HISTORY

Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War’s Most Audacious Espionage Operation

Custom House. Sept. 2019. 544p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062449627. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062449610. HIST
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Washington Post reporter Vogel tells the captivating story of British spy–turned–double agent George Blake (b. 1922), who was recruited by the Soviet Union because of his socialist leanings, knowledge of multiple languages, and rising position in MI5. The Berlin Crisis of 1961 magnified the need for accurate intelligence on the Soviet Union. Official communications from the area to East Berlin went through underground telephone cables, three of which ran within a few hundred yards of West Berlin. The CIA and MI5 hatched a plan to tunnel under a highway into East Berlin and tap the three main feeder cables handling most of the secret Soviet communication traffic. Before the tunnel could begin, Blake had passed preliminary drawings with location and plans to his Soviet handlers. Blake was considered such an important asset that the KGB did not inform political leaders for more than a year after the tunnel was finished, allowing major espionage leaks to the Americans and British. David Stafford’s Spies Beneath Berlin presents a similar story while Roger Liles’s The Berlin Tunnel offers a fictionalized accounting.
VERDICT This captivating study will thrill World War II buffs as well as mystery readers of all ages. [See Prepub Alert, 3/17/19.]

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