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Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History Hardcover – May, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Former Time editor Jerrold Schechter and historian Leona Schechter mine the Soviet archives and U.S. documents declassified in the 1990s, most notably the famed Venona intercepts meant to decrypt Soviet messages, in an effort to shed light on some Cold War mysteries and assess the impact of Soviet espionage on U.S. foreign policy. The usual suspects the Rosenbergs, Harry Dexter White, Alger Hiss, and Whittaker Chambers all put in appearances. The book is a touch oversold, however. While it adds some details to the historical literature, little new ground is actually broken. The Schechters do a good job, for instance, in clearing up the riddle of who started the Korean War. (Kim Il Sung did; Stalin agreed, fearing that a resurgent Japan would resume its bid for dominance on the Korean peninsula and thus menace the Communist bloc.) Such insights make the book worthwhile. Yet overall, it is less a path-breaking work than an incremental addition to the Cold War literature pioneered by Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes's Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America. Recommended for all academic collections. James R. Holmes, Ph.D. candidate, Fletcher Sch. of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts Univ., Medford, MA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A fascinating book." --Robert D. Novak, THE WEEKLY STANDARD
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; 1st edition (May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574883275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574883275
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Historians are still writing about megalomaniacs who attempted to conquer the world by force and subversion in order to impose their ideology on society. HITLER and STALIN come quickly to mind. And while both employed intelligence operations to further their objectives, only the Soviet Union systematically integrated espionage, deception, and terror to advance its worldwide foreign policy and maintain domestic security. Many books have been written describing the operations, the personnel, and the organizations-KGB and GRU-involved. Jerrold and Leona SCHECTER have written one, Special Tasks, the story of KGB officer Pavel SUDOPLATOV. And Jerrold SCHECTER co-authored another with former KGB officer Peter DERIABIN, The Spy Who Saved The World, the story of GRU Colonel Oleg PENKOVSKY. But not until Sacred Secrets has the emphasis shifted to the impact of intelligence operations on the history of two societies-the United States and the Soviet Union.
We learn that a KGB agent of influence in the American government shaped American the policy that led to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. And, despite pledges to the contrary, the Soviet Union spied on its American ally throughout WWII using agents recruited from the American Communist Party. Robert OPENHEIMER was one such source as the letter to NKGB Chairman BERIA reproduced in the book, makes clear. Furthermore, as was their way, after the war the Soviets were largely successful in blaming America for not giving them the war time secrets desired outright, so spies wouldn't be necessary-it was America's fault. At first, many Americans either supported this view or denied that any serious espionage had even occurred. The FBI knew them to be wrong-disillusioned defectors had made that clear.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you think the "good old days" were when the greatest generation was in charge, and that there really is a Santa Claus, you probably should not read this book. But, if you want the blunt history about how Stalin infiltrated our government and society in the 30's and 40's to manipulate American government decisions concerning the Great WWII then you need to know about the Venona Secrets, and this author has done a great job piecing the history and recently declassified intelligence together to show just how crafty Stalin was and how susceptible America was to infiltration by Soviet agents at the highest levels.
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Format: Hardcover
Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History by historians Jerrold and Leona Schecter is an informed and informative examination of the hidden agendas and secrets of the Cold War, and an impressive study of the pervasive influence that Soviet intelligence operations exacted upon American politics, economics, and more, ranging from Pearl Harbor through Star Wars. An intriguing, compelling, articulate analysis, Sacred Secrets is highly recommended reading for students of Soviet and U.S. Cold War political history, international studies, cryptography, and intelligence operations.
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