is the product of an unprecedented collaboration between two veteran intelligence officers--one with the CIA, the other with the KGB--who worked on opposite sides in postwar Berlin. With the help of journalist George Bailey, they have told what will likely stand as the definitive account of those remarkable years. The KGB had the advantage of existing, in one form or another, since the Russian Revolution, while the CIA was a fledgling agency. But KGB agents and analysts were under chronic pressure to twist their intelligence reports for political reasons, which evened the scales somewhat.
Armed with information from numerous interviews, access to previously secret documents (many reproduced in the book), extensive research, and their own recollections, the authors roam the existing Cold War literature, correcting lies and false conclusions, putting rumors to rest, and exposing ignorance--in short, setting the record straight. They provide definitive accounts of many key episodes, including the double defection of Otto John, the head of West German counterespionage, and the famous tunnel incident of 1955-56, in which an American tunnel into the Soviet sector was exposed by a highly placed informant and then "discovered" in an elaborate ploy to protect the agent. Battleground Berlin is a remarkable amalgam. It is a fascinating, sometimes gripping spy story, complete with safe houses, forged identities, double agents, and street-corner rendezvous; it is also a scrupulously researched piece of historical scholarship and analysis.
From Kirkus Reviews
A troika of erstwhile adversaries team up to deliver an absorbing and authoritative inside view of how American and Soviet- bloc intelligence agencies plied their offbeat trade in divided Berlin during the first 15 years of the Cold War. Drawing on newly available archival material and their own experiences, Murphy (a sometime chief of the CIA's Berlin station), Kondrashev (who headed the KGB's German Section), and Bailey (a former director of Radio Liberty) offer an essentially chronological account of who was spying on whom in Berlin and to what avail, from V-E Day through the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Before getting down to business, however, they provide brief rundowns on the major services, including the fledgling CIA, the thoroughly professional KGB, and East Germany's Stasi. Having set the scene, the authors recount the facts behind convulsive events that produced headlines throughout the world. Cases in point range from the 1953 uprisings in the German Democratic Republic, the tunnel the CIA dug to eavesdrop on supposedly secure phone conversations originating in the Eastern Sector, the cover- organization games played by both sides, counterintelligence as well as disinformation efforts and propaganda campaigns (e.g., Nikita Khrushchev's threat to sign a separate peace agreement with the GDR), and, of course, the Wall. Covered as well are the stories of high-profile defectors (Pyotr Popov, Otto John, et al.), interservice rivalries (notably, between the KGB and the Stasi). Both Moscow and Washington, the authors point out, ignored some crucial, first-rate intelligence gathered by their operatives in the field. Eye-opening detail on cloak-and-dagger operations in a conquered capital city that once threatened to alter the balance of world power and breach the world's hard-won peace. (illustrations, not seen) (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.