100 books like The Rosenberg File

By Ronald Radosh, Joyce Milton,

Here are 100 books that The Rosenberg File fans have personally recommended if you like The Rosenberg File. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Merle Nygate Author Of The Righteous Spy

From my list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written and script edited in a lot of different genres, from factual drama to sitcom, children’s TV to fantasy. I’ve always loved spy stories, and I’ve always wanted to write one. Recently, at the University of East Anglia I studied for an MA in Crime Fiction, and that’s where I finally got the chance to study espionage and write a spy novel myself. I hope you enjoy my selection of books if you haven’t already read them. Or even if you have. They’re all so good that I feel like re-reading them right now. 

Merle's book list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves

Merle Nygate Why did Merle love this book?

This is a non-fiction book but it reads like a novel and explores one of the great mysteries of the spy world: how on earth did Kim Philby manage to betray not only his country but also his friends over so many years? 

A former spy I had the privilege of interviewing described Philby as a shit, so maybe there’s the answer. I think this is a terrific read, and although Macintyre probably isn’t a spy, like Deighton, he knows them. 

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

12 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…


Book cover of Whittaker Chambers: A Biography

Harvey Klehr Author Of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

From my list on Soviet espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

For more than fifty years I have been fascinated by the relationship between the Communist Party of the United States and the Soviet Union. When Russian archives were opened to Western scholars after the collapse of the USSR, I was the first American to work in a previously closed archive where I discovered evidence that American communists had spied for the Soviets. Our understanding of twentieth-century history has been transformed by the revelations about the extent to which Soviet spies had infiltrated American institutions. Excavating long-buried secrets is a historian's dream!

Harvey's book list on Soviet espionage

Harvey Klehr Why did Harvey love this book?

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.

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…


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

Harvey Klehr Author Of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

From my list on Soviet espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

For more than fifty years I have been fascinated by the relationship between the Communist Party of the United States and the Soviet Union. When Russian archives were opened to Western scholars after the collapse of the USSR, I was the first American to work in a previously closed archive where I discovered evidence that American communists had spied for the Soviets. Our understanding of twentieth-century history has been transformed by the revelations about the extent to which Soviet spies had infiltrated American institutions. Excavating long-buried secrets is a historian's dream!

Harvey's book list on Soviet espionage

Harvey Klehr Why did Harvey love this book?

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.

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…


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

Harvey Klehr Author Of Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

From my list on Soviet espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

For more than fifty years I have been fascinated by the relationship between the Communist Party of the United States and the Soviet Union. When Russian archives were opened to Western scholars after the collapse of the USSR, I was the first American to work in a previously closed archive where I discovered evidence that American communists had spied for the Soviets. Our understanding of twentieth-century history has been transformed by the revelations about the extent to which Soviet spies had infiltrated American institutions. Excavating long-buried secrets is a historian's dream!

Harvey's book list on Soviet espionage

Harvey Klehr Why did Harvey love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Book of Daniel

Andrew Altschul Author Of The Gringa

From my list on to make you rethink America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in a comfortable suburb, I was never encouraged to examine my privilege or to ask questions about our country’s social and economic arrangements. I knew shockingly little about U.S. history beyond the triumphalist narratives of great men and military victories; the dark side of that history usually came in footnotes, and always with the implication that our country’s sins are mere aberrations from its good intentions. I had to learn the most important truths about our history from literature, which shows us the impact that events have on individuals, painting a fuller picture of how America became the country it is, and the terrible price so many people have had to pay.

Andrew's book list on to make you rethink America

Andrew Altschul Why did Andrew love this book?

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.

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…


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

Barron H. Lerner Author Of The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics

From my list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case.

Why am I passionate about this?

The executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg seem so distant that it is jarring for me to contemplate that I was born in 1960, only seven years after their deaths. Growing up Jewish, I often heard the Rosenberg case invoked as an example of anti-Semitism. But it was not until I was an undergraduate history major that I read the scholarly literature about the Rosenbergs and subscribed to the newsletter of the Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case. My ongoing interest in the case helps me remind students about two crucial points: ongoing historical scholarship gets us closer to the “truth” but we may never know what “actually” happened. Which is OK.

Barron's book list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case

Barron H. Lerner Why did Barron love this book?

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.

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


Book cover of Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

Barron H. Lerner Author Of The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics

From my list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case.

Why am I passionate about this?

The executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg seem so distant that it is jarring for me to contemplate that I was born in 1960, only seven years after their deaths. Growing up Jewish, I often heard the Rosenberg case invoked as an example of anti-Semitism. But it was not until I was an undergraduate history major that I read the scholarly literature about the Rosenbergs and subscribed to the newsletter of the Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case. My ongoing interest in the case helps me remind students about two crucial points: ongoing historical scholarship gets us closer to the “truth” but we may never know what “actually” happened. Which is OK.

Barron's book list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case

Barron H. Lerner Why did Barron love this book?

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.

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…


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

Jonathan Schneer Author Of The Lockhart Plot: Love, Betrayal, Assassination and Counter-Revolution in Lenin's Russia

From my list on a historian's view about spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a modern British historian who loves to read thrillers and non-fiction histories of spies. I’ve done it all my adult life. Moreover, I’ve always been fascinated by the Russian Revolution: its early idealism, the curdling of idealism. When the daughter of Moura von Benckendorff, (R.H. Bruce Lockhart’s great love) told me about her mother and Lockhart, I realized I had an opportunity to combine my vocation and my avocation. The result is my book, The Lockhart Plot.

Jonathan's book list on a historian's view about spies

Jonathan Schneer Why did Jonathan love this book?

I grew up believing that the US Government framed and then executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 to whip up anti-Communist hysteria. I was wrong. First of all, Julius was guilty; secondly, it was not the government that framed Ethel, but her own brother, David Greenglass. He did it to save his own skin, for he had passed documents to his brother-in-law (although they proved worthless to the Russians). Also, he wanted to save his wife, who had typed a few things for Julius. Sixty years later he came clean to Sam Roberts. This book is a revelation, an examination of the mind of a sociopath. Like Kim Philby, David Greenglass had no heart, nor pity, nor regrets. 

By Sam Roberts,

Why should I read it?

2 authors 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.…


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

Barron H. Lerner Author Of The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics

From my list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case.

Why am I passionate about this?

The executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg seem so distant that it is jarring for me to contemplate that I was born in 1960, only seven years after their deaths. Growing up Jewish, I often heard the Rosenberg case invoked as an example of anti-Semitism. But it was not until I was an undergraduate history major that I read the scholarly literature about the Rosenbergs and subscribed to the newsletter of the Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case. My ongoing interest in the case helps me remind students about two crucial points: ongoing historical scholarship gets us closer to the “truth” but we may never know what “actually” happened. Which is OK.

Barron's book list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case

Barron H. Lerner Why did Barron love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West

Mark Hollingsworth Author Of Agents of Influence: How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies

From my list on the KGB, Russia and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing about Russia for the past 20 years for all the UK national newspapers, The Spectator and contributed to several TV documentaries. I am fascinated by Russia which is a unique country and has been a major influence on the world for the past 100 years. Based on new documents, my book Londongrad - From Russia with Cash revealed how Russian Oligarchs made their wealth, moved it out of Russia, hid their fortunes and then parked and spent it in London. My new book - Agents of Influence - provides an insight into how the KGB influenced the West based on new archives.

Mark's book list on the KGB, Russia and espionage

Mark Hollingsworth Why did Mark love this book?

Based on an unprecedented treasure trove of documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union by former intelligence officer Vasily Mitrokhin, this book demonstrated the KGB operations used in an attempt to destabilise the West during the Cold War - disinformation, forgery of documents, honey trapping, smears, surveillance and recruiting agents of influence and politicians in the UK, NATO countries and the USA.

I am recommending The Mitrokhin Archive because it is based on primary documents.  So many books about espionage are based on memories and speculation, while the Mitrokhin Archive's value is that its assertions and revelations are based on actual KGB documents. 

And so this book was indispensable for my research for my book.

By Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'One of the biggest intelligence coups in recent years' The Times

For years KGB operative Vasili Mitrokhin risked his life hiding top-secret material from Russian secret service archives beneath his family dacha. When he was exfiltrated to the West he took with him what the FBI called 'the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source'. This extraordinary bestselling book is the result.

'Co-authored in a brilliant partnership by Christopher Andrew and the renegade Soviet archivist himself ... This is a truly global expose of major KGB penetrations throughout the Western world' The Times

'This tale of malevolent…


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