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Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games Paperback – May 27, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Significant Seven, May 2007: Utterly compelling from page one, Tennent H. Bagley's Spy Wars documents the strange case of Yuri Nosenko, a KGB agent who approached the CIA in the early 1960s (apparently) ready to divulge a treasure trove of secrets, including information on Soviet intelligence operations, KGB surveillance tactics, and even Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in Russia. But was Nosenko a source of legitimate information, or a KGB loyalist sent to misdirect CIA efforts? It's a controversial question to this day, but one that Bagley, as a scion of a storied Navy family and then supervisor of the CIA’s operations against the KGB, is uniquely qualified to dissect. Along the way, he vividly recounts the chess match between the rival intelligence agencies during the opening salvoes of the Cold War, and it’s as cloak-and-dagger as any LeCarre fan could hope--double-agents, miniature cameras hidden behind neckties, microfilm, and other trappings of the spy game abound in this fascinating and fast-paced real-life thriller. --Jon Foro

--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Booklist

Bagley, who oversaw the CIA's operations against the KGB in the 1960s, takes us deep inside the cold war spy game. He focuses on a notorious case, one he was intimately familiar with: Yuri Nosenko, the KGB officer who approached the Americans in May 1962, offering to divulge secrets to the CIA. Over the next few years, Nosenko supplied the U.S. with plenty of information, including some interesting tidbits concerning Lee Harvey Oswald's time in the Soviet Union. But Bagley, who directly supervised the Nosenko case, eventually became suspicious of the Russian agent and began to suspect that Nosenko, rather than a turncoat, was a KGB plant, spying on the Americans in the guise of a traitor (the debate rages to this day). Bagley doesn't pull any punches here, and readers expecting the usual KGB-as-villain, CIA-as-hero story are in for a whole lot of surprises: Bagley reveals that the good guys were just as duplicitous, traitorous, and nasty as the villains. The spy game has never seemed quite so dirty nor the CIA so villainous. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300136242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300136241
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on April 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In 1962 in Geneva a KGB officer named Yuri Nosenko contacted the CIA to supply them with information about KGB operations, before returning to the Soviet Union. In the beginning of 1964, Nosenko unexpectedly surfaced again in the West and re-contacted the CIA. This time he told the Americans that he had had charge of the KGB file on Lee Harvey Oswald, who had assassinated John F. Kennedy only a couple of months before. This time, Nosenko wished to remain in the West. With bait like first-hand knowledge of the Oswald file, who could resist? But more than four decades later, the basic question remains a matter of controversy: Was Yuri Nosenko a genuine defector or was he a KGB plant?

Tennent "Pete" Bagley, the author of the present book, was the first CIA case officer to handle Nosenko and in the early and mid-Sixties he participated in intense interrogations and investigations of the supposed defector. And forty years later, Bagley remains convinced that Nosenko was a fraud, even though the official position of the CIA for many years has been that the man was a genuine defector. If what Bagley states in "Spy Wars" about Nosenko's claims is true, then the only reasonable conclusion would seem to be that Nosenko was indeed a liar (and a not particularly good liar) but, as Bagley points out, the CIA (and many other organizations) is willing to deceive itself when the alternative is painful or embarrassing (and if Nosenko was indeed accepted to be a false defector, that conclusion would be very painful and embarrassing for the CIA which has publically embraced the former Soviet officer).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a former counterintelligence officer and subject to the vestiges of the professional parinoia that is one of the occupational hazards of the field. That said, the Nosenko case, so well discribed by Mr. Bagley, still stinks. The CIA is a government bureaucracy that is even more inclined to labor under the burden of "group-think" than the Department of Motor Vehicles or some other large governmental or corporate organization. That is why the managment of the CIA wants everybody on board with the party line: Nosenko is the McCoy, the real deal.
Nosenko was a plant. The incriminating information that he revealed came before he was sequestered in Virginia. Mr. Bagley claims that the CIA Soviet Bloc (SB) branch had a legal go-ahead from high officials in the administration, the Atty. Gen. for example,to keep Nosenko under wraps. The rehabilitation of Nosenko had more to do with covering up ineptitude than any evidence that would clear up questions about Nosenko's validity. In Legacy of Ashes the author points out that many spies, traitors and moles were revealed by Nosenko. Mr. Bagely refutes this. Who were they, the exposed? Surely now someone can come forward with these names. Nosenko is an adventurer who got to play on the big stage. His efforts to convice the CIA that the communist (Oswald) that shot JFK was not working for, with or had any connection with the chief organ of the Soviet communist party whatsoever.
The House Committee on Assasinations was convinced that Nosenko was lying. This is not to say that there was any connection to the murder but it is safe to say that the Soviets truly wanted the US to believe that there was none.
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Format: Hardcover
In this well written and fast-paced book Bagley, while narrating a

mystery-filled spy case, deals with a timely question: how and why

intelligence and counterintelligence information can be suppressed and

distorted to serve political or other agendas, to the detriment of the

national interest. It serves as a warning to decision makers of the

pitfalls of wishful thinking and self protection.

The book uses the case of the Soviet KGB defector Yuri Nosenko to unveil

a fascinating, hidden world of Soviet deception. In this still

unresolved affair the CIA finally decided that Nosenko was a genuine

defector and served the interests of the United States. This position,

finally adopted by the Agency's "cool heads." used false information

that is exposed in this book. Bagley gives solid reasons to think the

position is wrong and that the KGB sent Nosenko to CIA as a provocateur.

Most important, he reveals for the first time what lay behind this KGB

deception game: moles in CIA and even more dangerous, Soviet breaking of

American secret ciphers--never uncovered to this day..

The Nosenko case developed into a gigantic and sometimes rather dirty

fight within the CIA. In the end the "cool heads" prevailed. William

Colby, after becoming CIA Director, fired the counterintelligence staff

chief James Angleton and closed the debate. But did it really end? After

the Cold War Bagley went out on his own and turned up new evidence from

KGB veterans, and his carefully researched and utterly convincing book

is likely to reopen the issue.

This is an important historical document which will be widely read and

long debated.
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