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Man Without A Face Paperback – July 1, 1999
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is a fascinating, insider's view of the HVA. The Stasi's main target was West Germany, and the frighteningly efficient HVA managed to place agents in many key positions in or near the seats of power of West Germany and NATO. We learn how the author used "Romeo" traps, taking advantage of the post-war gender imbalance in Germany to send male spies to woo lonely West German secretaries in key positions. It was extremely disconcerting for me, as an American, to learn that every single one of the CIA's agents who attempted to infiltrate East Germany was either an East German plant or a double agent.
Having said that, it is also important to say that Markus Wolf is and remains an unreconstructed Communist. He is the German version of a "red diaper baby"; his parents were Communists and his faith in communism was forged when his partially-Jewish family was given refuge by Stalin from the Nazi holocaust. He is a still true believer -- convinced that communism failed only because of the way it was implemented, not due to any flaws in the ideology itself. This view permeates the book.
Wolf also failed personally to speak up about the regime's behavior.Read more ›
In brief summary, Markus Wolf was the half Jewish son of German Communist parents who fled to Moscow when the Nazis came to power. Markus grew up as a good Soviet citizen and Communist. He spent WWII writing and broadcasting Soviet propaganda aimed at the German army. After the war, he transferred his citizenship from the Soviet Union to the new German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and rapidly advanced to become director of the Foreign Intelligence Service in 1953, at least in part because he was both fluent in Russian and trusted by the Soviet hierarchy. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1986, three years before the Wall came down. The title of his memoir, Man Without A Face, is based on the fact that the US Intelligence Community did not have a photo or description of Wolf's appearance until well into the 1970s. This added to his legend as the other side's greatest spymaster of the Cold War.Read more ›
As the scion of a "good Communist family," Wolf never truly appreciated how distant he was from the average East German he claimed to represent. Like insider elites everywhere, he took the platitudes of his regime at face value and squelched pangs of conscience that hinted otherwise. He could not grasp the GDR's lingering resentment by many as a state "founded on rape", based on the behavior of Germany's Soviet conquerors; thus the illigitimacy of its political offspring in the eyes of its citizens. The GDR's inability to find common ground created The Wall, and brought it down around him.
Wolf's description of the GDR surveillance state is a warning to the cliche-ridden, platitude-pontificating pundits of the West as well. The age of the NSA and its sovereign power to mock constitutional rights had precedence in East Berlin. Thus the cold war victory grows increasingly pyrrhic, as was the defeat of fascism in 1945. That Markus Wolf preserved his human decency after lifetime service to totalitarian state security is a rebuke to those who fancy themselves on the ever-elusive right side of history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An important addition to my collection of first person acounts of WW2 and the cold war.Published on July 9, 2014 by Joe S.
Unrepentant, yet full of regret, the memoirs of Markus Wolf are enjoyable to read as a look into the personalities of those he came in contact with during the Cold War. Read morePublished on March 15, 2014 by John E Landrum
Markus Wolf was in charge of the East German Foreign espionage unit for most of that country's existence. Here, he gives his side of the story. Read morePublished on September 25, 2013 by Jim M.
THE BOOK IS WELL WRITTEN BUT YOU WOULD EXPECT MORE RELEVANT INFORMATION TO BE DISCLOSED,
OTHERWISE WHY SHOULD WE BE INTERESTED IN READING THE MEMORIES OF CHIEF SPY OF... Read more
If you are a fan of non-fiction espionage stories and the incredible people who were and are involved in this difficult and nail biting line of work, then this is a great read. Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Januari M Works
Good book. well written. The middle of the book was a little dragging but, towards the end it was very interesting reading. Read morePublished on July 11, 2012 by gary