General Overviews


Albats, Yevgenia. Tr., Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State Within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia -- Past Present, and Future. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994. London: I.B. Tauris, 1995.

Andrew, Christopher, and Oleg Gordievsky. KGB: The Inside Story of Its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1990. New York: HarperCollins, 1990. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. [pb] JN6529I6A53

Chambers calls this work "compendious and well written; the place to start." According to Cram, "the majority of reviewers, especially the professional experts, lauded the book not only as a good read but also as an invaluable reference work." Powers, NYRB (11 May 2000) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 93, finds that Andrew has "seeded a comprehensive account of the KGB and its predecessors with nuggets of new material provided by Gordievsky." [fn. omitted]

For Clive, Government and Opposition 26.2, this is the "most authoritative history of the KGB and its predecessors." On the other hand, Evans, IJI&C 5.1, says this is a "well-written history..., [but] there are too many errors for KGB to be recommended without qualification." Accepting the work's imperfections, Howard, WPNWE, 24-30 Dec. 1990, argues that Andrew and Gordievsky's picture of the KGB is "likely to be more valuable for its outline than for its details."

Surveillant 2.1 sees KGB as an "[o]utstanding, scholarly, comprehensive, well-written, authoritative, narrative treatment of the history of Russian state security and intelligence services." It is a "commendable piece of work by a competent, disciplined historian with limited experience in the subject matter, and a former Soviet intelligence officer with limited first-hand knowledge of the subject." Although "numerous minor errors of fact crept in the hardback edition," many of these "have been cleared up in th[e] paperback edition." In addition, the "simple attribution of so much material to 'Gordievsky' without qualification of his sources raises some questions." This latter point is also made by Robertson, I&NS 7.3, who wonders whether "anything that might be termed research was undertaken at all" in the chapter on the Gorbachev Era.

Knightley, Spectator, 3 Nov. 1990, believes that the book clearly shows the mark of both co-authors. Andrew's "diligent research and narrative skill" are evident, but so is Gordievsky's background as "an ideological defector." The latter leads to "a smear" of Harry Hopkins "which can only be described as shameful." Because Andrew is "a conscientious academic,... we could have expected him to have inserted a few caveats into Gordievsky's story."

In a lengthy review essay in Atlantic, Mar. 1991, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., takes the book and its authors to task for the accusation against Harry Hopkins. He concludes that the story as presented is weakly sourced (a lecture heard by Gordievsky when he was a trainee), full of textual contradictions, and probably related to the authors' reputed six-figure advances.

Andrew, Christopher, and Vasili Mitrokhin.

1. The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West. London: Allen Lane/Penguin Press, 1999. The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Click for reviews.

2. The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Click for reviews.

Deriabin, Peter, and Tennent H. Bagley. The KGB: Masters of the Soviet Union. New York: Hippocrene, 1990.

Deriabin, Peter S., and Joseph C. Evans. Inside Stalin's Kremlin: An Eyewitness Account of Brutality, Duplicity, and Intrigue. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 1998.

From publisher: From his experiences in "the USSR's two main centres of power (the State Security apparatus and the Communist Party), Peter Deriabin pieces together the story of an epic power struggle which resulted in the alleged assassination of Stalin."

Dziak, John J. "Reflections on the Counterintelligence State." In In the Name of Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Walter Pforzheimer, eds. Hayden B. Peake and Samuel Halpern, 261-276. Washington, DC: NIBC Press, 1994.

Foreign Intelligence Literary Scene. Editors. "The Russian Security Services: Present Configuration." 11, no. 4 (1992): 1-3.

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."

Nation, R. Craig. Black Earth, Red Star: A History of Soviet Security Policy, 1917-1991. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.

Pierre, FA 71.5 (Sep.-Oct. 1992), says this book synthesizes "in a remarkably comprehensive manner the foreign and defense policy of the Soviet Union" from the Revolution to the demise of communism.

Parrish, Michael. The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-1953. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.

According to Kelley, Parameters, Winter 1997-98, the author "demonstrates that terror ... did not cease with Yezhov's removal in late 1938 but continued unabated, in phases and under various directors, until Stalin's death in 1953.... The hard-hitting detail which Parrish marshals is most impressive, if at times tedious."

Primakov, Evgenii M., ed. Ocherki istorii rossiiskoi vneshnei razvedki: V shesti tomakh. [Studies in the History of Russian Foreign Intelligence: in 6 volumes.] Vol. 1. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 1996.

Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, I&NS 14.1, notes that Volume 1 of this popular "repackaging" of the past of Russian intelligence covers "From Ancient Times to 1917." The book brings together the work of six authors under the editorship of the then-head of the SVR and now former prime minister. While it may make for "diverting bed-time reading," Ocherki "is not necessarily good history, and scholars should approach it with caution.... [O]n the whole, the book is marred by an overly tendentious approach and sloppy scholarship" at a time when "[n]early all the sources necessary ... are now freely accessible."

Sobolyeva, Tatyana A. Tainopis v Vistorii Rossii [Cryptology in Russia's History]. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 1994.

Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Cryptologia 21.1, finds this "a creditable attempt at chronicling Russian code-making and -breaking from the Middle Ages until the start of the Second World War." Nonetheless, the author's "treatment of the 1920s and 1930s is weaker tham the earlier sections of the book.... The main irritant ... is her repeated ... tak[ing] issue with every criticism [David Kahn] makes of the Russians.... [Yet,] she ultimately agrees with most of his points."

West, Nigel. [Rupert Allason, former M.P.] Games of Intelligence: The Classified Conflict of International Espionage Revealed. London: Crown, 1989. New York: Crown, 1990.

Surveillant 1.1 notes that the U.S. edition has been updated. "West, as provocative as he is prolific, asks and answers ... questions about the workings of intelligence organizations in both East and West." A NameBase review calls the book "a broad, name-intensive survey of British, French, U.S., and Soviet intelligence." The author "prefers attention to detail and the occasional anecdote to make his points.... This makes the book a good read as well as a good reference to some of the available literature."

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