The Sword and the Shield and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $27.50
  • Save: $10.23 (37%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
The Sword and the Shield:... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Wear and Creasing to the cover and edges. Overall in good reading condition. Eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping. Quick Amazon Shipping plus Hassle Free Returns. Your 100% Satisfaction is Guaranteed!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB Paperback – September 5, 1999

102 customer reviews

See all 16 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$7.20 $0.77

Frequently Bought Together

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB + The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the the Third World - Newly Revealed Secrets from the Mitrokhin Archive + Spymaster: My Thirty-two Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West
Price for all three: $49.92

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews Review

In early 1992, a Russian man walked into the British embassy in a newly independent Baltic republic and asked to "speak to someone in authority." As he sipped his first cup of proper English tea, he handed over a small file of notes. Eight months later, the man, his family, and his enormous archive had been safely exfiltrated to Britain. When news that a KGB officer had defected with the names of hundreds of undercover agents leaked out in 1996, a spokesperson for the SVR (Russia's foreign intelligence service, heir of the KGB) said, "Hundreds of people! That just doesn't happen! Any defector could get the name of one, two, perhaps three agents--but not hundreds!"

Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin worked as chief archivist for the FCD, the foreign-intelligence arm of the KGB. Mitrokhin was responsible for checking and sealing approximately 300,000 files, allowing him unrestricted access to one of the world's most closely guarded archives. He had lost faith in the Soviet system over the years, and was especially disturbed by the KGB's systematic silencing of dissidents at home and abroad. Faced with tough choices--stay silent, resign, or undermine the system from within--Mitrokhin decided to compile a record of the foreign operations of the KGB. Every day for 12 years, he smuggled notes out of the archive. He started by hiding scraps of paper covered with miniscule handwriting in his shoes, but later wrote notes on ordinary office paper, which he took home in his pockets. He hid the notes under his mattress, and on weekends took them to his dacha, where he typed them and hid them in containers buried under the floor. When he escaped to Britain, his archive contained tens of thousands of pages of notes.

In 1995, Mitrokhin, by then a British citizen, contacted Christopher Andrew (For the President's Eyes Only), head of the faculty of history at Cambridge University and one of the world's foremost historians of international intelligence. Andrew was allowed to examine the archive Mitrokhin created "to ensure that the truth was not forgotten, that posterity might some day come to know of it." The Sword and the Shield is the earthshaking result. The book details the KGB's foreign-intelligence operations, most notably those aimed at Great Britain and the "Main Adversary"--the United States. In the 700-page book, Andrew reveals operations aimed at discrediting high-profile Americans, from Martin Luther King to Ronald Reagan; secret arms caches still hidden--and boobytrapped--throughout the West; disinformation efforts, including forging a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald in an attempt to implicate the CIA in the assassination of JFK; attempts to stir up racial tensions in the U.S. by sending hate mail and even bombs; and the existence of deep-cover agents in North America and Europe--some of whom were effectively "outed" when the book was published.

Mitrokhin's detailed notes are well served by Andrew, who writes forcefully and clearly. The Sword and the Shield represents a remarkable intelligence coup--one that will have serious repercussions for years to come. As Andrew notes, "No one who spied for the Soviet Union at any period between the October Revolution and the eve of the Gorbachev era can now be confident that his or her secrets are still secure." --Sunny Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Anybody who was a Soviet agent from '85 or earlier can never sleep comforable again." -- David Major, fomer FBI Counterintelligence Agent, ABC News

"It's now obvious that all these accusations thrown at the KGB over the period of time have now found confirmation in real archive documents, and this is important. They are not rumors. They are not gossip, not feeble recollections of the past. They are based on classified top secrets of the KGB." -- Oleg Kalugin, former KGB General, ABC News

"Stranger than fiction...Aficionados of espionage will be rummaging through this enormously detailed book for years." -- The New Republic

"The Mitrohkin files, which the British considered reliable enough to share with the C.I.A. and F.B.I. have offered Western intelligence and law enforcement officials a treasure trove of historical information about K.G.B. operations around the world." -- The New York Times

"The book is astounding...Every page brims with the plots for a dozen movies and Robert Ludlum thrillers. Thanks to what they have done, no history of the last half of the Cold War can be written the same again." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The material contains incredible detail on some major spy cases." -- Paul Redmond, former CIA Counter-intelligence Chief, ABC News

"[D]eliciously erudite." -- William Safire, New York Times Sunday Magazine

"[Mitrokhin] is really making a massive contribution to our understanding of Soviet activities going back a very long time, not only about espionage and intelligence collection, but also covert action." -- John Martin, former Justice Department prosecutor, ABC News

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (September 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465003125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465003129
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Andrew is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History and Chair of the Faculty of History at Cambridge University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 100 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on June 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a large body of work containing an enormous amount of information. The reason for the 4 stars is that I just don't feel that all the information from the KGB files can be taken without any skepticism at all. This is not really harsh criticism just an acknowledgement that with the flood of documents coming from the former Soviet Union and it's Republics, some prudent skepticism is called for. It also is not a comment on Mr. Mitrokhin, truth versus deception, disinformation, and lies, was part of the daily life in the Soviet Union. It is possible all his information is uncorrupted, but a bit of a jaundiced view is reasonably called for.
The book is interesting and loaded with information. I don't suggest this as a first book about the KGB because it reads more like a textbook; it is very meticulous to the point tedious in detail at times. If the subject is one you have some familiarity with, this volume could serve as an excellent reference work. If this were the first book you were to read on the topic, reaching the end would be challenging.
Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin oversaw 300,000 files on an exhaustive list of prominent names in American History. If there was a person who had access to a library of information, Mr. Mitrokhin certainly qualifies. His willingness to remove information on a daily basis for years on end is both a testament to his courage, and an amazing period of luck.
The work is excellent in depth and breadth of material covered. It is not light reading as the subjects that are covered, or sometimes mentioned briefly, have been the topic of entire books.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on June 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
From this book we learn of one of the most incredible stories to yet emerge from the history of the Cold War; the tale of this Russian defector who had laboriously hand-scribed an astonishing archive detailing the history of hundreds of thousands of secret KGB files. One is breathlessly swept along by two elements in this true story; first, by the tale of the defector himself, who calmly, deliberately and systematically copied the records of so many cases of surveillance, mistreatment, harassment, torture, and murder by KGB agents over the decades at great personal risk to himself and his family, and second, by the tales of horror these files contain.
The defector himself worked for decades as the chief archivist for the foreign intelligence division of the KGB. Part of his duties was to extensively check and then seal each of the hundreds of thousands of cases on file, which gave him unhindered access to all of the secrets of the decades of KGB activity. Of course, one has to ask oneself the most important question; why? Apparently the defector had long ago become badly disillusioned by the nature of the Soviet government and its ritualistic suppression of human rights, especially by its record of systematic silencing of both domestic and international dissidents. Faced with a series of decisions about what to do, he eventually drifted into copying the records as a quiet act of protest, soon the records, smuggled out in his clothing, pockets, inside his socks,shoes, or his underwear, soon grew to fantastic proportions.
The tales of KGB abuse and excess are horrifying to read about, staggering the imagination both in terms of the extent they reached, and also in terms of the absolute lunacy of much of it.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While not everything in the book is news, the fact that virtually ALL the names (minor and major), dates and actions since 1917 are present makes this book a very valuable treasure indeed. Yes, folks, it's all true - the Rosenbergs were in fact guilty of espionage, Alger Hiss was in fact a Communist agent, the vicious innuendos that have been launched against J. Edgar Hoover since his death did in fact have their origin in Moscow - and the Soviet archives made public since 1991 back it all up. Andrew does sometimes go into tedious detail, but this may be necessary for those without a rudimentary understanding of the history of Soviet espionage. (The section on the Cambridge Five is especially illuminating - I would also recommend "Degenerate Moderns" by E. Michael Jones to anyone who wishes to further study that subject.)
I especially agreed with Andrew's conclusion in that the collapse of the Soviet empire has revealed the traditional faultline between East and West that has existed since the division of the Roman Empire in the fourth century A.D., which culminated in 1054 with the Eastern Schism that shattered the unity of the Christian Church. The cultural and political differences between East and West have been almost 1700 years in the making and sadly will not disappear overnight.
My only complaint about the book is the surprisingly large number of typographical errors, particlularly in regard to foreign names; however, this is of minor importance and does not diminish the book's effectiveness. Hopefully that minor problem will be corrected in subsequent printings.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
This item: The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
Price: $17.27
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: greatest russian novels, j. edgar hoover the man and the secrets, spy versus spy, anatoli rybakov, anatoly dobrynin, wolfs claim