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Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley Paperback – September 5, 2005
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forgotten, in which Americans could become committed Communists and risk everything for the sake of ideology."—Francis Fukuyama (Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Author of "State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century, and "The End of History and the Last Man")
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"In April 1941, ... the KGB had 221 agents in the United States ... " from Mitrokhin, "The Sword and the Shield" [ 107, 128]
[does not include the GRU]
Note 50: 29 of the 2900 Venona decrypted messages record that Soviet agents were aware that FBI agents were monitoring their activities ...
Engineering Communism is not only interesting because of the description of the founding of the USSR's "Silicon Valley", but also because it describes in great detail of the chase as the FBI gradually becomes aware of the extent to which Russian spying is taking place in the United States.
"Engineering Communism" is essential because it ties in with Diana West's book "Betrayal ... " . There are reviewers who deny that there were ANY Soviet agents or moles, but the evidence is only overwhelming. The only issue is what the numbers were.
We only decrypted a very tiny piece of 1% of the Soviet cables. [Remember that this was before the internet, before computers, before long distance telephone. There were only postal mail and telegrams. And it was very difficult for the FBI and police to coordinate their surveillance of enemy activity.]
Also, this book is about how the Soviet MILITARY electronics industry was developed ... the proximity fuse, radar, etc.
This book also shows the weaknesses of the socialist system, in which ideological purity was more important that actual results.
This book is a must read! Interesting AND ties in with other studies of the time period and of the Soviet system.
Barr and Sarant managed to defect to the USSR with massive technical know-how and they single-handedly established a Soviet semiconductor and defense establishment. They enabled the massively-outspent Soviets keep up with the west. They created electronics for advanced marine and avionics systems used in combat against the land of their birth. But they misjudged the nature of life in the USSR, where they were abused by anti-Semites, thwarted in their technical efforts by faceless bureaucrats, and even suspected of being western spies. Although Sarant would die in Russia, Barr would live long enough to see the Berlin Wall come down, and actually returned to the US, where his children eventually settled. The author came to know him well, and captures well the almost other-worldly contradictions and dilemmas that Barr lived with, but some how managed to process.
This is not just some true-crime book, but a researched and documented history that still manages to be a fascinating story.
The author had the advantage of becoming a confidant of one of these men late in their lives and has a gift for retelling the story. A very enjoyable read.