The Walker Spy Ring

Michael Lance Walker, 37, son of the Walker family spy ring's leader, John A. Walker, Jr., was released from a halfway house in Boston on 16 February 2000. He had served the mandatory part, 15 years, of a 25-year prison sentence. Associated Press, "Soviet Spy Ring Member Released," 16 Feb. 2000.

John Walker died in prison on 28 August 2014.

Allen, Thomas B., and Norman Polmar. Merchants of Treason: America's Secrets for Sale. New York: Delacorte, 1988. New York: Dell, 1988. [pb]

Bamford, James. "The Walker Espionage Case." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 12, no. 5 (May 1986): 110-119.

Barron, John. Breaking the Ring: The Bizarre Case of the Walker Family Spy Ring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

Blum, Howard. I Pledge Allegiance... The True Story of the Walkers: An American Spy Family. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

Cashman, Brian A. "Naval Counterintelligence: Investigating the Walker Espionage Crime Scene." American Intelligence Journal 20, nos. 1 & 2 (Winter 2000-2001): 43-45. "Investigating the Walker Espionage Crime Scene." Intelligencer 11, no. 2 (Winter 2000): 29-31.

The author seeks "to provide a glimpse ... into the crime scene examination of John A. Walker's home by a joint FBI/US Naval Investigative Service team of special agents searching for evidence of espionage."

CNN. "CIA Spy Hunter Talks to CNN about Notorious Turncoats." 29 May 2000. [http://www.cnn.com/2000/US/05/29/cia.spy.02/index.html]

In an interview with CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor, Richard Haver, former executive director of the CIA's Community Management Staff, "talks about his experiences with ... John Anthony Walker; Aldrich Ames,... and Jonathan Pollard." (Includes video clips of interview.)

Earley, Pete. Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring. New York: Bantam Books, 1988.

Hunter, Robert W., and Lynn Dean Hunter. Spy Hunter: Inside the FBI Investigation of the Walker Espionage Case. Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1999.

Clark comment: The first new book on the Walker spy ring in years came from the FBI's lead investigator on the case. Although there is some hyperbole in calling Walker's "the largest and most damaging espionage ring of American citizens in the history of our nation," Spy Hunter does provide an insider's look at an important counterintelligence case. The story told is both sleazy and cautionary. While it will win no literary prizes, the language is serviceable and moves the narrative along well enough to make the book a relatively quick read. Of course, only 65 of the book's total of 218 pages are devoted to the period up to Walker's arrest, with the remainder covering the aftermath.

A couple of sidenotes: (1) In Ch. 24, pp. 154-159, Hunter savages the Naval Investigative Service ("I reached the conclusion that it was one screwed-up outfit"). Deserved or just pay-back time? (2) On p. 169, Hunter tells of a meeting in Vienna with Felix Bloch, "minister-counselor of the [U.S.] embassy." Hunter attributes Bloch's aloofness and seeming disinterest in the Walker case to the later suspicions that Bloch was himself engaged in espionage. Sorry, but having served with Felix Bloch, I would say that aloofness and an extremely reserved manner were standard issue for the man, whatever the subject.

Sullivan, NWCR (Summer 2000), finds Hunter to be "a talented storyteller" who has produced a "fascinating narrative." For Kruh, Cryptologia 24.1, "Hunter offers a close-up at how the investigation was conducted with the accuracy and attention to detail that only he can provide.... [H]e allows the reader not only behind the scenes but into his mind as he plots his course of action."

Kneece, Jack. Family Treason: The Walker Spy Case. Briar Cliff Manor, NY: Stein & Day, 1986.

Smith, Esmond D. [CAPT/USN (Ret.)] "ULTRA and the Walkers." U.S Naval Institute Proceedings 115, no. 5 (May 1989): 110-119.

Walker, John A., Jr. My Life as a Spy. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2008.

Goulden, Washington Times, 14 Dec. 2008, and Intelligencer 17.1 (Winter-Spring 2009), finds substantial amounts of nonsense and whining in this "pained attempt" by a traitor "at self-justification." Walker makes claims in this book, which suggest "that three-plus decades in a prison cell addled what few brains he ever had." One such is his "claim that he was spirited into Czechoslovakia during a 1982 crisis to personally brief KGB chairman Yuri Andropov on whether President Reagan intended a nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R." Clark comment: Goulden elicited a chuckle from this reader with his line that "Walker's yarn ... might make a good Oliver Stone movie."

To Peake, Studies 53.4 (Dec. 2009), "[t]here is very little new in this book." Both the story of Walker's spying and of his family life "are covered in more detail by Pete Earley in Family of Spies." Herrington, Parameters 36.4 (Winter 2009-2010), comments that "Walker's tone is that of a sophisticated internationalist, lecturing to the naïve American masses about the evils of their government, and why he came to believe that it was his duty to become a player in the Cold War." In addition, "the disjointed recitation of his sexual conquests and the litany of self-justifications contained in this work make for bad reading."

Walker, Laura. Daughter of Deceit. Dallas, TX: Word, 1988.

John Walker's daughter.

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