In This Review In This Review
Man Without a Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster
By Markus Wolf
Times Books, 1997, 367 pp.
Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War
By David E. Murphy, Sergei A. Kondrashev, and George Bailey
Yale University Press, 1997, 530 pp.
As sometimes happens, the rascal wrote the better book. Wolf was East Germany's most famous and successful spymaster, and though he does not reveal all, he tells an intriguing tale. Some will be surprised or dismayed to learn that, yes, during the 1980s the East Germans did indeed fund portions of the West German "peace movement" and provide a safe haven for terrorists. Wolf's selective memory, continual attempts at self-exculpation, and specious resort to the argument that the West behaved as badly as the communists are neither convincing nor appetizing.
Murphy and Kondrashev obtrude less in the account they, a retired American and Soviet spy, have written with a former American journalist. All three men in different ways operated in and around Berlin and know the city well. Part of a fascinating Yale University Press series on the Cold War seen in part from the vantage point of the Soviet archives, this book covers primarily the grim glory days of the Cold War in Berlin -- the period up to the building of the Berlin Wall. The lacunae are numerous (there is very little here, for example, from the Soviet side on the operations of Soviet military intelligence), and Bailey's efforts to reconcile his co-authors' views of reality do not always succeed. Nonetheless, this is a major contribution to the intelligence history of the Cold War.
Source URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/1997-11-01/man-without-face-autobiography-communisms-greatest-spymaster