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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Special Tasks Paperback – June 1, 1995

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sudoplatov, a former intelligence official during the Stalin era, presents an updated version of his controversial memoir.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This secret policeman's memoir contains explosive material. The atomic bomb secrets were betrayed not by the Rosenbergs but by none other than Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. The motivations of octogenarian Sudoplatov, who managed the Soviet nuclear intelligence effort, in choosing to divulge this information now are less important than the news about the services he performed for Stalin and the damage he inflicted on the West. A skilled operative and admitted murderer--whose assassination in 1938 of a Ukrainian nationalist was rewarded by Stalin with his personal summons and then his direct order to liquidate Trotsky--Sudoplatov coldly records killing as a method of rule. The Kremlin intrigues he details will inspire major historical revision, damning, particularly, Khrushchev (here fingered on a few homicides) and, yet again, Beria. Sudoplatov's insights into the Kremlin's intrigues of the 1940s and 1950s, combined with the inevitable reappraisal of the Oppenheimer cause c{‚}el{Š}ebre (when the physicist was branded a security risk), are astonishing evidence of secret influences in the domestic politics of both the U.S. and the USSR. Espionage buffs and historians mulling recent NKVD/KGB disclosures (e.g., Tsarev and Costello's Deadly Illusions ) here have their most sensational allegations to date. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Updated ed. edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316821152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316821155
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen M. St Onge on April 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
4/28/99 Pavel Sudoplatov joined the secret police as a boy, and rose to be one of Beria's most trusted assistants, in charge of sabotage, assassinations, and atomic bomb espionage. Though Sudoplatov sometimes gets things wrong (not suprising when working from memory fifty years later), he has a wealth of information on how Stalin's secret police worked, and presents a chilling picture of the kind of people who thought they were building a better world through mass murder. After reading this, you'll have better understanding of how so many Westerners could betray their countries to the USSR, and why so many are still trying to pretend it didn't happen. This new edition has some interesting material that answers criticisms made of the first edition, especially his claim that Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer passed on information about the atomic bomb (I seem to be the only serious student of the Oppenheimer case who believes Sudoplatov on this). Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I read the first edition and bought the second edition just to read the reactions which are printed in the book. Predictably, many still cling to their version of sugar-coated history. Fortunately, historians like Robert Conquest know the real truth. And Conquest said "This is the most sensational, the most devastating, and in many ways the most informative autobiography ever to emerge from the Stalinist milieu". In the updated foreword he again defends the overall veracity of this document. He has good reason to do this.
You won't believe the documentation in the back of the book. Atomic espionage documents, Katyn Forest Massacre, and more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book written by a former enemy, yet a professional intelligence KGB ranking general. It gives a convincing proof of a treasonable behavior of scientists (Oppenheimer, Fermi, etc.) on Manhattan project giving the atomic secrets to KGB and many other KGB spies from ~1920 to mid-fifties. It contains transcripts of Russian atomic bomb research scientists (Kurchatov, etc.) in response to KGB collected Manhattan project information going back to 1942!!! It has a very interesting description of Sudoplatov's interactions with his bosses (Beria, Stalin, Khrushchev, Malenkov, etc.). A must read for students of modern espionage as practiced by KGB.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's been little publicity about this book since it appeared after the fall of the mighty Soviet empire. However, it should be a "must read" for those who wonder what really happened in the turmoil leading up to WWII and through the Cold War.

The author not only occupied one of the few positions where knowledge of the events is first hand but his actions also shaped history from his near invisible position. His early days as a field agent are both instructional and interesting in the period after the Spanish civil war.

Some of the tidbits from the book...........

The Soviets had throughly penetrated both the US government with many of their agents not spies in the classical sense but rather believers in the Soviet cause and willing to subordinate the interests of the US and GB to their Soviet cause allegiance. Stalin probably had more current information on the US / GB nuclear program than did Roosevelt or Truman and that knowledge changed history at several points.

But it was worse, the USSR had agents inside the President's circle both providing information and guiding US policy. The results proved tragic and perhaps resulted in the greatest crimes against humanity in the history of the world, Stalin's post WW2 liquidations and forced labor camps (which were worse than a death sentence ) and the rise of Mao.

The author, armed with information from his British and American based spies determined during the early post war days that the US supply of nuclear materials was limited but also that the US was seriously considering intervention in the civil war in China to stop Mao. Such intervention would include the use of nuclear weapons (a very acceptable strategy in that day and age) .
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By A Customer on August 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is ESSENTIAL to understand Power in the former Soviet Union. It's almost the history of the first decades of the soviet intelligence services written in a reasonably detailled manner. It's revealing on the nature of Power under Stalin rule. I also recommend the Portuguese translation (if you happen to speak Portuguese) since it was very carefully done. If you study this subject in particular get every translation you are able to read! Great book!
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Very good book on tha criminal activities of the KGB. However the author gives only what he consider could be known. He keeps out a lot on the assassinations, name of infiltrateso.
In my oppinion the purpose of the author is to write a book with valuable information without betraying the USSR. An making money by selling it in the West.
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Sudoplatov ran the NKVD's Administration for Special Tasks, which carried out some of the Soviet Union's darkest operations --- assassination, kidnapping, murder, and frequently, terrorism (the author's own words, no less). Sudoplatov also directed undercover and partisan operations behind German lines during WWII. Later he supervised all atomic espionage operations against the US and Britain after the war.
Still a Stalinist at heart, Sudoplatov offers few regrets for a career filled with death up close and personal. One of his first solo operations entailed infiltrating a Ukrainian nationalist group. After befriending one it's leaders for the better part of a year, he dispatched him in Rotterdam with a box of chocolates loaded with explosives. Later, he went on to supervise large roving killer squads himself, such as the team that assassinated Trotsky outside Mexico City in 1940.
The book is filled with surreal scenes, such as in the "Komandatura" in the Lyubianka, where prisoners were executed. One section was outfitted more as a hotel than a prison. But as prisoners were given a "routine" medical examination, they were administered a lethal injection, then quickly cremated. Sudoplatov, himself arrested on bogus charges after Beria'a arrest, describes receiving not one, but two spinal taps while pretending to be catatonic (so as to avoid interrogation). His simple, direct language in describing these kinds of sequences is chilling.
More than a few of the author's historical claims are either suspect or simply false based on information long available elswhere. For instance, his assertion that Stalin was not involved in the murder of Leningrad Party leader Sergei Kirov can't be taken seriously.
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