Customer Review

94 of 99 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't make this the first book you read on the topic..., June 28, 2000
This review is from: The Sword And The Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive And The Secret History Of The KGB (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. If you are willing to make the effort and devote the time, your knowledge of this particular man's cache of information will greatly expand your knowledge of what some of the KGB's activities were. With the passing of time a more complete picture will emerge of this opponent of The Cold War. It certainly is not the final word on the matter, but an excellent piece of the story.
Well worth reading if given the time.
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