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Editorial Reviews


"Thoroughly researched, Seduced by Secrets gives us an important, unmatched, insider account of East German intelligence. Kristie Macrakis writes with a scholar's eye and novelist's skills, revealing secrets and spy tradecraft never meant for public disclosure."
Pete Earley, best-selling author of Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War

"This book on the vaunted GDR secret service provides a fascinating inside view of the Stasi's spying efforts as well as technologies. Written in an accessible style, it is nonetheless based on exhaustive research in the Stasi files and many oral interviews. The first part paints vivid pictures of some of the major spy cases of the Cold War. The second part, which will gladden the heart of any espionage aficionado, discusses spy technology from invisible ink to smell samples. The result is a remarkable and readable synthesis of the East German spying operations."
Konrad Jarausch, Lurcy Professor of European Civilization, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Easily the most detailed, painstaking research yet undertaken on the Stasi's techniques and secrets. Certainly the most absorbing analysis of an organization hitherto steeped in mystery."
Nigel West, Director of Counterintelligence Studies, The Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Washington DC

"Seduced by Secrets makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of how the Stasi did what it did..." -Daniel Johnson, Commentary

"Drawing upon declassified documents seized from STASI files (it is now defunct) and interviews with former officers, Ms. Macrakis has produced a first-rate read...[This book] deserve[s] a five cloak-and-dagger rating. Good reading for the specialist and the layman alike." - Joseph C. Goulden, The Washington Times

"...fine scholarship and a valuable and unique contribution to intelligence literature. " -Hayden B. Peake, Studies in Intelligence

"Rarely does an intelligence book come along that offers unique insights on spy gadgetry beyond what has already been written, and the importance of Western technology...[for] the outcome of the Cold War...But then Kristie Macrakis is not your usual writer/author. Her Harvard doctorate in the history of science and technology, along with...teaching intelligence, and a life-long interest in the spy technology of the Cold War, has yielded a book that needed to be writtenŠThe book is assuredly a must for those spy literature aficionados interested in real, as opposed to fictional, spy stories." -Gene Poteat, The Intelligencer

"Seduced by Secrets is, and will likely remain, the best book on the former East German Ministerium fu¨r Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security or MfS) and its foreign intelligence service , the Hauptverwaltung Aufkla¨rung (Main Directorate Intelligence or HV A)." -Benjamin Fischer, Journal: International Journal for Intelligence and Counterintelligence.

"...the depth of the author's research and her superior understanding of the German psyche are definite enablers for an astute reader." -John R. Arpin, Naval War College Review

"Macrakis provides a fascinating view inside the spy technology of the Stasi...sources have allowed her to paint a rich picture of the Stasi's quest for Western technology and its struggles to make use of acquired information.../Seduced by Secrets/ offers a revealing look at the difficult-to-observe history of a modern intelligence agency. It provides scholars with an insightful analysis and a new perspective for thinking about the relationship of technology and the Cold War..." -John Laprise,Technology and Culture

"...a powerful volume. It objectively details some of the MfS's most closely guarded secrets...Macrakis does not single out the Stasi and its East Bloc counterparts for condemnation. Instead, she clearly shows that many of these agencies' actions and techniques were "strikingly similar" to methods used by Western intelligence...In an era when Congress has often taken a back seat to an increasingly secretive executive branch, Macrakis' historical account offiers a potent reminder of the need for democratic oversight of intelligence agencies." -German Studies Review

"A brilliantly written report that is based on the evaluation of new files from the Birthler-Office [for the Stasi files] and the Rosenholz data. It is written with a detective's nose and the precision of passion." -Urs Rauber /Neue Züricher Zeitung /am Sonntag (NZZ am Sonntag)

"Macrakis has written a terrific book that will make fascinating reading for general audiences as well as experts.... the author should be lauded for her willingness to move beyond the well-trodden path of Stasi research, especially to consider the material culture and scientific aspects of GDR spying, and the elegance with which she does it.../Seduced by Secrets/ provides fascinating insights into the role of technology at the East German Ministry of State Security (MfS)...highly recommended for anyone interested in espionage." -H-Net Review, Katrin Paehler

"...a revealing look at the difficult-to-observe history of modern intelligence agency." -John Laprise, Techonology and Culture

"Undergraduate students will delight in the writing style and the sensational revelations." -Gary Bruce, Journal of Cold War Studies

Book Description

Seduced by Secrets reveals the secret technical sources and methods of the Stasi (East German Ministy for State Security). Based on prodigious research in the Stasi archives, Seduced by Secrets enters the Stasi's secret world of technology through biographies of agents, defectors, and officers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (March 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052188747X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521887472
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Seduced by Secrets" is a study of East Germany's Ministry for State Security (MfS), or the "Stasi", from the point of view of a science and technology historian. The fall of East Germany created a unique opportunity to understand and analyze a modern intelligence agency, once powerful and now defunct, as four decades of the MfS' confidential records were thrown open for all to see. Author Kristie Macrackis sifted through thousands of those files and interviewed former East German agents to piece together a technological history of the MfS' domestic and foreign intelligence operations. Aimed at interested laymen, historians, and intelligence professionals, "Seduced by Secrets" peers behind the Iron Curtain to illuminate the challenges and accomplishments of modern high-tech espionage.

The book is divided into two parts and addresses the role of technology in Cold War espionage in two different senses. The first part, called "High-Tech", discusses East Germany's efforts to acquire technology and technological information from the West, which was its primary goal, in order to save domestic companies research and development costs and to create an indigenous microelectronics industry. Macrakis includes a history of the Sector for Science and Technology (SWT), which was charged with the task of stealing Western technologies. As industrial intelligence was primarily gathered by humans, this part of the book is about the people -the SWT elite, the agents, double agents, defectors, their operations and their goals.

While the first part of the book consists mainly of stories -histories, operations, agents- the second part, called "Spy-Tech", is more dense and technical.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Steven K. Szmutko VINE VOICE on August 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Eastern German Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, was a premier intelligence agency, perfecting both political, social and economic espionage during the Cold War era. Engaging in covert operations throughout Western Europe, the United States, and elsewhere, Stasi was able to infiltrate both government entities and corporate organizations in order to further the country's technological, military and industrial prowess.

Kristie Macrakis, Professor of the History of Science at Michigan State University, has written a masterful, impeccably and meticulously researched book, which explores in engaging scope and detail, the machinations of this both feared and respected organizations. Drawing on Stasi's archives, interviews with former officials, and a wealth of material from other groups including the CIA, her picture of Stasi is a comprehensive exploration that reads like a novel in the finest traditions of the espionage genre. Although the primary focus is on the technology developed, borrowed, or stolen by the agency, the book artfully captures the human element ranging from personal motivation, organizational politics and maneuvering, and insular culture that represented the paranoia of the time.

Carefully crafted, Professor Macrakis' work displays a clean crisp writing style, eschewing unnecessary jargon, to unmask the face of a faceless organization. Not content with merely secondary or documentary sources, she has interviewed numerous participants in this dance of seducton, providing the reader with in-depth knowledge and experience. Here we see flawed human characters, carefully and deliberately exposed, to paint a detailed portrait of this relic.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Once the two distinct German states were created shortly after the end of World War II, the communist East German nation developed a security service designed to simultaneously spy on the western nations, particularly West Germany and keep their citizens in line. This security agency was formally known as Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security) but was commonly abbreviated as Stasi and known by the acronym MfS.
The MfS wove a vast network of internal informants and sent a large number of sleeper agents posing as refugees into West Germany. The common language and culture of the people of the two German nations in combination with their vastly different ideologies meant that there was a constant struggle between the security services of both nations. This was also one segment of the greater struggle between the spy agencies of their two sponsoring superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union.
This book is a (very) detailed description of the tactics of the Stasi. Some of it is amusing, for example the clothes containing the smells of suspects kept in sealed glass jars. Other aspects are disturbing, such as the alleged use of dangerous and radioactive substances to track suspects. Overall, it is a fascinating look into the methods and tactics of the near forty year existence of what was a very effective spy agency. Given their weakness in technology, the MfS concentrated on human weaknesses to cultivate their human intelligence sources.
It turns out that the spy game is much like most of the other aspects of life. To get people to do what you want, often against their wishes, you exploit their weaknesses for money, sex, power or appeal to their ego. Communism failed as a political and economic system, yet they were very efficient in some areas.
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