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Book Reviews

Red Spies in America

Stolen Secrets and the Dawn of the Cold War

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Embattled Espionage: Although the Cold War is often assumed to have begun after World War II, during the anticommunist purge inflamed by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, the author concludes that Soviet spying during the 1930s and 1940s actually caused this undeclared war to begin a few years before the Axis powers were defeated.

In Red Spies in America: Stolen Secrets and the Dawn of the Cold War (University Press of Kansas, 370 pages, hardcover, $39.95, 0-7006-1351-X), Katherine A. S. Sibley, an historian at Saint Joseph’s University (Pennsylvania), presents an illuminating investigation of the active and extensive Soviet espionage network that operated in the United States beginning in the 1930s. Included are accounts of well-known, notorious spies, such as Whitaker Chambers and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and lesser known, but effective ones, including Harry Gould and Elizabeth Bentley. In addition, thoughtful commentaries explore why the Soviets would risk so much to spy on the United States during the war when its military and civilian population were decimated by the Nazis, and evaluate the success of the FBI’s counter-espionage program.

This fine narrative of Soviet spying and America’s response to it portrays the Cold War as an era of national anxiety, which bears unsettling similarities to the current era ushered in by 9/11.

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