10 books like The Rosenberg File

By Ronald Radosh, Joyce Milton,

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

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A Spy Among Friends

By Ben Macintyre,

Book cover of A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

This is a book principally about Kim Philby, the once head of Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union who was exposed as a double agent. There's a lot about this master spy’s activities in the Lebanese capital in the lead-up to his defection to Moscow from there in January of 1963. In 1960 Philby made a tour of the Middle East to write some articles, including stopping in Kuwait which inspired some of the action in my own book. I love any work by Ben Macintyre but this book appealed to me especially. It’s got some great photos in it and, trite as it sounds, I couldn’t put it down.

A Spy Among Friends

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked A Spy Among Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and…


Whittaker Chambers

By Sam Tanenhaus,

Book cover of Whittaker Chambers: A Biography

The Alger Hiss case riveted America in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His trial and conviction convince many Americans that Communist espionage had been a serious problem and the case made Richard Nixon a national figure. His chief accuser, Whittaker Chambers, was a fascinating, tormented, talented man and writer. Tanenhaus’s biography portrays him with all his virtues, warts, and contradictions.

Whittaker Chambers

By Sam Tanenhaus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

[Audiobook CD Library Edition in vinyl case.]

[Read by Edward Lewis]

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist

Whittaker Chambers is the first biography of this complex and enigmatic figure. Drawing on dozens of interviews and on materials from forty archives in the United States and abroad -- including still-classified KGB dossiers -- Tanenhaus traces the remarkable journey that led Chambers from a sleepy Long Island village to center stage in America's greatest political trial and then, in his last years, to a unique role as the godfather of post-war conservatism.

This…


Engineering Communism

By Steven T. Usdin,

Book cover of Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley

In addition to facilitating atomic espionage, Julius Rosenberg supervised several engineers who stole vital technical secrets dealing with radar, sonar, and aviation.  Usdin tells the fascinating story of two of them, Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, who defected to the Soviet Union after the Rosenbergs were arrested and helped build the Soviet Silicon Valley.

Engineering Communism

By Steven T. Usdin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Engineering Communism is the fascinating story of Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, dedicated Communists and members of the Rosenberg spy ring, who stole information from the United States during World War II that proved crucial to building the first advanced weapons systems in the USSR. On the brink of arrest, they escaped with KGB's help and eluded American intelligence for decades.

Drawing on extensive interviews with Barr and new archival evidence, Steve Usdin explains why Barr and Sarant became spies, how they obtained military secrets, and how FBI blunders led to their escape. He chronicles their pioneering role in the…


Bombshell

By Joseph Albright, Marcia Kunstel,

Book cover of Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy

The story of the youngest physicist at Los Alamos, Ted Hall, who volunteered to spy for the KGB and provided vital atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Although Hall’s treachery was discovered by American counter-intelligence, he was never prosecuted to avoid alerting the Soviets that the United States had decrypted their top-secret WWII cables. Albright and Kunstel tell the story of an idealistic, naïve and arrogant spy.

Bombshell

By Joseph Albright, Marcia Kunstel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ted Hall was a physics prodigy so gifted that he was asked to join the Manhattan Project when he was only eighteen years old.  There, in wartime Los Alamos, working under Robert Oppenheimer and Bruno Rossi, Hall helped build the atomic bomb.  To his friends and coworkers he was a brilliant young rebel with a boundless future in atomic science.  To his Soviet spymasters, he was something else: "Mlad," their mole within Los Alamos, a most hidden and valuable asset and the men who first slipped them the secrets to the making of the atomic bomb.

In a book that…


The Book of Daniel

By E.L. Doctorow,

Book cover of The Book of Daniel

In 1953, a working-class Jewish couple from Brooklyn was executed for allegedly selling nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Their two young children were orphaned. E. L. Doctorow’s novel about the Rosenbergs is an excruciating examination of these events from the fictionalized perspective of one of those children. Daniel’s point of view—naïve, angry, traumatizedbrilliantly illustrates the absurdity and cruelty of American culture when it turns against those who, for reasons of class, race, or religion, have never been fully included in it. I’ve read it a dozen times and still find myself sobbing at the realization of how all the country’s history, all its dreams and delusions about itself and its destiny, were stacked up against this poor pair of nobodies. Their real crime lay in demanding that the United States live up to its ideals, something it has never been able to do.

The Book of Daniel

By E.L. Doctorow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the trial and execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, convicted of delivering information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel includes a new introduction by Jonathan Freedland in Penguin Modern Classics.

As Cold War hysteria inflames America, FBI agents pay a surprise visit to a Communist man and his wife in their New York apartment. After a trial that divides the country, the couple are sent to the electric chair for treason. Decades later, in 1967, their son Daniel struggles to understand the tragedy of their lives. But while he is…


The Brother

By Sam Roberts,

Book cover of The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case

Roberts, a journalist with the New York Times, provided a very needed update of the Rosenberg story in 2001. Roberts benefitted from the 1995 disclosures of the Venona project, an American spy operation that decoded World War II Soviet intelligence. Julius Rosenberg, the transcripts revealed, had indeed spied for the Soviet Union, although his wife Ethel was not implicated. Even more remarkably, Roberts, in a feat of journalistic derring-do, had managed to track down David Greenglass, the brother of Ethel Rosenberg whose testimony about Julius’s and Ethel’s supposed involvement in passing secrets to the Soviets had led to their convictions and deaths. Greenglass, previously in hiding, admitted that he had lied about his sister’s involvement to help exonerate his wife. There may be no more stunning confession in American history.

The Brother

By Sam Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A fresh and fast-paced study of one of the most important crimes of the twentieth century” (The Washington Post), The Brother now discloses new information revealed since the original publication in 2003—including an admission by his sons that Julius Rosenberg was indeed a Soviet spy and a confession to the author by the Rosenbergs’ co-defendant.

Sixty years after their execution in June 1953 for conspiring to steal atomic secrets, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg remain the subjects of great emotional debate and acrimony. The man whose testimony almost single-handedly convicted them was Ethel Rosenberg’s own brother, David Greenglass, who recently died.…


Invitation to an Inquest

By Walter Schneir, Miriam Schneir,

Book cover of Invitation to an Inquest: A New Look at the Rosenberg-Sobell Case

The Schneirs did not write the first book on the famous case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, New Yorkers who were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1951 and put to death by the U.S. government in 1953. But for 20 years after its publication in 1965, their book became the definitive version of how the Rosenbergs had been victims of a grave miscarriage of justice, convicted of a crime “that never occurred”.

When the Schneirs published a revised version in 1983, its claims directly conflicted with those of another 1983 book, The Rosenberg File by Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, which argued that during World War II, Julius Rosenberg had absolutely been a spy who shared atomic secrets with the Soviet Union. These divergent views led to a very public debate over the Rosenbergs’ guilt.

Invitation to an Inquest

By Walter Schneir, Miriam Schneir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invitation to an Inquest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Currents Affairs, Politics, Espiaonage


We Are Your Sons

By Robert Meeropol, Michael Meeropol,

Book cover of We Are Your Sons: The Legacy of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

This book was written in 1975 by the two Rosenberg children left orphaned after their parents were executed. Relying on Schneir as well as their own research, they also powerfully argued that their parents were innocent. Even though later disclosures would contradict this conclusion, the book is a moving and fascinating document that tells the previously secret story of whatever happened to the two Rosenberg boys—aged 10 and 6 at the time of their parents' death—whose parents had seemingly sacrificed their lives for a political cause. It turns out that the boys had quietly been adopted by a politically progressive New York family, the Meeropols, and then successfully pursued academic careers, gottten married, and had children of their own.

We Are Your Sons

By Robert Meeropol, Michael Meeropol,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Are Your Sons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1950 Ethel & Julius Rosenberg lived with their two sons on New York's Lower East Side. The boys visited their father's machine shop on Houston Street, rode subways to the Bronz Zoo, were avid Brooklyn Dodger fans. Abruptly one day their life together dissolved - Julius was imprisoned, then Ethel; accused of "The Crime of the Century". They were utltimately sent to the electric chair; their sons were shunted between reluctant relatives and children's shelters. Eventually they were adopted and protected from the public eye. In this book the sons tell their own story, weaving together the nightmare events…


Ethel Rosenberg

By Anne Sebba,

Book cover of Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

This 2021 book, the latest in the Rosenberg oeuvre, not only recounts the history of what happened to the Rosenbergs but chronicles past historical accounts. One of the most important legacies of this literature is to remind us how all events are historically grounded. The Schneirs wrote that the Rosenberg trial “was a product of its times, displaying in microcosm many of the prevalent sociopolitical assumptions and preoccupations of the day.” The same could be said of the books by the Schneirs, the Meeropols, and Doctorow, which viewed the Rosenbergs through the sympathetic prism of American progressivism of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sebba also explores the enduring mystery of the “single-minded” Ethel Rosenberg, a “tragic figure” who herself committed no espionage but orphaned her sons rather than naming names or implicating her husband.

Ethel Rosenberg

By Anne Sebba,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ethel Rosenberg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A heart-piercingly brilliant book about a woman whose personal life put her in the cross-hairs of history' HADLEY FREEMAN
'Totally riveting. I couldn't put it down' VICTORIA HISLOP
'Ethel sings out for all women who have been misunderstood and wronged, and refuse to bow down' NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE
'A shocking tale of betrayal, naivety, misogyny and judicial failure' SONIA PURNELL
'A historic miscarriage of justice laid bare for our times' PHILIPPE SANDS

Ethel Rosenberg was a supportive wife, loving mother to two small children and courageous idealist who grew up during the Depression with aspirations to become an opera singer.

On…


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…


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