Thursday 12 January 2023

Book Review: Secrets of the Cold War by Andrew Long

Having had a long-term interest in the history of espionage, and in particular the Cold War period I was intrigued to read this book. I have a fair knowledge of the Cambridge Spies and I know a little about the Berlin Wall and the animosity that occurred during the partition of German. However, I had never really tied it all together and achieved an understanding of the whole history of the spying that occurred during that time.

This book, Secrets of the Cold War by Andrew Long, has given me an excellent overview of the whole period, with fairly in-depth coverage of the main historical events of the secret war.

The first chapter mainly concentrates on the Atomic Spies, starting during the Second World War and leading right into the Cold War. I was aware of some of these,  but again the book gives an excellent overview and shows how the different spies and spy rings interacted and complimented each other.

Chapter two looks at Berlin and the American tunnel that was dug under the Berlin Wall to tap into East German phone lines. A huge espionage success for the West, which had, even before it was completed, been betrayed to the Soviets... 
Next up, the book moves to the South Coast of England and the Portland Spies, followed by Oleg Penkovsky, the Russian Colonel who became an important source of information for the West, before he was ultimately caught.

Of course, overshadowing all of the different soviet spies featured in the book were the Cambridge Spies, Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt and Cairncross. 

The final chapter of the book looks at an aspect of Cold War espionage that I had not heard of before. The Military Liason Missions that ran throughout East (and West) Germany. 

The Liason missions were an integral part of the partition agreement that divided Germany after World War Two. Basically, Britain, the US and France were allowed to send regular missions (typically three military personnel in a car) into East Germany to travel around and observe/liaise with the East Germans. There were restricted areas that the missions were not allowed to enter, and there was often tension between the East German / Soviet forces and the missions (which led to at least two deaths of mission personnel). However, the missions often went above and beyond their stated objectives and acquired a lot of intelligence about the opposing forces' dispositions and equipment. I must also add that the East Germans also ran liaison missions in West Germany, although these are only really mentioned in passing.

 I found the book to be an excellent resource and overview of the Cold War (at least in terms of East/West espionage). I especially enjoyed discovering the history of the Military Liasion missions. I am surprised that there have not been any movies made depicting the exploits of some of these missions, as I am sure there is plenty there to work with!

If you are interested in spies, the Cold War or the modern history of Germany you can't really go wrong in picking up this book.

Highly Recommended!

Get it HERE!

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