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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2002
I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Pacepa while he was a client of the Jamestown Foundation, where I was working.
First, this book was not checked out in advance with the CIA or any other government agency as some reviewers have suggested. People would be very surprised at the frequently rough relationships between defectors and the US intelligence community. At any rate, the US does not dictate or control what these people write.
Rather than focus on some of the many titilating stories in the book, this work is best used as a window on a very strict, ruthless dictatorship. Not many works can provide the kind of insight as this one.
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2004
As a Romanian who lived in the Ceausescu's workers paradise for 26 years I know too well the tactics of the shady people who work for today's romanian secret police.

Why?

Because they are THE SAME PEOPLE who worked for Ceausescu's Securitate.

They only changed their organization name and their master,the president of Romania Ion Iliescu -the man who was elected 3 times even if the constitution of Romania allows only 2 mandates.

Comrade Ion Iliescu is an old KGB agent infiltrated by russians in Ceausescu's communist party (yes it's true, the russians didn't trusted nobody)

So if you read negative comments about Pacepa's book, keep in mind Securitate's people are alive and well. They hold high positions of power and privilege in today's Romania, running big companies, banks, holding senatorial seats in the parliament or running branches of the executive.

And sometimes they take a couple of minutes to write a bad review to Pacepa's book on Amazon.com trying to accuse Pacepa,

the man who was a consel to president Reagan in being a traitor and bleaching the miserable image of their ex-commander in chief the murderous dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu.
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98 of 117 people found the following review helpful
Pacepa's well-known and smoothly written _Red Horizons_ does make for a titillating view of the role of Romania's foreign intelligence during his tenure as DIE chief, Romania's relationship to East and West, and eye-popping eyewitness details of the smarmy occurrences and attitudes in Ceausescu's inner circle. However, as a postcommunist analyst of Romania reading some of the reviews below, I need to inject some notes of caution.
Readers should be careful of taking everything Pacepa says as the gospel truth for at least four reasons:
1) When the director of a foreign intelligence service defects to the US, you can pretty much bet any publicly available memoirs have been vetted by the CIA and its ghostwriters before publishing. I.e., what was left out? And how the hell do we fact-check what's left, to be sure there wasn't some disinformation or exaggeration going on (as someone pointed out, the book was launched in 1987, two years before Ceausescu's fall)?
2) Pacepa defected in 1978, right as things were really starting to spiral down the tubes internally in Romania. Anything after that, you won't find in this book or else it's not eyewitness stuff. He had not yet attained the higher reaches of power when *hundreds* of thousands endured the physical as well as psychological terror of Ceausescu's predecessor, Gheorghiu-Dej, as opposed to the *tens* of thousands enduring somewhat more psychological pressure (i.e., much fewer executions) under Ceausescu. Still, Pacepa had to have known a great deal about the repressive system under both leaders, which leads to the next point:
3) Never, ever forget that Pacepa rose to the pinnacle of power and says next to nothing about how he got there (why was *he* approved?) or his ethics in defending the regime from the highest levels. Don't buy his "foreign intelligence had nothing to do with the internal secret police" nonsense--there was a great deal of organizational separation, but you cannot divorce what DIE was doing from what the domestic police were doing--perpetuating a brutal one-party regime. It's rather silly to suggest, as one reviewer did, that Pacepa should've killed himself, but his own morals are in considerable doubt, Christian or otherwise; his was not a case of somebody joining the party just to keep a job. Read Dennis Deletant's _Ceausescu and the Securitate_ to get an idea of what kind of regime he was defending, as well as the introduction which points to some of Pacepa's factual lapses. To Pacepa's credit, he does admit to organizing brutal operations against dissident emigres as ordered, but you see the problem.
4) Throughout the '90s, Pacepa has been and still is very, very active in sending frequent, sensationalist letters and articles on the Ceausescu and post-Ceausescu period, most notably to the Bucharest daily _Ziua_ (whose director, Sorin Rosca Stanescu, is an admitted former collaborator with the former Securitate, that is, the internal communist-era secret police). Both men have enormous political axes to grind (mostly against Ion Iliescu and company). Sometimes they're on target, but Stanescu in particular has at times played fast and loose with principles and facts underpinning journalist ethics (e.g., the whole alleged Iliescu-KGB affair and its sub-scandals), such that it's hard to trust him or the information from his sources even if you want to. For his part, Pacepa has had a major bone to pick with parts of Romania's multiple intelligence agencies for most of the last decade--quite possibly for good reason, as many of them have a lot to answer for, but until he stops being incredibly oblique and conspiratorial, and comes clean about the specific targets, evidence, and motivations of his agenda, you are advised to retain some skepticism, as many informed Romanians do back in Romania proper.
All that said, you will get in this book an excellent expose of how Ceausescu was using the West and feeding the Soviets a steady stream of intelligence information, despite the rather "maverick" rhetoric that distanced him from the rest of the Warsaw Pact. (Realize also that this Western support was enabling Ceausescu to put the screws to the population.) It's also probably not far off when describing the paranoia and other bizarre behavior of the ruling couple (especially Elena) and their family. The difficulty is in determining exactly how accurate vs. selective it all is.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2001
I read a Slovenian edition of this book, and I think I'm going to order the English version to see what I missed by reading the translation.
I am inclined to believe most of what the author writes. I found the book astonishing, fascinating, downright enlightening; I can recommend it to anyone who has the guts to learn what the world and its history are actually like, as opposed to a fanciful portrayal of what they ought to be. We who have the privilege of living somewhat freely and luxuriously in our safe, comfortable dwellings can only appreciate an occasional injection of cold truth.
That said, there are two things Pacepa discreetly 'fails' to include in this book, and I cannot blame him for doing so:
- He never mentions any atrocities that may have been done by the US or the CIA. Obviously, as the book was written in the USA, he better not.
- When DIE does an atrocity, Pacepa never implicates himself - he just says that 'DIE' did it. When DIE does something good, such as prevent Golda Meir from getting killed, it is Pacepa who made sure it happened. :) I wouldn't mind Pacepa elaborating on his role in the atrocities, I would actually find it very laudable and titillating if he did so, but I guess there are too many aggressive hypocrites and perpetually offended people out there for him to be able to afford that.
There's some other minor stuff he inserts rather awkwardly - like his alleged Christianity and his love for the USA - but that's unverifiable and pretty much irrelevant, so let's leave it at that. Pacepa's personal issues are not what makes the book amazing, and they are kept to a minimum.
To summarize, I highly recommend this book to anyone who can stand the enormities - for entertainment as well as educational value.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 11, 1999
The author was a spy boss in Communist Romania. He saw the Ceausescus on a daily basis, and relates all their shocking--but true--dirt. From their dealings with drug lords to their rapist son's wild partying. Aside from its historical value, the book provide insight into the workings of foreign/Communist intelligence operations.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2001
After performing scenes from Churchill's play "Mad Forest," I wanted to learn more about Ceausescu and Romania and found "Red Horizons" was one of the few books in the market on the subject. After reading this book I better understood "Mad Forest" and am shocked that Ceausescu will probably never appear in a History textbook or mentioned after '89.
Even if you don't like Historical nonfiction, you will love this book and it will truly hold your attention. It is not just a book of facts but written by the man who led Ceausescu's Intelligence agency during his regime. One must wonder how he could go along with Ceausescu's regime and still live with it today but nonetheless it is worth reading. The feeling you get from "Red Horizons," when reading it is not so much an account of dates and facts but a feel of the day to do atrocities and the Ceausescus cowardice and filthy nature. It is almost like reading Macbeth and you shutter to think this actually happened.
This book should be read by anyone who has a yearning to learn about one of the worst regimes to exist after WW2.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2000
Espionage, Middle Eastern politics, terrorism, repression, VIP lifestyles, all in this book, and what is more amazing, all true. This was one of the best and most interesting books I have ever read -- and that is saying a lot. What you may read in the newspaper or see on TV is not what is going on behind closed doors. But Pacepa revealed what went on behind closed doors in Ceausescu's Romania -- too scary to be true, but unfortunately it was true. To this day Pacepa is a hunted man, despite Ceausescu's fall, because he knows way too much -- and he is not afraid to make it public. Despite the fact that he did commit many atrocities before his defection, to me this book cleansed him of all of his sins.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2004
Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief is a fascinating book. Pacepa has insights that you will fine nowhere else.

One very interesting piece is where Pacepa relates a conversation in 1978 with Constantin Munteaunu, a general assigned to teach Arafat and the PLO techniques to deceive the West into granting the organization recognition.

From this book, one finds out that Arafat was indeed a homosexual. He cause of death was likely AIDS.

Here is an excerpt:

"I just called the microphone monitoring center to ask about the 'Fedayee,'" Arafat's code name, explained Munteaunu. "After the meeting with the Comrade, he went directly to the guest house and had dinner. At this very moment, the 'Fedayee' is in his bedroom making love to his bodyguard. The one I knew was his latest lover. He's playing tiger again. The officer monitoring his microphones connected me live with the bedroom, and the squawling almost broke my eardrums. Arafat was roaring like a tiger, and his lover yelping like a hyena."

Munteaunu continued: "I've never before seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all together in one man." Munteaunu, wrote Pacepa, spent months pulling together secret reports from Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian intelligence agencies as well as Romanian files.

"I used to think I knew just about everything there was to know about Rahman al-Qudwa," Arafat's real name, "about the construction engineer who made a fortune in Kuwait, about the passionate collector of racing cars, about Abu Amman," Arafat's nom de guerre, "and about my friend Yasser, with all his hysterics," explained Munteaunu, handing Pacepa his final report on the PLO leader. "But I've got to admit that I didn't really know anything about him."

Pacepa wrote: "The report was indeed an incredible account of fanaticism, of devotion to his cause, of tangled oriental political maneuvers, of lies, of embezzled PLO funds deposited in Swiss banks, and of homosexual relationships, beginning with his teacher when he was a teen-ager and ending with his current bodyguards. After reading the report, I felt a compulsion to take a shower whenever I had been kissed by Arafat, or even just shaken his hand."

"If true, Arafat would have a great deal to conceal from his people and his murderously anti-homosexual supporters in the Islamic world," writes Frum, suggesting that Arafat was airlifted to France for medical treatment because he "could trust the French to protect his intimate secret.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2004
Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief is a fascinating book. Pacepa has insights that you will fine nowhere else.

One very interesting piece is where Pacepa relates a conversation in 1978 with Constantin Munteaunu, a general assigned to teach Arafat and the PLO techniques to deceive the West into granting the organization recognition.

From this book, one finds out that Arafat was indeed a homosexual. He cause of death was likely AIDS.

Here is an excerpt:

"I just called the microphone monitoring center to ask about the 'Fedayee,'" Arafat's code name, explained Munteaunu. "After the meeting with the Comrade, he went directly to the guest house and had dinner. At this very moment, the 'Fedayee' is in his bedroom making love to his bodyguard. The one I knew was his latest lover. He's playing tiger again. The officer monitoring his microphones connected me live with the bedroom, and the squawling almost broke my eardrums. Arafat was roaring like a tiger, and his lover yelping like a hyena."

Munteaunu continued: "I've never before seen so much cleverness, blood and filth all together in one man." Munteaunu, wrote Pacepa, spent months pulling together secret reports from Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian intelligence agencies as well as Romanian files.

"I used to think I knew just about everything there was to know about Rahman al-Qudwa," Arafat's real name, "about the construction engineer who made a fortune in Kuwait, about the passionate collector of racing cars, about Abu Amman," Arafat's nom de guerre, "and about my friend Yasser, with all his hysterics," explained Munteaunu, handing Pacepa his final report on the PLO leader. "But I've got to admit that I didn't really know anything about him."

Pacepa wrote: "The report was indeed an incredible account of fanaticism, of devotion to his cause, of tangled oriental political maneuvers, of lies, of embezzled PLO funds deposited in Swiss banks, and of homosexual relationships, beginning with his teacher when he was a teen-ager and ending with his current bodyguards. After reading the report, I felt a compulsion to take a shower whenever I had been kissed by Arafat, or even just shaken his hand."

"If true, Arafat would have a great deal to conceal from his people and his murderously anti-homosexual supporters in the Islamic world," writes Frum, suggesting that Arafat was airlifted to France for medical treatment because he "could trust the French to protect his intimate secret.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2005
Anyone who spent even a few months in Romania when Ceausescu ran it knows that it was very poorly governed. Some symptoms of this were the long lines, the empty shelves in the food stores, the lack of so many consumer goods, the dollar shops, the Securitate, the eagerness of so many citizens to emigrate (and the difficulty of getting visas), the lack of Western newspapers and magazines and the weakness of currency by Western standards. There were also the searches for contraband items at the borders, such as calculators, Bibles, or coffee. Bribery appeared to be part of the culture. Yes, a few people in the government were relatively well off, but very few others were.

In my opinion, one reason for the situation was the quality of those who ran the nation. Some Romanian communists, including Ceausescu, were Communists even when Romania was allied with Germany in World War Two. Back then, Communists were not exactly public servants: generally, they were misfits. When the Communists were victorious, these misfits wound up running the country, and they did a poor job of it.

In this book, written before Ceausescu was overthrown, Pacepa gives us some evidence (albeit, much of it anecdotal) that the Ceausescu regime was repressive and irresponsible in many respects.

We see Ceausescu giving very detailed advice and support to Arafat, a terrorist leader. We see some of the greed the Ceausescus were notorious for, as they stashed away huge amounts of money and goods. And we see that the Ceausescu government was a special threat to minorities such as Hungarians, Jews, and Germans.

This book was written well over 15 years ago, but I think it needs to be looked at even today, perhaps to remind us how counterproductive governments can be.
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