Spy stories always fascinate, and Lucas has real ones to share. They center on the activities of a group of ten Russian spies in the United States whose discovery in 2010 created a media sensation. The tabloids were especially keen on Anna Chapman, a comely redhead who emerged as a pop-culture sex icon after she returned to Russia, along with the rest of the group, as part of a spy swap. Lucas also tells the more dramatic but less sensationalized tale of Herman Simm, an Estonian ex-policeman who later became the keeper of Estonia’s top military secrets—and a Russian agent, until he was arrested by Estonian authorities in 2008. Simm prospered less in his post-spying career than Chapman did; he was convicted of treason and wound up in a Tartu prison. Lucas plugs this material, together with an interesting chapter on contemporary spycraft, into a fevered portrait of Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a state thoroughly controlled by the successor agencies of the KGB, which are hell-bent on “rigging” the decision-making of U.S. and European policymakers, disrupting their alliances, and murdering the Russian regime’s opponents.
More Reviews on Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Republics From This Issue