The Invisible Harry Gold


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The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb

Allen M. Hornblum

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The first account of one of the most important and enigmatic spies in U.S. history: the man who delivered the plans for the atom bomb to the Soviets

In the history of Soviet espionage in America, few people figure more crucially than Harry Gold. A Russian Jewish immigrant who spied for the Soviets from 1935 until 1950, Gold was an accomplished industrial and military espionage agent. He was assigned to be physicist Klaus Fuchs’s “handler” and ultimately conveyed sheaves of stolen information about the Manhattan Project from Los Alamos to Russian agents. He is literally the man who gave the USSR the plans for the atom bomb. The subject of the most intensive public manhunt in the history of the FBI, Gold was arrested in May 1950. His confession revealed scores of contacts, and his testimony in the trial of the Rosenbergs proved pivotal. Yet among his co-workers, fellow prisoners at Lewisburg Penitentiary, and even those in the FBI, Gold earned respect, admiration, and affection.

In The Invisible Harry Gold, journalist and historian Allen Hornblum paints a surprising portrait of this notorious yet unknown figure. Through interviews with many individuals who knew Gold and years of research into primary documents, Hornblum has produced a gripping account of how a fundamentally decent and well-intentioned man helped commit the greatest scientific theft of the twentieth century.

Allen M. Hornblum has been executive director of Americans for Democratic Action, chief of staff of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, and a college lecturer. His previous books include Sentenced to Science, Acres of Skin, and Confessions of a Second Story Man. He lives in Philadelphia.

"A riveting page-turner."—Ron Radosh, The Weekly Standard

"A welcome corrective. . . . Hornblum presents us with a balanced portrait, tracing Gold's hardscrabble young life, his slow entanglement with the Soviet espionage network and the many unhappy years he spent working on Moscow's behalf. . . . [A] finely crafted biography."—Michael Ybarra, Wall Street Journal

“Allen Hornblum's detailed and fascinating portrait of Harry Gold makes readers understand how and why he became a spy. Without attempting to justify Gold's betrayals, Hornblum humanizes him and presents a sad yet oddly appealing human being.”—Harvey Klehr, Emory University

"Solidly researched, seamlessly plotted, and expertly written, The Invisible Harry Gold is a page-turning account of one well-intentioned soul's descent into espionage and treachery. Readers in search of a dramatic piece of American history will not go wrong with Hornblum's gripping narrative of the twentieth century's most improbable spy.”—Jeffrey Ian Ross, author of Dynamics of Political Crime

“No one, until now, has given Harry Gold his due. Allen Hornblum has shown convincingly the importance of Harry’s place in this story, and in the process revealed his humanity, his kindness, his many struggles, personal and legal, and his desire for freedom—all of them overlooked in the all-too-frequent caricatures of the man that have for too long passed as historical analysis.”—Katherine Sibley, author of Red Spies in America: Stolen Secrets and the Dawn of the Cold War

"In this fresh and extraordinarily insightful look at a pivotal spy case, Allen Hornblum digs beneath the simplifications of ‘good versus evil’ to show how a decent and kind person could be led into what his contemporaries called "the crime of the century." In the process he throws a bright light on the tradecraft used to steal the hottest secrets of the Cold War."—Tennent H. Bagley, author of Spy Wars: Moles, Mysteries, and Deadly Games

"Astonishing. . . . The Invisible Harry Gold now joins other groundbreaking works published in the last 40 years that have described how far certain Americans. . . would go to betray their country. The story still has the power to shock."—Robert Leiter, Jewish Exponent

"…does—in detailed and dramatic fashion—just what it says on the cover,"—Jewish Chronicle

"Hornblum tells this gripping story with verve and an eye for detail that both humanises the sly and powers the narrative…a thought-provoking, finely told and compassionate account of Gold’s life."—Tim Tzouliadis, Literary Review

"[A] fascinating psychological portrait."—Morton I. Teicher, The Buffalo Jewish Review

"Allen Hornblum has succeeded in writing a critical study of a man for whom one cannot help but feel sympathy."—Ronald Radosh, The Weekly Standard

"Hornblum goes into fascinating detail about Gold's motives, activities, relationships with his family, arrest, imprisonment, and post-prison life as a respected clinical chemist."—George M. Eberhart, Association of College & Research Libraries

"[A] fascinating psychological portrait. . . . Hornblum has succeeded fully in humanizing the subject of his perceptive biography."—Morton I. Teicher, The Jewish Chronicle

"This is one riveting biography."—Matt Nesvisky, Jerusalem Report

"[A]n exhaustive analysis of Gold, his life, and his actions."—Mary Kathryn Barbier, Journal of Cold War Studies
ISBN: 9780300177572
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
464 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
38 b/w illus.