10 books like Soviet Espionage

By David J Dallin,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Soviet Espionage. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Secret World

By Christopher Andrew,

Book cover of The Secret World: A History of Intelligence

My line of work has only enhanced my fascination with spies and spying. Espionage was on the periphery of my world and I was privy, on occasion, to snippets of information that shed light on certain events. Reading this book was like being privy to a host of secrets, many during my own era. How fascinating to be taken through the history of espionage from biblical times until today. The author reveals missing pieces to many significant moments in history, where monumental decisions were made based on information bought and sold, died for, killed for, stolen, or extracted by torture or coercion. Equally fascinating is how so much of that information was misinterpreted, denied, ignored, inflated, or simply misplaced. Great battles were won and lost, kingdoms toppled, fortunes spent and made, often based on a single snippet of information.

The Secret World

By Christopher Andrew,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Secret World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Almost every page includes a sizzling historical titbit ... captivating, insightful and masterly' (Edward Lucas, The Times)

The history of espionage is far older than any of today's intelligence agencies, yet the long history of intelligence operations has been largely forgotten. The first mention of espionage in world literature is in the Book of Exodus.'God sent out spies into the land of Canaan'. From there, Christopher Andrew traces the shift in the ancient world from divination to what we would recognize as attempts to gather real intelligence in the conduct of military operations, and considers how far ahead of the…


The Sword and the Shield

By Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin,

Book cover of The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

Better known as The Mitrokhin Archive, these are the first (and practically only) books, two great volumes, truly based on the secret KGB archives showing Soviet foreign intelligence operations in Europe, the USA, and the rest of the world. They cover the period from the founding of the Cheka (predecessor to the KGB) in 1917 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Again, both books are wonderfully written by Professor Andrew who had worked with Mitrokhin and his archive and represent an academic research of exceptional quality. All scholars, students and intelligence professionals must have these two books in their library. The same concerns all university libraries without any exception.

The Sword and the Shield

By Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sword and the Shield as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sword and the Shield is based on one of the most extraordinary intelligence coups of recent times: a secret archive of top-level KGB documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union which the FBI has described, after close examination, as the "most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source." Its presence in the West represents a catastrophic hemorrhage of the KGB's secrets and reveals for the first time the full extent of its worldwide network.Vasili Mitrokhin, a secret dissident who worked in the KGB archive, smuggled out copies of its most highly classified files every day for twelve…


Mi6

By Stephen Dorril,

Book cover of Mi6

Unlike the official history of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), better known as MI6, by Keith Jeffery, this book is written without the censorship of the Service presenting the facts as the author, a journalist and academic, considers fit and proper to show. Very well written and covering a considerable period of time with many secret operations, it is a very good book which The Guardian described as ‘A remarkable achievement and an encyclopaedic post-war history which any student of the secret world should read.’

Mi6

By Stephen Dorril,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mi6 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first comprehensive history of the UK government overseas intelligence service, MI6, by an acknowledged expert and author of the highly acclaimed Smear!

Epitomised in the public imagination by James Bond, MI6's svelte and glamorous image has been peeled away by Dorril's searching investigations to reveal a less savoury truth. Here is the story of MI6's recruitment operation after WW2 of former Nazis; anticommunist guerrilla campaigns in the Ukraine and the Baltic States; Operation Stalin which led to mass arrests and executions ordered by Stalin; the European terrorist network 'Gladio'; tunnels built in Vienna and Berlin known as operation 'Gold…


The Outsider

By Frederick Forsyth,

Book cover of The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue

In 2015 Forsyth published his autobiography entitled The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue. This is another excellent book written in his usual style - full of intrigue and adventures, only this time the author himself is the main protagonist. Besides, all that Forsyth describes in this book is either true or at least very close to the truth including his admitting that for a certain period of time and in certain countries he had been acting as an agent of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That doesn’t mean, of course, that Forsyth had ever been a spy, but he is certainly writing his spy novels as an insider.

All his books are extremely well written and must be studied by all intelligence professionals as textbooks. Usually, intelligence officers do not like reading because they think their life is so interesting and full of adventures that nothing can be more fascinating.…

The Outsider

By Frederick Forsyth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Outsider as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FREDERICK FORSYTH HAS SEEN IT ALL. AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE...
At eighteen, Forsyth was the youngest pilot to qualify with the RAF.
At twenty-five, he was stationed in East Berlin as a journalist during the Cold War.
Before he turned thirty, he was in Africa controversially covering the bloodiest civil war in living memory.
Three years later, broke and out of work, he wrote his game-changing first novel, The Day of the Jackal. He never looked back.
Forsyth has seen some of the most exhilarating moments of the last century from the inside, travelling the world, once or…


Spymaster

By Oleg Kalugin,

Book cover of Spymaster: My Thirty-Two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West

Kalugin was a major general in the KGB, dispatched to America as a spy under the cover of being a journalist for Radio Moscow. His account of his role in Soviet disinformation and “active measures”—forging letters, planting stories, concocting conspiracy theories—provides a rare insider look into how the KGB did business for decades. Perhaps most chilling is his description of how one of his bosses, former KGB chief turned Soviet premier Yuri Andropov—was guided by Lenin’s words: “We must be ready to employ trickery, deceit, law-breaking, withholding and concealing the truth. There are no morals in politics. There is only expedience.”

Spymaster

By Oleg Kalugin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spymaster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Oleg Kalugin oversaw the work of American spies, matched wits with the CIA, and became one of the youngest generals in KGB history. Even so, he grew increasingly disillusioned with the Soviet system. In 1990, he went public, exposing the intelligence agency's shadowy methods. Revised and updated in the light of the KGB's enduring presence in Russian politics, Spymaster is Kalugin's impressively illuminating memoir of the final years of the Soviet Union.


Operation Whisper

By Barnes Carr,

Book cover of Operation Whisper: The Capture of Soviet Spies Morris and Lona Cohen

This is the story of how British MI5 zeroed in on a spy ring led by Gordon Lonsdale (aka Konan Molody) and Helen and Peter Kroger (aka Morris and Lona Cohen who previously had been members of the Rosenberg spy group that stole the atomic secret. I was friends with the Cohens while getting my training in Moscow). The book reads like a thriller/detective story.

Operation Whisper

By Barnes Carr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Operation Whisper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Morris and Lona Cohen, an ordinary-seeming couple living on a teacher's salary in a nondescript building on the East Side of New York City. On a hot afternoon in the autumn of 1950, a trusted colleague knocked at their door, held up a finger for silence, then began scribbling a note: Go now. Leave the lights on, walk out, don't look back. Born and raised in the Bronx and recruited to play football at Mississippi State, Morris Cohen fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and with the U.S. Army in World War II. He and his…


Deep Undercover

By Jack Barsky, Cindy Coloma,

Book cover of Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America

Before stumbling across this memoir, while doing the research for my next novel, I had no idea that the Cold War saw German Communist spies living in the USA - but come to think of it, why shouldn’t they have existed on the other side of the Iron Curtain? Barsky’s story blew me away: he was sent by the KGB to the States as a sleeper agent. What “broke” him was not his challenging profession, but the love for his child — he eventually had two families, one in East Germany with a wife who knew about his true identity - and another one in the States, with a wife who didn’t.

He had a son with the German and a daughter with his Latin-American wife in the US. He wasn’t there when his son was born, but witnessed the birth of his daughter. When the Cold War ended and…

Deep Undercover

By Jack Barsky, Cindy Coloma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep Undercover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One decision can end everything . . . or lead to unlikely redemption.
Millions watched the CBS 60 Minutes special on Jack Barsky in 2015. Now, in this fascinating memoir, the Soviet KGB agent tells his story of gut-wrenching choices, appalling betrayals, his turbulent inner world, and the secret life he lived for years without getting caught.

On October 8, 1978, a Canadian national by the name of William Dyson stepped off a plane at O’Hare International Airport and proceeded toward Customs and Immigration.

Two days later, William Dyson ceased to exist.

The identity was a KGB forgery, used to…


Venona

By Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes,

Book cover of Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America

This book is a true find for history buffs. It is based on the by now declassified thousands of KGB messages that were decoded by the Venona Project. It gives clear evidence of the Soviet espionage efforts by the KGB against the United States even while the two were allies in WWII. It also proves the hitherto only rumored deep penetration of Soviet assets into the United States government. In those decrypted documents there is proof that the much-maligned Senator Joseph McCarthy was more right than wrong, albeit too frenetic and sensationalist in his pursuit of communists in the US government.  

Venona

By Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Venona as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only in 1995 did the United States government officially reveal the existence of the super-secret Venona Project. For nearly fifty years American intelligence agents had been decoding thousands of Soviet messages, uncovering an enormous range of espionage activities carried out against the United States during World War II by its own allies. So sensitive was the project in its early years that even President Truman was not informed of its existence. This extraordinary book is the first to examine the Venona messages-documents of unparalleled importance for our understanding of the history and politics of the Stalin era and the early…


Bomb

By Steve Sheinkin,

Book cover of Bomb: The Race to Build--And Steal--The World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Many books have been written about the development of the atomic bomb, most of them more technical than the average reader wants or needs. That is why I’m recommending this book. Don’t let the “Perfect for middle grade readers” in the Amazon book description put you off. The book was factual, yet read like a spy thriller. The only thing I missed was a cast of characters in the front matter, so I created a list as I read.

Bomb

By Steve Sheinkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bomb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: when placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned three continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, risk taking, deceit, and genius that created the world's…


Bridge of Spies

By Giles Whittell,

Book cover of Bridge of Spies

Giles Whittell’s narrative history tells the true story of three colorful Cold War characters, revealing much about the extraordinary tension and paranoia of that febrile time. William Fisher, aka Rudolf Abel, was a British-born KGB agent arrested in New York City and jailed for his attempt to steal America’s nuclear secrets; Gary Powers was the American pilot captured when his plane was shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over Russia; Frederic Pryor was a young American student in Berlin arrested and held without charge by East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi. Whittell skilfully narrates the interwoven stories of these three men, highlighting the political tensions that brought the United States and the Soviet Union so close to nuclear war.

Bridge of Spies

By Giles Whittell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bridge of Spies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who were the three men the Soviet and American superpowers exchanged on Berlin's Glienicke Bridge on February 10, 1962, in the first and most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West? Bridge of Spies vividly traces the journeys of these men, whose fate defines the complex conflicts that characterized the most dangerous years of the Cold War. Bridge of Spies is a true story of three men - Rudolf Abel, a Soviet Spy who was a master of disguise; Gary Powers, an American who was captured when his spy plane was shot down by the Russians; and Frederic Pryor, a…


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