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Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA Hardcover – April, 1989

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Epstein ( Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald ) delves deep into the wheels-within-wheels of superpower intelligence and counterintelligence, showing ways in which the CIA and the KGB have been "provoked, seduced, lured into false trails, blinded, and turned into unwitting agents." Readers will find new information here on a multitude of subjects: programs involving CIA-written books published under defectors' names; the story of Yuri Nosenko, a KGB officer who defected in 1963 and was "at the heart of everything that happened at the CIA for a decade"; and the theories of James Angleton, the former CIA chief of counterintelligence, on the hidden motives of KGB super-mole Kim Philby. The book concludes with an ominously plausible argument that Gorbachev's glasnost is merely the sixth phase in a grand strategy of Soviet deception conceived soon after the Bolshevik Revolution. Highly recommended.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Edward Jay Epstein is the author of fifteen books. He studied government at Cornell and Harvard and received a Ph.D from Harvard in 1973. His thesis on the search for political truth became a best-selling book, Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth. His doctoral dissertation on television news was published as News From Nowhere. He is the recipient of numerous foundation grants and awards, including the prestigious Financial Times/Booz Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award for both best biography and best business book for Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer. He has written for Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in New York City. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Printing edition (April 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671415433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671415433
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Epstein's books are always fascinating and enlightening. He has done this repeatedly with his tomes, Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald (1978) and Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer (1996). He repeats his superb performance with Deception: The Invisible War Between the CIA and the KGB (1989).

Before we start a critical review of this book, we must remember this book was written and published in 1989, before the collapse of the Soviet Union and before the fabulous revelations of that great Russian, Vasili Mitrokin, the KGB defector who brought with him the family jewels of the KGB, foreign intelligence secrets. With his cooperation with British historian, Christopher Andrew, treasure troves of materials have been studied and many puzzles from the cold war have been solved.

Nevertheless, it is fascinating to read Deception, a cliffhanger that reads lika a novel. As with his book on Lee Harvey Oswald, Epstein's research and ramifications would have led one to enter the wilderness of mirrors of traitors and double agents and remain trapped in its labyrinthine jungle.

The truth is that the KGB's Chief Directorate, despite its tremendous power and resources that dwarfed those of our CIA, was almost omnipotent but not omniscient. The police state agency was overburdened with its own corruption, failures, not to mention the immorality of the Soviet communist leadership from the top. It could not carry on the grand design of deception that KGB chief, Alexander Shelepin (1958-1961), envisioned and that the Soviet premier defector, Anatoli Golitsyn, believed was firmly in placed as Soviet policy in the 1960s-1980s.
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By A Customer on January 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Too bad its out of print! It is difficult to overstate the importance of this book in intelligence scholarship. It is perhaps the only book that gives, essentially from the horse's mouth, James Jesus Angleton's approach to analytical counterintelligence. This approach was driven from CIA when Angleton was fired in 1974 as part of the Church Committee witch hunt. Angleton's seemingly simple insight -- that our enemies, as thinking, breathing human beings, may actually go out of their way to feed us false intelligence, so that we will believe things that aren't true -- has been totally lost to CIA for almost 30 years. Instead, it has been replaced with a naive faith that CIA is simply to smart and professional to be fooled. You simply can't understand intelligence matters without grasping the role of deception.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A book which truly explains the nature of Russia as corrupted by Communism, and the misdirection used by the Russians in their dealings with the West. They have outplayed us every step of the way, and continue to ensure that the West is checkmated and headed in the wrong direction, virtually always.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to anyone interested in the James Jesus Angleton controversy, as well as the idea of deception writ large. However, though I HATE "gotcha" observations, I must point out that in Chapter Ten, "The New Maginot Line" (I read the 1989 hardback version, which may have been improved and updated for the paperback version), Mr. Epstein mentions attending an intelligence conference at the Air Force Academy in BOULDER, CO in June 1984: NEWSFLASH--the US Air Force Academy is NOT in Boulder, CO; it is about 15 miles north of downtown Colorado Springs on I-25. Now, for a book on intelligence and deception, this is disturbing, to say the very least. Otherwise, an excellent and fascinating book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although war is an avoidable endeavor and it truly should be deception is an unavoidable one, a constant, and being prepared for a deception can almost cause as much damage as the deception itself. Still a constant. Growing up in Detroit the threat of being a victim of violence was a constant and for me I learned to know who was around and/or coming my way and I truly did avoid major harm but the cost to me was alienating almost everyone I met with my constant suspicion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clear and thorough treatise on the most skilled nation of deceivers in modern history, the Russians. From the Okhrana to the KGB, Epstein traces the history of the Kremlin's mendacity. Important in understanding the Russians even today...remember, Putin is KGB.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have met the author, and I knew James Angleton. Epstein is one of the very few writers that understand both counterintelligence and Angleton's approach to this difficult and vexing art. His book is outstanding.
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Format: Kindle Edition
"Deception" is a fascinating look into espionage and counterintelligence during the Cold War. Epstein writes in an engaging style and does a good job of explaining esoteric terms and relating a coherent narrative, while sticking to the sources he has on subjects where the truth is inherently difficult to ascertain. The book also has philosophical and psychological bent; it makes one realize how much of spycraft relies on simple personal relationships and the manipulation of them—trust turning to blind faith, confidence becoming blackmail, little whites lies becoming treason. By this paradigm , the deceived is an active participant in their own deception.

The story is a fascinating one that I was only dimly aware of. The book is very much seen through the eyes of Epstein's key source, CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, who fervently believed that the KGB had deceived, misled, and outfoxed the CIA in throughout the 1960s and up to the present day (in this case, the mid-1980s). All the evidence presented and a bit of common sense leads one to believe that he was right, though hubris led the CIA to believe it could not be deceived. There are several vignettes of Soviet defectors and moles that make compelling reading and support the thesis.

Some of the chapters in the second half of the book expose how hollow the intelligence community's claims that new technology like spy satellites and radio interception made it impossible for them to be tricked by the Soviets—sobering thoughts given the more recent revelations about how the US conducts its electronic surveillance today.
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