Some historians and journalists are starting to regard the cold-war-era American Communist Party as nothing more than a quaint club of polite if misguided ideologues. In The Venona Secrets, Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel intend to create a new impression of treacherous Americans "who willfully gave their primary allegiance to a foreign power, the USSR.... For Communists, true patriotism meant helping to make the world a better place by advancing the interests of the Soviet Union in any way possible." By using the now-celebrated Venona documents--top-secret Soviet cables sent between Moscow and Washington, D.C., in the 1940s--Romerstein and Breindel tell a frightening story of how deeply spies penetrated the U.S. government. There was the famous case of Alger Hiss, whose guilt as a Soviet spy is now beyond doubt thanks to Venona. Less well known, but still important, were the roles of Harry Hopkins in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's White House and Harry Dexter White in the Treasury Department.
Romerstein, a veteran cold warrior, and Breindel, the former editorial-page editor of The New York Post (he died before the book's publication, at the age of 42), are not the first to discuss the Venona papers in depth--readers of The Haunted Wood, by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, and Whittaker Chambers, by Sam Tanenhaus, will know much of the story. Yet this may its most aggressive telling. Romerstein and Breindel include necessary chapters on the Hiss-Chambers dispute, the Elizabeth Bentley spy ring, and the charges against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They are particularly forceful in arguing that journalist I.F. Stone and atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer were Soviet spies. Another target--and a provocative one--is Albert Einstein, whom they describe as "tainted" by his indirect ties to Soviet intelligence. The Venona Secrets will make heads turn, and it will show that the debates over the cold war and its meaning can be as hot now as they were then. --John J. Miller
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"The Venona Secrets . . . is the most authoritative account yet of the hidden mysteries unveiled by the decoding of thousands of secret diplomatic messages between the Soviet Union and its operatives here. . . . It offers the unmatched expertise of Herb Romerstein, a walking encyclopedia of the history of Communism and counterintelligence."
Eric Fettmann, New York Post
"The Venona Secrets contains much. . . that will shock those too young to remember these ancient battles. And for those of us who do remember, it is comforting evidence that the truth, however belatedly, has a way of coming out."
William Rusher, syndicated columnist
"The Venona Secrets is a breathtaking exposé."
Robert Novak, The Weekly Standard
"Masterful research and interpretation of once-secret federal documents by authors Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel..."
Bill Hoffmann, New York Post
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback
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