Robert Philip Hanssen



Cherkashin, Victor, with Gregory Feifer. Spy Handler -- Memoir of a KGB Officer: The True Story of the Man Who Recruited Robert Hanssen & Aldrich Ames. New York: Basic Books, 2004.

Clark comment: The subtitle of this book is (as often happens with subtitles) misleading at best. Cherkashin did not literally "recruit" Ames and Hanssen; they dropped themselves into his lap.

Troy, CIRA Newsletter 30.1 (Spring 2005), says that the author "has written an entertaining book" about "his (relatively brief) involvement with Ames and Hanssen and much more about his career" that spanned 39 years with the KGB. The book is "enjoyable and easy to read." For Bath, NIPQ 21.2 (Jun. 2005), this work "is more than the record of a skilled intelligence officer, it also offers a rare picture of the case officer's day-to-day activities and challenges."

To Usdin, I&NS 21.6 (Dec. 2006), the author "provides little new information about Ames, Hanssen or Pelton." In fact, he "reveals far more about the KGB than about the CIA, FBI or NSA." Ehrman, Studies 49.3 (2005), comments that the author "not only tells a fascinating story but also provides numerous insights -- some of them probably unintended -- into the world of the KGB that make this a rewarding book for specialists and general readers alike." Cherkashin does not "seem bothered by the character of the post-Stalin system he served or of the service in which he worked."

Epstein, Wall Street Journal (30 Dec. 2004), usesthe publication of Cherkashin's book to argue that the arrests of Ames and Hanssen prove that "Angleton was right." Cherkashin's story "provides a gripping account of [the KGB's] successes in the spy war.... That America's counterespionage apparatus allowed both [Ames and Hanssen] to operate as long as they did is a testament to its complacency as much as to the KGB's cleverness."

Havill, Adrian. The Spy Who Stayed Out in the Cold: The Secret Life of FBI Double Agent Robert Hanssen. New York: St. Martin's, 2002.

For Marston, Baltimore Sun, 19 Jan. 2002, the author is a "meticulous researcher" who provides historical and diplomatic context to his telling of Hanssen's story. The reviewer notes that "Havill rejects as naive Hanssen's contention that the Russians never knew his true identity, and seems oddly sympathetic to the super-spy." Peake, Intelligencer 13.1, destroys any thought of Havill as researcher with a listing of errors the reviewer characterizes as "dim-witted," "laughable," and "absolute nonsense." Peake's advice is "Don't waste time on this one."

Schiller, Lawrence. Into the Mirror: The Life of Master Spy Robert P. Hanssen -- Based Upon an Investigation by Norman Mailer and Lawrence Schiller. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. [Peake, Studies 48.3/92/fn2]

Shannon, Elaine, and Ann Blackman. The Spy Next Door: The Extraordinary Secret Life of Robert Philip Hanssen, the Most Damaging FBI Agent in U.S. History. New York: Little, Brown, 2002.

Marston, Baltimore Sun, 19 Jan. 2002, finds this "a highly readable account that strips away Good Bob's straight-arrow facade, to reveal a Bad Bob who betrayed his country on an unprecedented scale." For Weinstein, Washington Post, 20 Jan. 2002, the authors provide "a detailed and meticulous chronological tracing of Hanssen's life and times, from cradle to capture." Peake, Intelligencer 13.1, says this is "easy reading and informative." To Bath, NIPQ 18.4, the authors, in their rush to get this book quickly onto the market, "mak[e] suppositions little supported by evidence," which do not look very good in the light of later materials.

Vise, David A. The Bureau and the Mole: The Unmasking of Robert Philip Hanssen, The Most Dangerous Double Agent in FBI History. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2002.

According to Marston, Baltimore Sun, 19 Jan. 2002, the author "traces the superficially parallel careers of Hanssen and former FBI Director Louis Freeh." But the two "had no direct interaction,... so Vise's structure occasionally seems forced." Nevertheless, the book "is a carefully researched and compelling account, with a startling bombshell: in 1990, Hanssen's brother-in-law and fellow FBI agent Mark Wauck reported to his FBI superiors in Chicago that Hanssen was spending far beyond his bureau salary, had thousands in cash hidden in his home and that Wauck suspected Hanssen was spying for the Russians. Incredibly, the FBI did nothing."

Bath, NIPQ 18.4, also finds the "attempted parallel" between "the hunted" (Hanssen) and "the hunter" (Freeh) to be "a bit strained." To Weinstein, Washington Post, 20 Jan. 2002, this is an "intelligent and well-researched" work. However, its usefulness is diminished by the absence of an index. There are also touches of a novel in Vise's work, as when he reaches into the minds of both Hanssen and Freeh. For Peake, Intelligencer 13.1, some readers may find Vise's 72 pages on former FBI Director Louis Freeh distracting. Otherwise, this work is "easy reading and informative."

  Wise, David. Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America. New York: Random House, 2002.

To Peake, Studies 48.3 (2004), Wise's is the "best book about the Robert Hanssen espionage case." It is also "a disturbing tale of personal treachery and bureaucratic ineptitude." Once the FBI decided that there was a CIA suspect, "they never considered an alternative until given hard evidence of the mole's true identity." For Goulden, Washington Times, 8 Dec. 2002, and Intelligencer 13.2, "Wise adds an important new element to the case, the inside story of how our intelligence agencies finally tracked [Hanssen] down and brought him to justice.... [He also] offers fresh information on Hanssen's crimes."

Sherrill, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2002, opines that "Wise smartly guesses that the FBI 'may have failed to detect Hanssen sooner because it was in love with its own image' of bureaucratic purity and shrewdness -- a hangover from the myth-ridden Hoover era.... A traitor in their ranks? Impossible." Campbell, Journal of Intelligence History 3.1, comments that "David Wise has written another excellent book on espionage.... [T]his book shows careful research and balanced analysis and it can be recommended to academics and intelligence officers."

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