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The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America

John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev

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An unprecedented exposé of Soviet espionage in the United States during the 1930s and 40s

This stunning book, based on KGB archives that have never come to light before, provides the most complete account of Soviet espionage in America ever written. In 1993, former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev was permitted unique access to Stalin-era records of Soviet intelligence operations against the United States. Years later, living in Britain, Vassiliev retrieved his extensive notebooks of transcribed documents from Moscow. With these notebooks John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have meticulously constructed a new, sometimes shocking, historical account.

Along with general insights into espionage tactics and the motives of Americans who spied for Stalin, Spies resolves specific, long-seething controversies. The book confirms, among many other things, that Alger Hiss cooperated with Soviet intelligence over a long period of years, that journalist I. F. Stone worked on behalf of the KGB in the 1930s, and that Robert Oppenheimer was never recruited by Soviet intelligence. Spies also uncovers numerous American spies who were never even under suspicion and satisfyingly identifies the last unaccounted for American nuclear spies. Vassiliev tells the story of the notebooks and his own extraordinary life in a gripping introduction to the volume.

John Earl Haynes is a modern political historian in the Manuscript Division, the Library of Congress. He lives in Kensington, MD. Harvey Klehr is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History, Emory University. He lives in Atlanta, GA. Haynes and Klehr are coauthors of Venona. Alexander Vassiliev, journalist, novelist, and coauthor with Allen Weinstein of The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America, now lives in the UK.

"So outstandingly authoritative and convincing is this material that it will take an honored place alongside the basic sources on Soviet espionage in the United States. Here, the heart of the KGB is laid out as never before."—Tennent Bagley, author of Spy Wars

“This work should serve as the final salvo in the long battle between those who are still in denial regarding KGB espionage in America in the 1930s and 40s and those who assert that this story must be told.”—David Murphy, author of What Stalin Knew

“An original and important book based on scholarship of the highest standards.”—Hayden B. Peake, former Army and CIA intelligence officer

"Using now available Soviet sources, this valuable book tells the sobering and frightening story of the extent to which ideology will blind clever people and lead them to betray their country, democracy and freedom."—Paul Johnson, author of A History of the American People

“This is an important book for students of history and espionage.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

"[The book] succeeds as an indictment of an entire era in which some of the nation's best and brightest sold their souls to a foreign master—and as a stinging, definitive rebuttal to those who have defended Alger Hiss all of these years."—Justin Raimondo, The American Conservative

"[Spies] shows how the Soviets went about the business of spying, its failures and successes, and, most interestingly, the names of the Americans from whom the KGB received information."—Alex Kingsbury, US News & World Report

"Vassiliev's sources prove conclusively that the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss were guilty of spying and further illuminate the extent of Soviet espionage attempts on the Manhattan project (while vindicating J. Robert Oppenheimer). . . . This work does more than just finger KGB operatives; it offers insight into the spies' personalities and motives."—Harry Willems, Library Journal

Read the H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews by four scholars, as well as the Author's response, at
"Much of the value of Spies lies in the unique perspective provided by the notebooks."—John Ehrman, Central Intelligence Agency
"Spies reveals as much as we will probably ever know about Soviet espionage in America from 1933 to the late 1940s. And that’s a lot."—Benjamin B. Fischer, Center for the Study of Intelligence 
"Klehr, Haynes, and Vassiliev have given an incredibly detailed x-ray, MRI even, of Soviet espionage in America, and have surrounded it with analysis that shows their lifetimes spent studying the records of the American Communist Party, espionage, and tradecraft. What is most newsworthy is the conclusive confirmation of what had been conjectured, although without too much doubt, about the identities of the spies exposed by the Venona documents: Hiss, White, and others. . . . most knowledgeable readers will be more impressed by other aspects of this most remarkable book."—Richard Gid Powers, College of Staten Island and Graduate School, CUNY 
"Over the years, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have dedicated themselves to the task of serving as intermediaries between that esoteric world of the espionage groupies and the much staider community of professional historians. . . . From the microfilming of the American Communist party (CPUSA) and Comintern records to the current internet posting of the Vassiliev notebooks, their dissemination of the documentary record has been exemplary."—Ellen Schrecker, Yeshiva University

“John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev present persuasive evidence.”--Commonweal

 “This magisterial book transcends the old debates and paradigms, and provides the most complete and thorough account of what Soviet espionage agents actually did in the United States.”--Ronald Radosh, The Weekly Standard


"This book is a mammoth achievement given the labor-intensive detective work and expertise required to draw conclusions from KGB sources: synthesizing raw new information with data disentangled from Venona decrypts and FBI/NSA files, tracking and matching people to ever-shifting cryptonyms, and mapping Byzantine networks of spies, couriers, handlers, and station chiefs."—K.A. Cuordileone, American Historical Review 

"I'v reviewed intelligence books for decades.  Spies is truly the best read yet." —Joseph C. Goulden, Sunday Times

"A riveting tour de force that will astonish readers with the breadth of Soviet espionage." —C. C. Lovett, Choice 

“This book is part of an internal cultural/intellectual war within the USA about how to interpret the early years of the Cold War. To this reviewer at least, its case is thoroughly convincing.”—Philip Boobbyer, Slavonic and East European Review Vol.89 No.2

Finalist for the 2009 Book of the Year Award, presented by ForeWord magazine
ISBN: 9780300123906
Publication Date: May 26, 2009
704 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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