Amy Knight

Knight, Amy. Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. 1996. [pb] DK268B384K58

Surveillant 3.4/5 says Knight's book is a "comprehensive biography" of the individual who was "responsible for all intelligence, counterintelligence, and domestic security during the prewar and war years." The author "sees Beria's skill at psychological manipulation as the key to his relationship with Stalin.... More than a sycophant, he was Stalin's alter ego." Unsinger, IJI&C 7.1, believes that readers "expecting nuggets for the study of intelligence will be disappointed," because Knight "provides little more than a casual mention of a few operatives and events." This book is "easy to read and flows nicely."

To Legvold, FA 72.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1993), Knight "has pieced together as much as one can say" about Beria without benefit of the KGB archives. The "focus is less on the man than on the intersection between his career and the cruel doings of the regime's political watchdogs." Knight's account does not shed "much light on the reason" for some of Beria's later political positions.


Knight, Amy. "The Empire Strikes Back: How the Never-Say-Die KGB Is Resurrecting the Old Soviet Union." Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 27 May-2 Jun. 1996, 23.

The former KGB organizations in the newly independent states around Russia have continued their ties to Moscow and remain in close contact with each other. They also share "a common belief in the necessity of keeping their empire together." The main trend is toward reintegration of the Commonwealth states, and that trend is supported by many non-Russian KGB professionals serving in the new states.


Knight, Amy. How The Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2005. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006.

Peake, Studies 50.2 (2006), finds that the author "adds some new and relatively minor details to the Gouzenko story. While they do not change the substance of the case, they do describe more of Gouzenko's personal life after the defection.... Only gradually does the real reason Knight wrote [this book] become apparent: [she] argues that the primary product of the Gouzenko defection was the damage done to innocent lives due to the 'unrelenting witch-hunt for spies.'" When the "innocent lives" mentioned include Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White, there are some problems.

For Clément, I&NS 21.2 (Apr. 2006), the author's connecting Gouzenko's defection to "American anti-communist witch-hunts" goes down without choking sounds. The reviewer sees the work as "a coherent, engaging analysis of Igor Gouzenko's legacy in the Cold War." Nonetheless, Knight's determination "to denigrate Mackenzie King at every turn" is written off as but a detail.

Goulden, Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), comments that "very little is added to our knowledge of the Gouzenko matter in [this] inanely titled" book. Rather, it is "an angry riff on how the Canadians mishandled the case, and how the American Congress and FBI used Gouzenko to touch off an 'anti-communist witch hunt.'"

[Canada/Gouzenko; SpyCases/U.S./Gen]

Knight, Amy. The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988. Rev. ed. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990.

Mapother, IJI&C 3.1, says this book is a "scholarly enquiry" that "provides illuminating insights into the organization and development of the KGB." Commenting on the revised edition, Surveillant 1.1 notes the addition of a "new epilogue covering 1987-1989."


Knight, Amy. "Russian Archives: Opportunities and Obstacles." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 3 (Fall 1999): 325-337.

The author surveys the the period from 1991-1993, when "researchers enjoyed unprecedented access to several Russian archives," to the present, where the "chill that began descending over the archives in 1993" continues. Knight is critical of several works "based on inadequate documentation" which have been portrayed by Western publishers as legitimate historical writings. Criticized specifically are Sudoplatov's Special Tasks and Weinstein and Vassiliev's The Haunted Wood.


Knight, Amy. Spies Without Cloaks: The KGB's Successors. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. HV82272A3K59

According to Legvold, FA 75.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1996), this book provides "a detailed account of the former KGB's evolving role." This is "a formidable task," but the author "meets it ably." The Federal Counterintelligence Service "gets most of Knight's attention." In her opinion, this service remains too large, unreconstructed, and "too tempting a tool of power for politicians." Mapother, History 26.4, calls the book "interesting and informative," and notes that the author provides "a good biographical sketch" of Yevgeniy Primakov. Knight also makes clear that in the world of Commonwealth of Independent States security services, "Moscow remains the center."

For Kelley, Parameters, Autumn 1998, this "powerful, multifaceted, well-documented book" shows "the continuity of the Russian power ministries with their Soviet roots." The author "investigates the multiplicity of renamed, reorganized, and resubordinated KGB successor organizations; demonstrates how they have successfully resisted democratic control by virtue of their indispensability; and shows how Boris Yeltsin has used them to fortify his hold on power."

[Russia/90s & Overviews/90s]

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