The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive & the Secret History of the KGB

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive & the Secret History of the KGB

by Christopher M. Andrew

But the KGB's main target, of course, was the United States.Though there is top-secret material on almost every country in the world, the United States is at the top of the list.

As well as containing many fascinating revelations, this is a major contribution to the secret history of the twentieth century.Among the topics and revelations explored are: The KGB's covert operations in the United States and throughout the West, some of which remain dangerous today.

The KGB's use of radio intercept posts in New York and Washington, D.C., in the 1970s to intercept high-level U.S. government communications.

The KGB's attempts to steal technological secrets from major U.S. aerospace and technology corporations.

KGB covert operations against former President Ronald Reagan, which began five years before he became president.

  • Series: Mitrokhin Archive
  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.93
  • Pages: 736
  • Publish Date: August 29th 2000 by Basic Books
  • Isbn10: 0465003125
  • Isbn13: 9780465003129

What People Think about "The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive & the Secret History of the KGB"

Well, I don't "binge-read" anything, considering how methodically I read and how quickly I fall asleep when I finally make my way to bed, but getting through this book was an arduous slog. By the time I had gotten halfway through the book, I was really sick of it, and found myself wishing, on every page, that I had a digest version of the thing, half the length, and arranged more chronologically.

I think a review of this book and the history of KGB operations in it provide a valuable insight into how Russia operates today. Before I read this book, I thought reports that the FSB bombed a Russian apartment complex to create a casus belli were the stuff of conspiracy. After reading this book, and getting a unique insight into the KGB culture this book provides, I now believe it entirely possible that the FSB was responsible for bombing civilians as a pretext for the Chechen war in an effort to reestablish the greatness of the Russian state by disaffected members of Russia's security services. If so, that conspiracy would be entirely in accord with the actions taken by the KGB so often in Soviet history, using cynical and manipulative means to suppress the human spirit.

There being much talk now of the Russians attempting to influence the recent presidential elections it is worth noting two things: First, that the U.S.A. has interfered with the internal politics of other countries as a matter of course.

Quite recently a colleague told me that he resented a newspaper columnist who had referred to a relative of his as a communist spy. I knew that his relative was no innocent but a high-level KGB operative. One of the tragedies of the Cold War is that many western communist spies, traitors to their own countries and dupes to one of the worst systems humanity has ever known, managed to rebrand themselves as victims of persecution. Volume I of the Mitrokhin files is bulky and a longwinded.

The only caution I would give is not to dive into this without some background in the Cold War (which I had from various other readings) and some knowledge of the KGB's history (which I did not have). The tone of Andrew's writing tracks well the seriousness and absurdity of the events.

I learned an awful lot about the history of the Cold War. I think the most interesting stuff was the history of Soviet meddling in US elections and (more generally) the overall American social-political system. This is a long quote, but an interesting one: Simultaneously, the Centre implemented a series of active measure designed to weaken the internal cohesion of the United States and undermine its international reputation by inciting race hatred. Thirty pamphlets were mailed to a series of militant black groups in the hope of producing "mass disorders in New York." At the same time forged letters were sent to sixty black organizations giving fictitious details of atrocities committed by the League against blacks and calling for vengeance against Kahane and his chief lieutenants. The attempt to stir up racial tensions in the United States remained part of Service A's stock-in-trade for the remainder of the Cold War. Before the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, for example, Line PR officers in the Washington residency mailed bogus communications from the Ku Klux Klan to the Olympic committees of African and Asian countries. Blacks, Welcome to the Olympic games in Los Angeles!