LAW & CRIME

Hollywood Double Agent: The True Tale of Boris Morros, Film Producer Turned Cold War Spy

Abrams. Apr. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781419740091. $27. CRIME
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With this fascinating and detailed narrative, Gill (American history & culture, Univ. of Amsterdam) proves the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Born in pre-Soviet Belarus, Boris Morros served as musical director for Tsar Nicholas II’s court before fleeing to Istanbul and then New York following the Russian Revolution. Morros’s musical background provided the basis of his new career in America, where he began as a theater organist and gradually added teacher, composer, performer, and conductor to his résumé. Morros’s flair for self-promotion and his intentional ambiguity about his past stoked a legendary reputation, which he used to work his way up in the American entertainment industry. His parents and siblings, however, remained in the Soviet Union, and using their freedom against him, Soviet agents soon begin soliciting Morros to act as a spy for them in the United States. For years, Morros spied for the KGB—albeit inconsistently—and agreed to serve as a double agent for the FBI.
VERDICT Gill’s captivating, fast-paced narrative reads like a thriller and will leave readers wanting more. Highly recommended for those who love stories of espionage.

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