Association of Former Intelligence Officers

Allen Weinstein & Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America -- the Stalin Era, Random House 1998, 402pp. Based on documents from KGB archives which were available during a 2 year window after the end of the Soviet Union, this book documents espionage by a number of the Americans accused during the McCarthy era -- Alger Hiss, Laurence Duggan, Michael Straight, Lauchlin Currie, and senior OSS officer, Duncan Lee, etc. While none of those names are new, their appearance in KGB files (one document is about a Soviet decoration secretly awarded to Alger Hiss for his espionage successes), certainly ends all doubt. Of note, while the authors did not find any evidence that J Robert Oppenheimer was a spy, they did find documentation that he was a secret member of the Communist Party USA. 99/01/03/reviews/990103.03persict.html

Reviewed in AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #01-99, 4 January 1999

The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America - The Stalin Era, by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassilev, Random House, 400 pages, $30.00. Why do people betray their countries - or their parents - and become spies? The phenomenology of espionage and betrayal is both straightforward and complex. This book deals with spies motivated by communist/socialist idealism, dedicated Soviet-inspired fanatics undeterred by facts published about Stalin's terrifying record of genocide and terror. ( On the other hand, it must be noted that they were living and operating in a society in which capitalism was under great pressure from the shock of the depression in the thirties (which, incidentally, was not as severe as the one in Germany during the Weimar Republic or the current one in Russia) and also, during the war, suffused with wartime pro-Soviet Government political bias and propaganda.) Based on hitherto closed Soviet archives of the Stalin-era Soviet secret police, it is shocking to read about the enormous network of Americans willingly engaged in treason on behalf of the Soviets during and after World War II and the extent of the penetration of spies and agents of influence (fellow travelers) in American institutions. Supplementing the VENONA revelations, this book provides a documented glimpse of the day-to-day operations of the Stalin-era espionage and agents-of-influence apparat. Essential reading for students of the era and espionage phenomenology. (RoyJ)

Reviewed in AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #04-99, 24 January 1999

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