How the Cold War Began: The Igor Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies

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Carroll & Graf, 2006 - History - 355 pages
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On September 5, 1945, Russian cipher clerk Igor Gouzenko walked away from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, with his pregnant wife and two-year-old son in tow. Contacting local authorities, he alleged that a military espionage network was operating in North America. His defection, occurring only a few weeks after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, sent shockwaves through Washington, London, and Ottawa. The three allies--until recently aligned with the Soviets--feared that key atomic secrets had been given to Russian agents, altering the balance of postwar power. In a riveting narrative, Amy Knight chronicles how Gouzenko's surprise defection, and the events it triggered, fanned Cold War fears and quickened the course of modern history. Using newly declassified intelligence files, memoirs of eye-witnesses, and interviews with key players, Cold War scholar Amy Knight explains how this historic defection propelled Western governments into a feverish hunt for Soviet spies and a breakdown in relations with the Soviet Union. As tragic and unwarranted violations of civil liberties occurred in Canada and the U.S., the FBI initiated a campaign to incriminate such Truman Administration officials as Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White. Meanwhile, in London, double agent Kim Philby was keeping his own Soviet masters apprised of what Gouzenko was reporting to his handlers. As Knight explores Gouzenko's motives--creating a rare personality study of a defector--she brilliantly connects all these events to the accelerating pace of the Cold War. [In this book] Knight chronicles a nearly forgotten but seminal episode from the early days of the Cold War, which occurred just as the Truman Administration was planning to remove stewardship of the atomic bomb from the control of the War Department and place it under civilian commission reporting to the president.--Book jacket flaps.

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Review: How the Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies

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If you are interested in a piece of forgotten Canadian history that had deep repercussions for American history, (Joe McCarthy, witch hunts o the 50's), then this book is for you ! It drags a bit in some parts, but overall very interesting. Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Amy Knight has a Ph.D in Russian politics from the London School of Economics. She has been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, and is a world expert in Soviet and Russian security services. She has written for The New York Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The Washington Post, and The New York Review of Books. Her four previous books, The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union (1988), Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant (1993), Spies Without Cloaks: The KGB Successors (1996), and Who Killed Kirov? The Kremlin's Greatest Mystery (1999), have all received prominent international attention. She divides her time between Ottawa and Switzerland.

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