General Overviews

Published Prior to 1990s

A - D

Antonov-Ovseyenko, Anton. The Time of Stalin: Portrait of a Tyranny. New York: Harper & Row, 1981.

According to Van Rossum, Soviet Studies 36.3 (July 1984), the author "spent the years 1941-1953 in prisons and forced labor camps." This is "a book rich in new material." However, some Russian reviewers have been "highly critical" of a lack of discrimination in his use of his sources.

Barron, John.

1. KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents. New York: Reader's Digest Press, 1974. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1974. New York: Bantam Books, 1974. [pb]

Chambers calls Barron's work the "first really good book on the KGB." It is a "mixture of adventure yarns and occasionally lugubrious assessments of KGB capabilities." Pforzheimer says the book is "excellent, authoritative and well written"; however, the section on the GRU "is somewhat weak." To Constantinides, the book's main emphasis "is on the KGB's activities abroad, with chapters describing individual espionage operations.... The KGB's organizational structure ... is outlined, and there is a short section on its internal security function."

NameBase seems less enamored: "Most of the book relates the ugly exploits of KGB assassins and disinformationists in typical Digest idiom, based on the debriefings of various defectors.... Of more interest was the appendix of 1,600 names of alleged KGB and GRU officers posted abroad under diplomatic cover. This appendix was a retaliation for 'Who's Who in CIA,' published in East Germany in 1968 by Julius Mader. Barron told the New York Times (12/25/77, p. 12) that he received 'quite a bit of help' from the CIA."

2. KGB Today: The Hidden Hand. New York: Reader's Digest Press, 1983. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984. New York: Berkley Books, 1985. [pb]

Chambers comments that "one of the first good writers on the KGB" has followed up his first volume. NameBase says that "[t]his new volume had an appendix of 200 names of Soviets expelled from foreign countries for espionage activities." According to Pforzheimer, KGB Today "largely covers different ground and later cases" than Barron's earlier work. This is a "timely look at what the Soviets call 'active measures.'"

For Milivojevic, I&NS 2.2, this "highly readable and convincing account ... gives an insight into virtually every aspect of the recent operations of the First Chief Directorate." It is heavily based on information from KGB defectors Levchenko, Hermann/Zemenek, and Kuzichkin and spy/agent of influence Hugh Hambleton.

Bledowska, Celina, and Jonathan Block. KGB-CIA: Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence Operations. New York: Exeter, 1987.

Badrich, NameBase, comments that "[t]his looks like yet another oversized coffee-table picture book.... In fact, the book's well-chosen pictures tell a story in themselves." But the authors "have also produced a literate, fast-moving narrative that succinctly lays out their well-informed, independent perspective on forty-odd years of spooking.... For a beginning reader on the world of 'intelligence,' this is a reliable overview."

Chebrikov, Viktor M., et al, eds. Istoriya sovetskikh organov gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti. (1977) (no longer available).

"This top-secret 639-page history of the Soviet state security organs was completed in 1977 under the auspices of Viktor Chebrikov, the deputy head of the KGB (who later became head of the agency). The book was intended for use in the KGB's special academy for training of senior officers. The book provides a detailed history of the KGB and its predecessor agencies from 1917 through the mid-1970s. The book is still classified top secret in Moscow and is unavailable there. The copy here was obtained in Riga, Latvia in July 1997.... Unlike in Russia, the Latvian government has declassified all documents from the Soviet era, and they are now freely available to researchers."

Conquest, Robert. The Soviet Police System. New York: Praeger, 1968. London: Bodley Head, 1968.

Pforzheimer calls The Soviet Police System a "useful volume" on the domestic aspects of Soviet intelligence; however, it is "dated." Rocca and Dziak describe the book as a "basic and indispensable survey of the development of the KGB, largely in its domestic aspects, up to 1960."

Cookridge, E.H. The Soviet Spy Net. London: Muller, 1954. The Net That Covers the World. New York: Holt, 1955.

Pforzheimer, Studies 6.2 (Spring 1962), sees this work as "[a] general review of Soviet intelligence activities."

Corson, William R., and Robert T. Crowley. The New KGB: Engine of Soviet Power. New York: Morrow, 1985.

Evaluating this work's account of the Kalamatiano case (1918-1921), Foglesong, I&NS 6.1/180/fn. 2, says that the authors' "largely undocumented tale [pp. 47-64] includes glaring factual errors, makes assertions which are contradicted by records of the case, and involves a great deal of creative writing."

Dallin, David J. Soviet Espionage. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1955. London: Oxford University Press, 1956.

Pforzheimer calls Dallin an "authoritative source" who presents "one of the most comprehensive treatments of the subject"; the book is "limited to [the] period prior to the mid-fifties." To Chambers, the book is the "first rigorous Western look at the Soviet intelligence services -- the ultimate reference on the period before the use of the term KGB." Constantinides notes that the perspective of time has diminished the importance of this early effort on this subject.

Deacon, Richard [Donald McCormick]. A History of the Russian Secret Service. New York: Taplinger, 1972. London: Muller, 1972.

Rocca and Dziak call this a "highly selective, anecdotal survey ... from the Oprichnina ... to the KGB. Actually not a 'history,' this ... book ... relies largely on secondary materials, on unaccredited 'insider' information, and on the Soviet and Western press." The GRU receives no attention.

De Poncins, Léon. Espions Soviétiques dans le Monde. Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1961.

According to Pforzheimer, Studies 6.2 (Spring 1962), this work provides "[a]n account of several important Soviet espionage cases" in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, "and of Communist espionage in France."

Deriabin, Peter.

1. Watchdogs of Terror: Russian Bodyguards from the Tsars to the Commissars. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1972. 2d ed. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984.

Pforzheimer notes that Deriabin was a "Soviet counterintelligence officer and bodyguard until his defection in 1954.... [He] traces the history of ... internal security from Kievan Rus to ... the 1970's ... [and] shows how the bodyguard system ... has been used as an instrument of terror." This work provides "unusual insights." According to Rocca and Dziak, the 1984 edition "continues the narrative through the post-Brezhnev succession."

2. and Frank Gibney. The Secret World. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959. London: Barker, 1960. New York: Ballantine Espionage/Intelligence Library, 1982. [pb]

Pforzheimer sees this as "the definitive account of the KGB ... as known by the author during his years of service." It is "highly recommended" for the 1940s through the mid-1950s. Chambers finds in it some "useful insights into Soviet internal security practices." Constantinides notes that Deriabin's information on "KGB training, tradition, methods of operation, and attitudes add considerably to the West's understanding of the Soviet intelligence and security system."

Dziak, John J.

1. Chekisty: A History of the KGB. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1988.

Cimbala, IJI&C 2.2 says this is "going to be the definitive study of the history of Soviet security services for some time. This book has many virtues." It is filled with "hard information" and historical "documentation is abundant."

2. "The Study of the Soviet Intelligence and Security System." In Comparing Foreign Intelligence: The U.S., the USSR, the U.K. & the Third World, ed. Roy Godson, 65-88. Washington, DC: Pergamon-Brassey's, 1988.

Wark, I&NS 4.1, finds that the usefulness of Dziak's focus on the Soviet Union as the "counterintelligence state" -- that is, on Soviet intelligence as "an instrument and shaper of the totalitarian state" -- "is undermined ... by [his] unwillingness to admit the validity of any other" approach.

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