Spy Cases

Andrew and Mitrokhin

Included here:

1. Andrew, Christopher, and Vasili Mitrokhin. 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.

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

1. Andrew, Christopher, and Vasili Mitrokhin. 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.

Former DCI R. James Woolsey, Proceedings 126.4 (Apr. 2000), sees this "remarkable book" as "the closest we ever will come to a full and objective history of the KGB from 1918 to 1985."

Crossland, Sunday Times (London), 19 Sep. 1999, says that "Mitrokhin seems to be giving us a head-on view into the dark mirror of Moscow Centre, weaving its web of destabilisation and disinformation to ensnare the capitalist enemy. He has given Andrew some fascinating material for his absorbing excursions into this secret world.... The publication of this book is timely, following on the revelations on the 'Venona' code-breaking coup that came out in the spring.... Mitrokhin brings the cold war espionage story right up to glasnost and the end of the Soviet empire."

For Brook-Shepherd, Times (London), 23 Sep. 1999, the co-authors of this work represent "a brilliant partnership." KGB archivist Mitrokhin "copied extracts from the mountain of 300,000 files which passed through his hands.... The notes ... were 'exfiltrated' back to London by the SIS in 1992 when Mitrokhin" defected to the West. These notes "represent what is probably the biggest and most valuable hoard of information ever captured by the West during its 80-year tussle with Russian Intelligence."

The reviewer notes that the prepublication publicity was overly focused on the British aspects of the revelations in Mitrokhin's notes. For example, "exposure of great grandmama Melita Norwood ... was presented as a world-shaking event.... Yet she rates less than six of the book's 995 pages." Nevertheless, "[t]his is a truly global expose of major KGB penetrations throughout the Western world." For all its size and detail, there are still omissions in this work, and it is expected that a follow-up work will fill in some the gaps.

Delaney, Amazon.com, comments that "Mitrokhin's detailed notes are well served by Andrew, who writes forcefully and clearly." Within the pages of this book, Mitrokhin's notes reveal "operations aimed at discrediting high-profile Americans, from Martin Luther King to Ronald Reagan; secret arms caches still hidden -- and boobytrapped -- throughout the West; disinformation efforts, including forging a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald in an attempt to implicate the CIA in the assassination of JFK; attempts to stir up racial tensions in the U.S. by sending hate mail and even bombs; and the existence of deep-cover agents in North America and Europe -- some of whom were effectively 'outed' when the book was published."

To Uhler, Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 Nov. 1999, there are some problems in the conclusions to be drawn from this book: "Notwithstanding [Andrew's] exceptional accomplishment of distilling Mitrokhin's information into a revised history of the KGB, his narrow focus on intelligence creates a trap from which he cannot escape. The result is yet one more book that concludes that the Soviet Union failed because its system was not like ours and implies that Russia will fail if it does not adopt our system."

Terming Uhler's review (see above) "bizarre," Ruffin, Johnson's Russia List, 17 Nov. 1999, sees the book as "a sober and judicious piece of history.... Uhler's classification of the book as 'Post-Cold War Triumphalist Revisionism,'" constitutes a "gross mischaracterization[]."

Wise, Washington Post, 6 Dec. 1999, believes that this "[d]ense, meticulously footnoted" work "by Britain's leading intelligence historian ... will stand as an indispensable reference work on Soviet espionage for years to come." But he also notes that "[a] book sponsored by an intelligence agency must be approached with caution.... MI6 and MI5 ... presumably have their own agenda in making the Mitrokhin material public." Beyond the Mitrokhin materials, "Andrew draws on many other published works to tell old, familiar tales. But they are told well and accurately, even if Mitrokhin's notes often add little or nothing to what is already known. In many instances, however, Mitrokhin's files provide fascinating new insights into old cases."

In a lengthy review, Whitaker, intelforum-digest, 17 Jan. 2000, decides that "there is no doubt" that The Mitrokhin Archive "is an extremely valuable addition to the literature on Soviet and Cold war espionage, albeit with questionable origins.... [F]or those who are serious about the study of espionage, this is ... a very useful compendium.... [T]here is ... much new material here, as well as the addition of greater detail and texture to elucidate stories that have, until now, remained conjectural."

Powers, NYRB (11 May 2000) and Intelligence Wars (2004), 94, calls this a "brisk, useful, and comprehensive history of Soviet intelligence activity," but finds "one serious flaw: it is printed in minuscule type.... The 135 pages of notes and bibliography ... are in type smaller still and will require the assistance of a magnifying device by all but the very young.... [This] was a signal disservice to an important book which will be consulted by scholars for many years to come."

Although Mitrokhin's notes "represent the most astonishing disclosures ever made from within the KGB's vast collection of dossiers," West, IJI&C 13.2, points to "some difficulty in distinguishing between the material supplied by Mitrokhin and his co-author's gap-filling" from his own research.

Webster, JMH 64.3, points out that the materials in the "archive" remain classified and unavailable for independent checking, but adds that "the sheer weight of material presented ... is impressive and convincing." In addition, "the book's engaging style and fascinating story ... make it highly readable."

For Cohen, FA 79.2, this "is a dense but extraordinary work.... There are no huge surprises here.... But the weight of detail and the solid retelling of well-known stories, such as Soviet recruitment of British spies in the 1930s, make for a fascinating read."

Redmond, cicentre.com, calls the publication of this book "a landmark event.... Andrew has done a superb job in taking Mitrokhin's material, much of it fragmentary, and combining it with hundreds of other sources to draw [a] full, coherent picture.... Mitrokhin's data about KGB covert action operations, efforts to interfere in the internal affairs of the United States, whether merely discussed, planned or actually implemented, are stunning."

See Christopher Andrew, "The Mitrokhin Archive," RUSI Journal, Feb. 2000, 52-56, for a discussion of Mitrokhin's "archive" and what the materials he collected mean to assessing the role of the KGB in the Soviet years.

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

This is a follow-on to The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (1999), using the materials KGB archivist Mitrokhin made available when he defected in 1992. While the earlier book focused on Europe and the United States, The World Was Going Our Way covers KGB operations throughout the Third World.

Peake, Studies 50.4 (2006) and Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), notes that "[e]ach of the four geographic parts of the book [Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa] begins with an introduction wherein Professor Andrew describes the political circumstances of the period concerned and lays out the ... role the KGB played in promoting Soviet foreign policy in the region. In the substantive portions ... Mitrokhin's files portray KGB activities in the Third World in great detail." The first volume of Mitrokhin's materials shows how hard the Soviets "tried to subvert the West. Volume two leaves no doubt that the KGB made an even greater attempt to ... subvert[] Third World nations. And almost until the end they believed that the world was really going their way."

For Stempel, IJI&C 20.1 (Spring 2007), 134/fn.8, this "is an excellent generic review of Soviet activities."

I&NS 23.5 (Oct.2008): 726-733, carries a "Roundtable Review" of this work: John Earl Haynes finds that "Andrew greatly increases one's confidence in the reliability of Mitrokhin's material by supplying historical context and immersing Mitrokhin's particulars in supporting and corroborating material." This work and The Sword and Shield are "essential reading for any historian of Cold War espionage." For Mark Atwood Lawrence, "[i]n many ways, the book lives up to its promise to tell a sensational new story. Page after page narrates in astonishing detail a wide array of ultra-secret KGB schemes." Marc T. Berger believes that "[t]he main contribution of this book is in its detail." It "is particularly good on India and Afghanistan, but weaker on the Middle East."

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