War II and in the Roosevelt administration clearly allowed a disproportionate share of the Soviet gains through foreign intelligence. It would also be very interesting to read about how Western democracies could have countered these foreign intelligence operation
Anonymous More than 1 year ago