Cart

The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal PDF, ePub eBook


Hot Best Seller
Title: The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal
Author: David E. Hoffman
Publisher: Published July 7th 2015 by Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385537605
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

23463183-the-billion-dollar-spy.pdf

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions


reward
How to download?
FREE registration for 1 month TRIAL Account.
DOWNLOAD as many books as you like (Personal use).
CANCEL the membership at ANY TIME if not satisfied.
Join Over 150.000 Happy Readers.


From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history The Dead Hand comes the riveting story of a spy who cracked open the Soviet military research establishment and a penetrating portrait of the CIA’s Moscow station, an outpost of daring espionage in the last years of the Cold War While driving out of the American embassy in Moscow on the evening of February 16, 1978, the From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning history The Dead Hand comes the riveting story of a spy who cracked open the Soviet military research establishment and a penetrating portrait of the CIA’s Moscow station, an outpost of daring espionage in the last years of the Cold War While driving out of the American embassy in Moscow on the evening of February 16, 1978, the chief of the CIA’s Moscow station heard a knock on his car window. A man on the curb handed him an envelope whose contents stunned U.S. intelligence: details of top-secret Soviet research and developments in military technology that were totally unknown to the United States. In the years that followed, the man, Adolf Tolkachev, an engineer in a Soviet military design bureau, used his high-level access to hand over tens of thousands of pages of technical secrets. His revelations allowed America to reshape its weapons systems to defeat Soviet radar on the ground and in the air, giving the United States near total superiority in the skies over Europe. One of the most valuable spies to work for the United States in the four decades of global confrontation with the Soviet Union, Tolkachev took enormous personal risks—but so did the Americans. The CIA had long struggled to recruit and run agents in Moscow, and Tolkachev was a singular breakthrough. Using spy cameras and secret codes as well as face-to-face meetings in parks and on street corners, Tolkachev and his handlers succeeded for years in eluding the feared KGB in its own backyard, until the day came when a shocking betrayal put them all at risk. Drawing on previously secret documents obtained from the CIA and on interviews with participants, David Hoffman has created an unprecedented and poignant portrait of Tolkachev, a man motivated by the depredations of the Soviet state to master the craft of spying against his own country. Stirring, unpredictable, and at times unbearably tense, The Billion Dollar Spy is a brilliant feat of reporting that unfolds like an espionage thriller.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    I have a deep affinity for espionage tales, and I read and loved David Hoffman's Pulitzer Prize-winning 'The Dead Hand' a few years ago, so I was doubly excited when I saw this in my office two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the book didn't really deliver for me. A lot of the book is built off of the cable traffic between the CIA's Moscow station and Langley, and you can tell. There is a cold, impersonal tone to these messages that filters into the narrative of the book, and the drama and stakes of w I have a deep affinity for espionage tales, and I read and loved David Hoffman's Pulitzer Prize-winning 'The Dead Hand' a few years ago, so I was doubly excited when I saw this in my office two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the book didn't really deliver for me. A lot of the book is built off of the cable traffic between the CIA's Moscow station and Langley, and you can tell. There is a cold, impersonal tone to these messages that filters into the narrative of the book, and the drama and stakes of what's happening is deadened by the feeling of wading through office memos. There's also a very odd narrative choice to not examine Tolkachev's motivation and life before turning traitor until two-thirds of the way through the book. I think it's supposed to keep you guessing about him and create some narrative tension, but it fails to do that and simply frustrates. Moving that chapter earlier in the book would cause the reader to care more deeply about Tolkachev and empathize with him and take the book out of the sea-of-memos-feel. Hoffman clearly knows Russia, but the story he tells here could be better.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    If you think you have a strong sense of how espionage was conducted during the Cold War, you’re probably wrong. Histories, and the crowded shelves of spy novels set during the era, offer a cursory and misleading view of the day-to-day reality as it was lived by the men and women who worked for the CIA and the KGB. David E. Hoffman’s outstanding tale about one extraordinary Russian spy for the US and his CIA handlers is truly eye-opening. You won’t be able to look at spycraft in what is called hu If you think you have a strong sense of how espionage was conducted during the Cold War, you’re probably wrong. Histories, and the crowded shelves of spy novels set during the era, offer a cursory and misleading view of the day-to-day reality as it was lived by the men and women who worked for the CIA and the KGB. David E. Hoffman’s outstanding tale about one extraordinary Russian spy for the US and his CIA handlers is truly eye-opening. You won’t be able to look at spycraft in what is called humint — human intelligence — the same way ever again. The Billion Dollar Spy was a Soviet engineer named Adolf Tokachev who provided the US with a prodigious volume of technical data about the USSR’s military capabilities from 1977 to 1985. He served as chief engineer of one of several research and development institutes serving the Soviet air force. Under the noses of his bosses and the KGB alike, he brazenly supplied photographs of many thousands of pages of top-secret data to the CIA, enabling the US to counteract every technical advantage achieved by the USSR in its most advanced combat aircraft. An assessment by the US government of Tokachev’s “production” placed the value at two billion dollars, and that was undoubtedly a conservative estimate. There seems to be little question that Adolf Tokachev was the CIA’s biggest success story ever in human intelligence — at least among those the agency has revealed to researchers. His portrait hangs in CIA headquarters to this day. Hoffman tells this amazing story with great skill and in minute detail. The book reads like a top-flight spy novel, reeking of suspense. But what is most surprising (at least to me) is the insiders’ picture of CIA operations. To call the agency bureaucratic would be a gross understatement: every single action taken by Tokachev’s handlers and every single word they communicated to him was first painstakingly reviewed not just by the head of the Moscow station but also by his boss, the head of the agency’s Soviet division — and often by the Director of the CIA himself. More often than not, the agency big-wigs second-guessed their field staff, denying multiple requests for money to compensate Tokachev, for the cyanide pill he demanded in case he was discovered by the KGB, and for the spyware he needed to photograph top-secret material he had spirited away from his office at the risk of his life. Yet, as Hoffman writes, “Tolkachev’s material was so valuable back at Langley that he was literally ‘paying the rent’ — justifying the CIA’s operational budget — and helping the agency satisfy the military customers.” That bureaucratic meddling was the first surprise. The second was the picture of tedium and frustration suffered by Tokachev’s handlers. Pulling off a single exchange of material at a dead drop might require weeks, with the effort aborted several times for fear of KGB surveillance. Face-to-face meetings with the engineer were often even more fraught with fear. Months went by between meetings, sometimes by design, sometimes by misadventure. On a couple of occasions, Tokachev’s wife inadvertently opened the attic window he used to signal for a meeting, creating confusion and anxiety within the CIA station. And the technology designed by the agency’s answer to James Bond’s “Q” sometimes malfunctioned. Third, though by no means a surprise, is the picture Hoffman paints of the damage suffered by the CIA at the hands of its long-time director of counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton. When his close personal friend, Kim Philby, defected to the Soviet Union after decades of extraordinarily high-level spying, Angleton apparently went off the deep end into paranoia. (Many of his coworkers thought he was nuts.) As Hoffman writes, “Angleton’s suspicions permeated the culture and fabric of the CIA’s Soviet operations division during the 1960s, with disastrous results . . . If no one could be trusted, there could be no spies.” Hoffman adds that, for Angleton, “everything was labeled suspicious or compromised . . .” It’s not a stretch to imagine that the CIA opened up its records on the Tokachev affair as a public relations move to counter all the dreadful publicity it has suffered over the past decade and more. After all, such records are normally classified for fifty years, and Tokachev’s career for the CIA ended only thirty years ago. It’s also sobering to consider the agency’s success with Tokachev in a larger context. As Marc Goodman revealed in his recent book, Future Crimes, Chinese government hackers succeeded in stealing top-secret US military data worth hundreds of billions of dollars. David E. Hoffman is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning contributing editor to the Washington Post.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doubleday Books

    This was a fascinating read. Pulling from previously secret documents and based on interviews with people who were actually there, David E. Hoffman tells the incredibly true story of the Russian engineer who, over the course of 6 years, passed along Soviet technology and military research to members of the CIA Moscow Station and saved the Unites States billions during the Cold War. Full of suspense and intrigue, The Billion Dollar Spy is an amazing look behind the scenes of the CIA in the Soviet This was a fascinating read. Pulling from previously secret documents and based on interviews with people who were actually there, David E. Hoffman tells the incredibly true story of the Russian engineer who, over the course of 6 years, passed along Soviet technology and military research to members of the CIA Moscow Station and saved the Unites States billions during the Cold War. Full of suspense and intrigue, The Billion Dollar Spy is an amazing look behind the scenes of the CIA in the Soviet Union during an immensely tense time in history. - Lauren W. Doubleday Marketing Department

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Intriago

    A very illuminating non-fiction book based on recently declassified material. The items I found of special interest were: 1. The history of the CIA in the Soviet Union and its progression from the 1950s and the 1980s 2. The development of the spying trade craft and its applications and failures when used in the field, items such as dead drops, electronic dead drops, cameras, transmitters and washable ink. 3. Life and purges in the USSR during the Stalin period and the transition to the more liberal A very illuminating non-fiction book based on recently declassified material. The items I found of special interest were: 1. The history of the CIA in the Soviet Union and its progression from the 1950s and the 1980s 2. The development of the spying trade craft and its applications and failures when used in the field, items such as dead drops, electronic dead drops, cameras, transmitters and washable ink. 3. Life and purges in the USSR during the Stalin period and the transition to the more liberal period after his death. 4. The attitude change in the CIA toward espionage from the Carter to the Reagan administrations. 5. The risks that both the CIA case officers and Russian spies took to achieve the gathering of information. 6. The story of dissident writers in the mid-1970s. The story was well documented and told in a very good narrative form. At times the best information was contained in the footnotes. The writing was very good and kept you interested throughout. The only complaint I had with the book was the sequencing of the story. At times the author took side trips to expand the background of a particular character or life in the Soviet Union and this distracted you from the main story. This was only a small distraction that did not detract from what I thought was a very good book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne

    The quiet dad and engineer named Adolf Tolkachev was a nightmare for the USSR in the 1980s, except they didn't know it. Over a period of six years, his sketches, notes, secret photos, and insights put the USA at least a decade ahead in the type technology I know you've seen yourself. Consider the in-flight fighter jet cameras whose videos we've seen glimpses of on the news. When Saddam Hussein marched and flew into Kuwait, attempting to overtake the nation, the air superiority of the US over the The quiet dad and engineer named Adolf Tolkachev was a nightmare for the USSR in the 1980s, except they didn't know it. Over a period of six years, his sketches, notes, secret photos, and insights put the USA at least a decade ahead in the type technology I know you've seen yourself. Consider the in-flight fighter jet cameras whose videos we've seen glimpses of on the news. When Saddam Hussein marched and flew into Kuwait, attempting to overtake the nation, the air superiority of the US over the Russian MIGs was startling to behold. Shock and awe pretty much fit the billing. When we see coverage of precision air strikes, do we even wonder how aviators avoid being shot down by various missiles? Adolf Tolkachev is to thank for that. This book focuses primarily on Tolkachev whose courage and tenacity were incredible. He was motivated to thwart the regime of the USSR because of its ruthlessness and unfairness. Instead of the CIA attempting to woo him, he randomly showed up at a gas station one day in Moscow. He saw the diplomatic plates on one of the cars and went over to offer his services. Suspecting a trap, the CIA ignored him. And ignored him a second time. And a third! If you enjoy the TV series The Americans or are a fan of cold war espionage stories, this nonfiction work will be one to get your hands on. In one scene, two US couples in Moscow get dressed up to attend a birthday party at another's home. The double-date outing has them happily chatting while driving through the evening streets, heading toward the party. One of the wives in the backseat holds a big white box on her lap containing a birthday cake. They are being tailed by the KGB, but you wouldn't know it as they banter back and forth, laughing. As they round a city corner, hubby-at-the-wheel slows down and his friend in the passenger seat jumps out of the car, dons the full face mask of an old man and yanks on an old shabby coat. As soon as he is out of the passenger seat, the wife holding the cake box leans over and places it on the now empty front seat. She pushes a latch on the front, and voila. It pops open as a life-sized Jack in the Box. When the KGB follow-car makes the turn, they still see four profiles - two men up front, two women in the back. The driver occasionally tips the fake-passenger towards him and laughs, making it look like they are sharing a joke. On the side of the street, slowly shambling along is an elderly Soviet man bundled in a beat up coat. The KGB speed past him, disinterested, and he goes on to meet his spy. There are tidbits in here that are fascinating, truly. Other agents' stories are shared, and you'll recognize at least one infamous double agent's name. That said, the book reads rather drily, and its transitions from topic to topic are pretty abrupt. In sum, while the stories are extremely interesting, the writing here could be better. If you go into this NOT expecting literary nonfiction like what Hillenbrand and Larson deliver, then it'll be a worthwhile experience. There are more surprises in here than even that life size pop-up. My hat is off to the men and women who risk their lives in this type work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    The Russ spy Tolkachev, who helped the US beyond measure in the 80s, delivered info on "the MiG fighter, the MiG-25 high-altitude interceptor, the MiG-31 interceptor, and the MiG-29 and the Su-27 multi-role fighters..he compromised versions of the SAP-FIR radar and the ZASLON radar..." Sample writing. Do you know what author Hoffman is jibbering about? Of course not. Hoffman's writing is >> appalling ! He's a hack journalist who was awarded by the CIA a ton of facts which he cannot put i The Russ spy Tolkachev, who helped the US beyond measure in the 80s, delivered info on "the MiG fighter, the MiG-25 high-altitude interceptor, the MiG-31 interceptor, and the MiG-29 and the Su-27 multi-role fighters..he compromised versions of the SAP-FIR radar and the ZASLON radar..." Sample writing. Do you know what author Hoffman is jibbering about? Of course not. Hoffman's writing is >> appalling ! He's a hack journalist who was awarded by the CIA a ton of facts which he cannot put into any shape. His book abt a remarkable Russian who worked for the US in Moscow -- until he was betrayed from within -- proves that you can find superior writing in the telephone book, if they are still printed. Maugham, who was not a journalist, said the profession killed writing. Carl Van Vechten, who was a journalist for 20 years, agreed. They're right. Need any proof? Read this sorriful attempt that is now praised by other journalists, eg David Ignatius, who don't know how to "write" either. Comprised of cables, communiques, evaluation notes, this snoozer, which is more effective than any sleeping pill, takes amazing substance (with limited knowledge of the key player) and chews it up. You yelp, Stop ! Endless stories of surveillance detection or how to play Hide & Seek in Moscow, arguments over the spy's pay and his repeated request for an L-pill (cyanide), descriptions of the latest in mini-cameras, bios of CIAers of no interest -- well, the trivia, the "filler" here will leave you breathless. None of it is "exciting." There are 2 or 3 good anecdotes, usually culled from other spy bios, and we learn that spies, c 1980, left packages near phone booths (now all gone), and there were brassieres that had radio receivers (!), markings like a "V" left on traffic signs that meant : Ok, we can meet, and cameras within key chains, pens, lipstick. (Damn, NO smoking-cigarette cues anymoh!) ~~ Spies also used "secret" specially treated paper, fake faces, wigs, and were quick clothes-change artistes. It's all "illusion" coos author. No, honey, it's all show biz. Today, think telecommunications; it's an important new element. Ah, zo! The wackiest graf in book (p 61) : The CIA sends the spy's handwriting to an "expert" for analysis. (Have you contemplated your scribbles lately, LOL) ~~ Expert replies : "The writer is intelligent, purposeful, and generally self-confidant. He is self-disciplined but not overly rigid," and it goes on and on. AAhh, quelle bullshit !!! Take a memo, To the CIA--.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    I hate struggling to finish a book. I typically only read books that I've heard are good (don't we all?), so if I'm not enjoying a book I'll do my best to either convince myself that there's nothing wrong with me and to just give it up or, if that doesn't work, to keep going until I finally just lose patience with it. So it was with "The Billion Dollar Spy". I've been on a real Russia kick lately, so I've been reading all the good non-fiction on the country and culture I can get my hands on. "Re I hate struggling to finish a book. I typically only read books that I've heard are good (don't we all?), so if I'm not enjoying a book I'll do my best to either convince myself that there's nothing wrong with me and to just give it up or, if that doesn't work, to keep going until I finally just lose patience with it. So it was with "The Billion Dollar Spy". I've been on a real Russia kick lately, so I've been reading all the good non-fiction on the country and culture I can get my hands on. "Red Notice" by Bill Browder? Excellent. "The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin" by Steven Lee Myers? Terrific. Literally anything by Svetlana Alexievich — fantastic. But this ... just didn't do it for me. I went through the Goodreads reviews and people seem to mostly love it, so really, what am I missing?? No idea. For me, this was just an unbelievably dull book — one of those books where, as you're reading, you start to think about what you're going to have for dinner, when you last had borsch, whether the upcoming winter will be a cold one ... And that's not the fault of the subject matter, which, to be honest, is worthy of a much better book. Who doesn't love spy stuff? And set during the Soviet Union? But reading this was the equivalent of watching a Bond movie through a spyglass, of listening to Stravinsky through the wall of a Stalinki (Stalinist apartment blocks known for their thick walls — to keep out the screams, one would imagine). Which is to say, it reads like a very dry memo about one of the CIA's agents. It never feels personal, never allows us to get close enough to feel any tension on behalf of the Russian man-turned CIA spy. It's all very by the numbers, like reading 300-odd pages of statistics on Soviet Russia, or a particularly impersonal newspaper article. If digging through the CIA's archives and reading memos about their agents compels you, then this likely will too. If you prefer your non-fiction to read a bit more Erik Larson though, I'd advise you to skip over this one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allen Adams

    http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/movi... Spy thrillers have long been big business in the literary realm. Running the gamut from John le Carre to Tom Clancy to Ian Fleming to Robert Ludlum, these books have long proven to be page-turning delights, telling tales of the shadowy worlds that exist just beneath the surface. But what if you got your hands on one such spy thriller, only to discover that all that happened within it actually took place? That’s the question with which David E. Hoffman’s "The http://www.themaineedge.com/buzz/movi... Spy thrillers have long been big business in the literary realm. Running the gamut from John le Carre to Tom Clancy to Ian Fleming to Robert Ludlum, these books have long proven to be page-turning delights, telling tales of the shadowy worlds that exist just beneath the surface. But what if you got your hands on one such spy thriller, only to discover that all that happened within it actually took place? That’s the question with which David E. Hoffman’s "The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal" confronts the reader. As twist-riddled and compelling as any fictional adventure in espionage, Hoffman’s meticulously researched book might just be the most thrilling piece of nonfiction you’ll ever encounter. In the days following World War II, the United States was striving to develop its intelligence and counterintelligence agencies. This was the era when the wartime Office of Strategic Services evolved into what became our Central Intelligence Agency. However, as the years passed, it became clear that finding interested insiders in the Soviet Union would prove difficult. Numerous failed attempts and dissent inside the agency itself led many to think that a foothold would never be gained. But when an unassuming man approached the chief of the CIA station in Moscow and handed him an envelope, there was a shift in the very nature of the ongoing battles for intelligence between these two superpowers. The man - named Adolf Tolkachev - was a high-level engineer working on a number of top projects for a Soviet military design bureau. He was also willing to talk. The years that followed were a bonanza of technical information, leading to a multitude of revelations regarding the capabilities of Soviet military tech. The thousands upon thousands of technical specifications Tolkachev passed on gave the US the capability to defeat Soviet radar, allowing for an unprecedented dominance of the skies. There was plenty of classic spycraft at work. Dead drops and miniature cameras and secret codes and furtive face-to-face encounters – it took every bit of CIA ingenuity (not to mention Tolkachev’s courage) to stay one step ahead of the KGB. Despite the fact that the walls had ears and no one could be trusted, this successful partnership went on for years – until betrayal came calling. The Cold War is ancient history to many of us; it’s easy to forget just what kind of world this was just a few short decades ago. “The Billion Dollar Spy” introduces us to some of the unsung heroes who were fighting a battle that most of us would never see, capturing a snapshot of a unique moment in time. It’s a story that would manage to be compelling no matter how dry the presentation, but Hoffman makes the moments come alive. The moments … and the people. Ultimately, this book is a vividly rendered portrait of Adolf Tolkachev, a man willing to defy an entire oppressive regime in order to do what he thought was right. “The Billion Dollar Spy” is the result of Hoffman’s unique combination of skills as both reporter and storyteller. By combing through scads of recently declassified documents and tracking down some of the men who were involved, Hoffman has created something we don’t often see – a piece of nonfiction that is as narratively powerful as any work of fiction. The tension, the twists, the terror and the tears – all of it is rendered that much more powerful by its veracity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bou

    In direct aerial combat over Iraq, the US Air Force downed every Soviet-made fighter that it encountered, without any losses. Next to superior technology, better tactics and pilot training, there was another reason: the United States knew every information about these airplanes, thanks to a Russion spy that saved the US billion dollars of R&D by providing all necesary information it could find about these aircrafts. In this book, David E. Hoffman tells the story of Adolf Tolkachev, a disgrunt In direct aerial combat over Iraq, the US Air Force downed every Soviet-made fighter that it encountered, without any losses. Next to superior technology, better tactics and pilot training, there was another reason: the United States knew every information about these airplanes, thanks to a Russion spy that saved the US billion dollars of R&D by providing all necesary information it could find about these aircrafts. In this book, David E. Hoffman tells the story of Adolf Tolkachev, a disgruntles Soviet engineer that provided the CIA with valuable information. From the start, we read how he contacted the CIA in Moscow, how the CIA handled and informed him and how he was able to acquire the sensitive information. We get a good insight in Adolf Tolkachev, his motivation, his personal life. It is touching to see how he not only asked for money, but also asked the CIA to get him medicine, Russian dissident's books and the latest album of the Rolling Stones. This is a great book to read if you're interested in the spy activities that went on during the Cold War

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton

    Adolf Tolkachev's story is one of brilliant courage and heroism. That it ends in tragedy and betrayal only seems to accentuate the stakes that he faced in his struggle to tear down the totalitarian tyranny of the Soviet state. David Hoffman's telling of Tolkachev's story, as well as of the stories of the American spies and diplomats that worked with him, is thoroughly engrossing, describing in detail the meetings, plans, and efforts made to support one of America's most valuable Cold War agents. Adolf Tolkachev's story is one of brilliant courage and heroism. That it ends in tragedy and betrayal only seems to accentuate the stakes that he faced in his struggle to tear down the totalitarian tyranny of the Soviet state. David Hoffman's telling of Tolkachev's story, as well as of the stories of the American spies and diplomats that worked with him, is thoroughly engrossing, describing in detail the meetings, plans, and efforts made to support one of America's most valuable Cold War agents. Moscow of the late-1970s was a closed city to the espionage efforts of American intelligence agencies. The embassy was bugged and monitored by the KGB constantly. Staffers could not leave the embassy without trailing KGB agents following at an often less than discrete distances. Failed attempts to coopt and develop spies left the station officers shaken and demoralized. Then a break happened: a man approached embassy staff, claiming to have access to Soviet military technology secrets. But was he the real deal, or just a KGB plant to expose CIA officers working in the embassy? After months of delay, the CIA took a chance on Adolf Tolkachev and found one of the most valuable spies to work for the United States. Over the years, he provided thousands of documents worth billions, giving the US a look at Soviet secrets that would tip the edge in military engagements for coming decade and beyond. David Hoffman's The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal is a fascinating story, made more so because of how much it contrasts the Hollywood portrayal of espionage and spy craft. Instead of breakneck car chases through Moscow streets, protecting Tolkachev's identity required hours of patient walks through Russian neighborhoods and parks, involved bus trips with multiple stops, double backs, and frequent disguise changes. Spy craft was a work of patience, painstaking efforts, and nerve-wracking meetings. Slow and steady, clever and crafty were attributes more important than an ability to kill, infiltrate a secret facility, or survive an exploding helicopter. Hoffman tells it with fantastic detail, striking the right balance between the minute and the narrative. As a piece of Cold War history, Hoffman's book is an enjoyable description of a chapter in the competition between the Soviet and American superpowers as it unfolded on the streets of Moscow.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fausto Betances

    Solid 5 stars! This book was as engaging as it was entertaining. I had to wait a long time to get my hands on it but it was worth the wait. Pure cold war thrill, this book combines substance with great storytelling. In the process, it opens a window into the fight for supremacy between the CIA and KGB. How spies operated inside Moscow and how Russian counterespionage functioned. One of the most interesting discoveries was to see how soviet agents, seemingly infallible from afar, committed mortal hu Solid 5 stars! This book was as engaging as it was entertaining. I had to wait a long time to get my hands on it but it was worth the wait. Pure cold war thrill, this book combines substance with great storytelling. In the process, it opens a window into the fight for supremacy between the CIA and KGB. How spies operated inside Moscow and how Russian counterespionage functioned. One of the most interesting discoveries was to see how soviet agents, seemingly infallible from afar, committed mortal human mistakes in executing their duties. e.g.: changing newly imposed security measures in a high security lab due to complaints from secretaries. The processing of the new rules was conflicting with their lunch breaks. It is also evident in the book that, as mighty as they have been, the best CIA operations didn't happen by design. They came about due to frustrated soviet citizens volunteering information. Personal frustration with the Soviet system seemed to have been the main motivation. Great book! Highly recommended!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Economy

    A little too much rehashing of material. But otherwise a really deep look at cia spying in the late 70s - mid 80s.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    This book is a detailed investigation of the rise and fall of one particular Russian spy, Adik Tolkachev, who provided the USA with thousands and thousands of pages of technical secrets between circa 1978 and 1985. Most of the well-known Russian spies belonged to the KGB or GRU, and were usually only active when posted abroad, not when in Moscow and under constant surveillance. This man managed to pull off the seemingly impossible : to have more than 20 face-to-face meetings with a CIA officer i This book is a detailed investigation of the rise and fall of one particular Russian spy, Adik Tolkachev, who provided the USA with thousands and thousands of pages of technical secrets between circa 1978 and 1985. Most of the well-known Russian spies belonged to the KGB or GRU, and were usually only active when posted abroad, not when in Moscow and under constant surveillance. This man managed to pull off the seemingly impossible : to have more than 20 face-to-face meetings with a CIA officer in the heart of Moscow. That, in itself, makes this story unique and worth being read by anyone with an interest in cold war espionage. The book is detailed, both in the discussions of tradecraft and in the description of the technical secrets that Tolkachev passed to the West. I found this fascinating reading, because it helped me realize how espionage contains a lot of tedium (daily checks on whether a specific window had been opened between the hours of noon and 1 pm; hours of walking about the frosty streets of Moscow to evade surveillance). All of these details really painted a chilling picture of Moscow in the late 1970s and early 1980s : the omnipresence of the KGB, the scarcity of food and everyday goods, the sheer dreariness of it all. For instance, I found it so interesting that Tolkachev kept asking the CIA for records of American rock music (Deep Purple! Nazareth! Uriah Heep!) or even simple things like good-quality erasers and drawing papers for his teenage son. The book also provided background on the CIA's evolution as an intelligence agency. From the gung-ho early days, to the paralyzing paranoia of the Angleton years, and then the return to muscular anti-communism under Reagan, the philosophy of Cold War espionage went through several permuations, all of which influenced what the Moscow station could and could not do. The discussions that flowed back and forth between Langley and Moscow are illuminating : it's the typical disconnect between the desk people and the field people. The agents on the ground in Moscow believe in their agent, are concerned about the risks for him, and try to accommodate some of his requests (like a pair of earphones for his son). The folks back at headquarters need to be convinced by the spy's bona fides, force unwanted electronic equipment upon him and keep on asking him to take more and more risks, while simultaneously denying him the cyanide capsule he requests. Among the book's pluses are the map and chronology at the beginning, the extensive footnotes, the bibliography and the attention to detail. Among the book's weaknesses are some disconnects in construction that seemed to have been inserted for no good reason that I can discern. For instance, the first chapter is about one of the CIA agents going through an elaborate ruse to give the KGB the slip and go meet with Tolkachev. But then the next chapter really starts at the beginning : at the very first contact between Tolkachev and the CIA. So that first chapter, which was probably intended to be a catchy beginning, is totally disconnected from what follows. Similarly, we don't find out about Tolkachev's antecedents until halfway through the book, and even that happens only after we read about his wife's family history (and that even though his wife plays no role in the story). I think that these chapters would have been more impactful if they had been placed at the point in the story where the CIA confirms the identity of the man who keeps on contacting them. Still, overall the book was a fascinating read, down to the very end where Tolkachev is arrested by the KGB. The CIA can't figure out what happened, until they start to realize that their most precious asset had been betrayed by a former CIA agent.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    During the early years of the Cold War, the Americans and Russians were intent on discovering information about military research and development, and any other technical information that would be useful in planning for defense and attack in the event of another conflict. Each country tried to infiltrate the other’s highly guarded secrets. Information could be obtained by wiretaps, satellite surveillance, and photographs, but the most valuable information was most often obtained from human intel During the early years of the Cold War, the Americans and Russians were intent on discovering information about military research and development, and any other technical information that would be useful in planning for defense and attack in the event of another conflict. Each country tried to infiltrate the other’s highly guarded secrets. Information could be obtained by wiretaps, satellite surveillance, and photographs, but the most valuable information was most often obtained from human intelligence sources. The Americans had recruited spies in major Eastern European cities, but had never been successful in recruiting a spy within Moscow itself. In January 1977, the chief of the CIA’s Moscow station was at a gas station when a man knocked on his window and gave him an envelope. The message inside was an offer to provide intelligence information to the Americans. Thinking that it might be a KGB trap, the contact information was ignored. Months passed in which the same man persisted in trying to make contact with the Americans. Finally, after many months of trying, the suspicious man again passed an envelope through the diplomat’s car window. Inside was top secret information related to Russian aviation research and development. The information proved to be priceless. The CIA had finally acquired a reliable, highly placed spy — Adolf Tolkachev. For eight years Tolkachev provided technical documents and research that propelled the American research and development process decades into the future. The technological information passed to the Americans by Tolkachev assisted the military in designing systems that are being used by forces in the Middle East today. Tolkachev recognized the inherent danger involved with his activities. The CIA took extraordinary precautions to insure Tolkachev’s safety, but never suspected that betrayal could come from an unexpected source. David Hoffman’s meticulous research into the inner workings of the CIA, and its relationship with the Moscow station, has provided the reader with an unforgettable story of courage, stealth, betrayal, and tragedy.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Neha

    Gripping.. more so for non-fiction, and the similarities between the espionage activities and what one sees in the movies is thrilling beyond words..understanding why US had an edge in technology well into the 90s is explained with the work of a man who decided, at great personal peril, to work for the greater good, and ultimately met his end because another self righteous American brat decided he wasn't given his due credit.. worth a read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    J

    Before even finishing this book, I knew it would immediately rank near the top of my all-time favorite books. Intriguing look into the workings of Cold War espionage that does a tremendous job of realizing the intensity of real like scenarios that unfolded in Moscow. I highly recommend this book to fans of espionage, the Cold War, and military readings.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tom Marshall

    If David Hoffman's the author, it's an outstanding read - period, end of sentence. This latest of his is no exception and in my view may be even a touch better than "The Oligarchs." If that's possible. Highly recommended. The man cannot write a bad sentence, and always teaches with insight and depth while telling very human stories.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

    Terrific. A look on the inside. Nerves of steel. Patience. Abilities to improvise. Determination. Attention to detail. Men and women involved in the Great Game.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Hiebner

    This is a good story of how the CIA operated in Moscow during the Cold War years. The book puts you on the street in covert operations avoiding the KGB and analyses the impact worth billions of dollars, for the US. These type of activities need to continue especially with a former head of the KGB (Putin) in charge of Russia.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Naiya

    This was unexpectedly excellent. I loved the mundane details and the way the narrative entertwined across multiple personalities - all against a backdrop of Cold War tensions. And, in an amusing takeaway, it certainly seems that the CIA succeeded in spite of itself, not because.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The Billion Dollar Spy - David E. Hoffman (I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program. Thank you.) On January 12, 1977 around 6 pm, an average-looking Soviet man leaned into the car that the CIA station chief, Robert Fulton, was filling at a gas station. The Soviet asked if Fulton was American and then said that he wanted to talk. He surreptitiously left a note on the front seat of Fulton’s car and left. The entire event took about 15 seconds. During 1977, the man tried three mo The Billion Dollar Spy - David E. Hoffman (I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program. Thank you.) On January 12, 1977 around 6 pm, an average-looking Soviet man leaned into the car that the CIA station chief, Robert Fulton, was filling at a gas station. The Soviet asked if Fulton was American and then said that he wanted to talk. He surreptitiously left a note on the front seat of Fulton’s car and left. The entire event took about 15 seconds. During 1977, the man tried three more times to contact the Americans at the Moscow CIA station. All of the communication attempts were rebuffed at the instruction of CIA headquarters because headquarters did not want to risk that the man was being used by the KGB as a fake defector. Additionally, after a fire at the Moscow CIA station was responded to by KGB “firemen” in September 1977 and the occurrence of other potentially compromising events, the head of the CIA, Stansfield Turner, ordered the Moscow CIA station to “stand down.” Until the station could guarantee that there would be no future intelligence compromises, no agents could be run and no operational actions could be taken. Although the man had said that he was an engineer who worked in a secret Soviet facility involved with military or defense work, he had not identified himself and so his claims could not be verified by the CIA. In December, 1977, Turner decided that the risk that the man was a KGB dangle was too great to consider him an exception to the stand-down order and told the station to do nothing. On March 1, 1978, the man, who now identified himself as Adolf Tolkachev, provided a note containing valuable new intelligence about the development of Soviet radars. At the urging of the military, the CIA finally decided to permit Tolkachev to be contacted. The first CIA-initiated contact was on March 5, 1978. Over the next seven years, Tolkachev became one the CIA’s most valuable spies. By analyzing his photographs of top-secret reports, documents and schematics, the US knew how to counter Russian air defenses, tactics and capabilities. Tolkachev’s information about the radar in every major Soviet fighter plane of the 1980s helped shape the design of US weapons used for two decades. Estimates of the dollars he saved the US military in research and development are in the billions. Tolkachev was ultimately betrayed and executed by the Soviets in October 1986 as he was on his way to meet a CIA agent. On August 11, 2014, a portrait of Tolkachev was added to the CIA’s gallery at headquarters of its greatest operations. David Hoffman has written a riveting and immensely readable book about true events involving courageous people. His writing is lucid and straight-forward and his research impressive and thorough. He has provided a unique insight into the world of cold-war spying while also vividly describing the physical privations and strict censorship suffered by the Soviet people in the 1970s and early 1980s. Hoffman’s portrait of Tolkachev, with his innocence and guile as well as his devotion to his wife and son, is poignant. The risks that Tolkachev took to obtain the information he provided are chilling; his betrayal is horrifying. If you did not know that this spy story were true, you would assume it was a very good spy novel. Knowing it is true makes it all the more gripping.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fox

    I received this book through the GoodReads first reads program. As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and have been studiously reading through the canon. My favorite of the books, and films, for some time has been From Russia With Love. How could I resist a peek into the real Cold War, then, and all of the complex espionage techniques utilized? Why even try to resist? David E. Hoffman has painted a beautiful picture of the difficulties of espionage in Mosc I received this book through the GoodReads first reads program. As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and have been studiously reading through the canon. My favorite of the books, and films, for some time has been From Russia With Love. How could I resist a peek into the real Cold War, then, and all of the complex espionage techniques utilized? Why even try to resist? David E. Hoffman has painted a beautiful picture of the difficulties of espionage in Moscow during the Cold War. He meticulously documents different techniques used to elude the KGB, the gadgets that made spywork possible, and the manifold difficulties that come from such a tense environment that relies almost exclusively upon the human element. Equipment malfunctions, and unfortunately, people do too. The book was extremely interesting, and the history quite dense. While I agree with several of the other reviewers in thinking that the book could have been structured a bit better in terms of Tolkachev's motives being revealed, it was still a very powerful story. I was continually struck by the variety of people the CIA employed, the level of technology they had at their disposal, and just how difficult it was to truly "go black" during that time. The Billion Dollar Spy does a wonderful job of showing the human element of spying and what motivates a person to defect. It's remarkable how much damage a single driven individual can do.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Growing up in the '70s and '80s, the Cold War and it's concomitant threat of nuclear extinction was constantly in our faces in the form of television specials and pop lyrics. Who remembers "The Day After" or the lyrics to "99 Luftballoons"? But I never really understood what was going on in Moscow. "The Billion Dollar Spy" is the fascinating true story of Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet engineer who for personal reasons wanted to pass critical engineering secrets to the United States. We also learn abo Growing up in the '70s and '80s, the Cold War and it's concomitant threat of nuclear extinction was constantly in our faces in the form of television specials and pop lyrics. Who remembers "The Day After" or the lyrics to "99 Luftballoons"? But I never really understood what was going on in Moscow. "The Billion Dollar Spy" is the fascinating true story of Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet engineer who for personal reasons wanted to pass critical engineering secrets to the United States. We also learn about other Soviet spies, double agents, the lengths and tricks required to "go black" (escape KGB surveillance), and what life was like for the Soviets in the USSR during this time period. It's true the book doesn't read like a novel -- because it's not. It is an amazingly well-researched narrative spliced from CIA operational cables and other source materials to be a story-line a lay person can follow and wonder at. I recommend this book for anyone who would like a better understanding of all the CIA did to protect the United States' from losing world position to the Soviets during the Cold War.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Having just read two books in the same genre by Ben MacIntyre, I found this one incredibly dull, repetitious, full of meaningless detail, and a very convincing portrayal of the CIA as an ineffective bureaucracy populated by incredibly obtuse people. Here are two events amusing in their ineptness. The spy, who lives with wife and 12 year old son in a three room apartment is asked to immediately walk out the door and meet his handler when he receives a call from the handler. After a couple of thes Having just read two books in the same genre by Ben MacIntyre, I found this one incredibly dull, repetitious, full of meaningless detail, and a very convincing portrayal of the CIA as an ineffective bureaucracy populated by incredibly obtuse people. Here are two events amusing in their ineptness. The spy, who lives with wife and 12 year old son in a three room apartment is asked to immediately walk out the door and meet his handler when he receives a call from the handler. After a couple of these calls, the spy has to tell the handler that this is not a good arrangement because his family is getting curious, something the handler had not anticipated. Our CIA hero goes to great trouble and risk to call the spy during the intermission of a ballet performance only to introduce himself to the spy and tell him that he will be in contact at a later time to make arrangements. If each contact is so risky and worrisome, wouldn't you make it count for more? I truly hope that this book is a disinformation campaign by the CIA to downplay their abilities because if it is not we, as a nation, have a lot to worry about.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    An extremely compelling and exhaustively researched true story of soviet engineer Adolf Tolkachev who for years passed on the USSR's most valuable military secrets to the CIA. The book functions well as a historical spy thriller — it is rife with detailed descriptions of tradecraft, dead-drops, smuggled spy cameras and purloined radar schematics — but also does an excellent job of describing the Cold War political, cultural and military environment in which the espionage occurred. That context m An extremely compelling and exhaustively researched true story of soviet engineer Adolf Tolkachev who for years passed on the USSR's most valuable military secrets to the CIA. The book functions well as a historical spy thriller — it is rife with detailed descriptions of tradecraft, dead-drops, smuggled spy cameras and purloined radar schematics — but also does an excellent job of describing the Cold War political, cultural and military environment in which the espionage occurred. That context makes it easy to appreciate just how much the cloak-and-dagger work in the back alleys of Moscow significantly shifted the balance of power toward the US at the height of the cold war. The narrative also serves as an effective character study of a clever and highly motivated man who routinely risked his life to damage the government he despised — and also of the CIA officers tasked with the competing goals of keeping him productive and keeping him safe.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Another tremendous outing by David Hoffman. He walks us through one of the single most critical human intelligence resources of the Cold War. Working off the cables between Moscow station and Langley, it can come off as dry at times, but by the same token, Hoffman is able to demonstrate how valuable the intelligence was, and how often intelligence comes by happy (or unhappy, depending on your point of view) accidents.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Carroll

    Interesting to read about all of the espionage during the cold war. Amazing to think that this one person had such a huge impact on our military technology development. Crazy to think that they had a basic text messaging device and tiny cameras back in the early 80s.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Micahb

    Wow. what a fascinating read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vladimir Vinogradsky

    Awesome Cold War spy story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ian Brydon

    I am always a bit wary of publishers’ blurbs that assert that a new non-fiction book tells a story more fascinating than fiction, but one of the encomia splattered over this book describes is as ‘non-fiction as rich and resonant as a spy novel by John le Carre or Graham Greene’, and that claim seems more than justified in this case. David E Hoffman is a renowned journalist, whose account of the end of the Cold War arms race, The Dead Hand, won the Pullitzer Prize. In this book he directs his for I am always a bit wary of publishers’ blurbs that assert that a new non-fiction book tells a story more fascinating than fiction, but one of the encomia splattered over this book describes is as ‘non-fiction as rich and resonant as a spy novel by John le Carre or Graham Greene’, and that claim seems more than justified in this case. David E Hoffman is a renowned journalist, whose account of the end of the Cold War arms race, The Dead Hand, won the Pullitzer Prize. In this book he directs his forensic research skills to the story of Aldolf Tolkachev, a Russian military engineer, who volunteered his services as an espionage agent, and who throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s fed a vast amount of highly valuable intelligence to the Americans. The field of spy fiction seems polarised either by the technology-strewn James Bond end of the spectrum, with marvellous gadgets designed to help capture the raw intelligence, or the slow, methodical approach dependent upon painstaking human endeavour, as in the world that le Carre has created in which the individual is paramount, and any hi-tech device is a rare boon, often more trouble than it is worth. This non-fictional account seems to encompass both aspects in equal measrures. There is no hint of Bond- or Bourne-like derring-do, but over the years during which Tolkachev continued to mine the rich seam of military intelligence, he was supplied with a succession of exceptionally innovative cameras with which to capture the documents that came his way. These devices were certainly absolutely at the cutting edge of innovation at the time, and enabled Tolkachev to photograph literally hundreds, or evens thousands, of documents over the years. He wasn’t just copying any old files, either. Tolkachev had access to immensely significant papers covering the Soviets’ efforts to enhance their radar capacity. Indeed, in the early days, the quality of intelligence that he was offering was so impressive that it almost served to convince the Americans that he was a plant. Indeed, the Americans seemed reluctant to take him on. During the 1960 ans 1970 there had been a series of failures emanating from Moscow Station, the CIA enclave within the American Embassy, and its activities designed to recruit loval agents had more or less ceased. Tolkachev himself tracked down various American Embassy staff and contacted them, passing on documents as a sample of what e might provide. It was, however, almost two years before he was ‘formally’ recruited as an agent. Thereafter he proved to be the most prolific source of high quality intelligence that the Americans had. The title of the book is a reference (almost certainly an underestimation) of the sums of funding that he is believe d to have saved the American defence industry as the information he yielded enabled the Americans to focus their research and development into areas where the Russians were weak. The book has certainly been exhaustively researched, but the tone is never oppressive or heavily laden. As the blurbs suggest, the story does indeed read like a well written thriller. Highly entertaining and also highly informative.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In order to read or download eBook, you need to create FREE account.
eBook available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and Kindle versions



Loading...