Intelligence / Agencies / USSR

Barron, John. KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents. New York: Bantam Books, 1974. 624 pages.

Barron, John. KGB Today: The Hidden Hand. New York: Berkley Books, 1983. 425 pages.

In 1974 John Barron, a former intelligence officer and a senior editor of Reader's Digest, received money and researchers from his bosses to write "KGB: The Secret Work of Secret Agents." Most of the book relates the ugly exploits of KGB assassins and disinformationists in typical Digest idiom, based on the debriefings of various defectors. This material was not indexed in NameBase. Of more interest was the appendix of 1,600 names of alleged KGB and GRU officers posted abroad under diplomatic cover. This appendix was a retaliation for "Who's Who in CIA," published in East Germany in 1968 by Julius Mader. Barron told the New York Times (12/25/77, p. 12) that he received "quite a bit of help" from the CIA.

After 11 printings of the 1974 book, Barron followed up with "KGB Today" in 1983. The Digest knows a mass market when it sees one. This new volume had an appendix of 200 names of Soviets expelled from foreign countries for espionage activities.

As with most transliterated names, several variations of spelling are probably in current use. This requires the use of the phonetic or leading letters search in NameBase to find every citation.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. Sword and Shield: The Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus. Cambridge MA: Ballinger Publishing, 1986. 279 pages.

Political science professor Jeffrey Richelson is one of the few writers who treats the topic of Soviet intelligence with the detached thoroughness that it ultimately deserves. Too many writers are defectors trying to earn their meal ticket with inside anecdotes, or mass-market authors who collect questionable information from Western intelligence contacts or anti-Communist ideologues.

The chapter headings include History; Structure and Functions of the KGB and GRU; The Soviet National Security Apparatus; HUMINT (officers and agents, embassy ops, cover); Technical Collection (signals intelligence, ocean and space surveillance, nuclear detection monitoring); Open Sources (political, military, and economic intelligence collection); Active Measures (forgeries, propaganda, terrorism, assassinations); Acquisition of Advanced Technology (spying as an alternative to your own R & D); Counterintelligence (penetrations, disinformation, and deception); The Warsaw Pact and Cuban Services; Internal Security; and Political Police Operations. Each of these 12 chapters has an average of 70 endnotes, frequently citing authors who are academic specialists on some aspect of the Soviet system.


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