Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal

The Billion Dollar Spy:  A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal
by David E. Hoffman
Doubleday, 2015.  312 pgs.  Biography.

In February of 1978, Adolf Tolkachev, a design engineer for the Soviet military, stood outside the gates of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow waiting for a car to come out. When the section chief of the CIA emerged, Tolkachev tapped on his window and delivered an envelope filled with a startling array of secret Soviet military plans. Through succeeding years different operatives at the Moscow station worked with Tolkachev to convey information worth billions of dollars to the United States' military as they were able to spend their money to counter only those things which the Soviet Union was actually developing. Tolkachev, whose wife's parents had been killed in the Stalinist purges, was deeply disaffected with his country's repressive politics, and though he asked for money for the materials he was sharing, it was mainly to gauge their value, and he mostly requested rock and roll albums for his son, and Western books about Russia for himself. Taking extraordinary risks, Tolkachev reliably delivered state secrets for years until his downfall, not because he was caught by his own people, but because of treachery from an unlikely source in the West. The Billion Dollar Spy is a compulsively readable book about a brave, good man who acted upon his principles to change the course of the Cold War and of U.S.-Soviet history.


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