Atomic Bomb Spies


L - Q

Lamphere, Robert J., and Tom Shachtman. The FBI-KGB War: A Special Agent's Story. New York: Random House, 1986. New York: Berkley, 1986. [pb] New Ed., with Post-Cold War Afterword. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995. [pb]

Lee, Sabine. "The Spy That Never Was." Intelligence and National Security 17, no. 4 (Winter 2002): 77-99.

"Though it will not be possible to prove that the late Rudolf Peierls and his wife were not involved in espionage for the Soviet Union so long as the relevant Soviet files remain closed to research, the evidence which is accessible to date leaves little doubt about the couple's allegiances" to Britain and the West.

McMillan, Priscilla J. The Ruin of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Birth of the Modern Arms Race. New York: Viking, 2005.

Powers, NYRB 52.14 (22 Sep. 2005), says that this "short, lucid, and intense book" places the "final episode in Oppenheimer's life on a dissecting table in order to separate and identify, as if it were the nervous system of a rat, the filaments of ambition, rancor, and collusion of the three brooding men who cut Oppenheimer down." The author "writes for the most part with quiet lucidity, letting each act or utterance speak for itself, but from time to time there shoots up from her prose something like a tongue of flame."

According to Freedman, FA 84.5 (Sep.-Oct. 2005), the author focuses "on the policy issues at the heart of the [Oppenheimer] drama and illuminates well the surrounding cast of characters, with lots of fascinating detail about the interaction between scientific politics and Washington politics."

Schecter, I&NS 21.4, notes that McMillan "hedg[es] and shy[s] away from" the question of whether Oppenheimer was ever a member of the Communist Party. The author "appears" to have "chosen to ignore" Soviet documents that identify Oppenheimer as "an unlisted member of the CPSU." This "is a powerful book," but at times McMillan's "anger [at the way Oppenheimer was treated] is so hot it distorts the record."

Meyerhoff, Hans. "Through the Liberal Looking Glass -- Darkly." Partisan Review 22 (1955): 238-245.

For a flavor of the passions of the times, this article should be read in conjunction with Diana Trilling's defense of J. Robert Oppenheimer in "The Oppenheimer Case: A Reading of the Testimony," Partisan Review 21 (1954): 604-635. See also Diana Trilling, "A Rejoinder to H. Meyerhoff," Partisan Review 22 (1955): 248-251.

Moorehead, Alan. The Traitors: The Double Life of Fuchs, Pontecorvo and Nunn May. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1952.

According to West, I&NS 19.2/277, Moorehead was fed "sanitised versions of MI5's files on Allan Nunn May, Klaus Fuchs and Bruno Pontecorvo..., thus ensuring The Traitors provided a less than accurate version of the atomic spies."

Newman, Bernard C. Soviet Atomic Spies. London: Robert Hale, 1952. [Petersen]

Pilat, Oliver Ramsey. The Atom Spies. New York: Putnam, 1952.

Polenberg, Richard, ed. In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer: The Security Clearance Hearing. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002.

West, cicentre.com, notes that Polenberg has edited the transcript of the 1954 Personnel Security Board hearing to about a quarter of its original 1,000 pages and added an Introduction and Conclusion. According to the reviewer, Polenberg sees Oppenheimer as "a casualty of McCarthyism." West also remarks that "[t]he hearings were not a manifestation of some groundless paranoia about Russian spies, but a direct consequence of the absolute confidence that dozens of NKVD agents had stolen huge quantities of atomic secrets."

Powers, Thomas. "Phantom Spies at Los Alamos." New York Review of Books, 9 Jun. 1994. Chapter 4 in Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda, 59-79. Rev. & exp. ed. New York: New York Review of Books, 2004.

The author rejects the charges in Sudoplatov's Special Tasks (1994) that Oppenheimer, Fermi. Szilard, and Bohr "served as spies for the Soviet Union during the Second World War.... [T]he charges against Oppenheimer in Sudoplatov's book tend to evaporate on scrutiny." There is a "complete lack of the establishing and supporting details[] that are the signature of genuine espionage cases.... [I]n the few cases where details are cited they are irrelevant, misleading, or blatantly wrong." In addition, "[i]t is impossible to distinguish Sudoplatov's real memories, however confused by age and years, from the Schectors' own research and general editorial tidying up."

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