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Tag: KGB

A Spy Like No Other: The Cuban Missile Crisis and the KGB links to the Kennedy Assassination by Robert Holmes

A Spy Like No Other: The Cuban Missile Crisis and the KGB links to the Kennedy Assassination by Robert Holmes delves into a turbulent time in international affairs for the United States. Holmes describes these two events in the context of the espionage world.

Holmes provides a brief history of the Cold War in Europe as it related to spying by the Russians (through the KGB and its military counterpart the GRU) and the Americans (CIA) and British (MI6). Included in the discussion, Holmes introduces two Russians who played a pivotal role (according to Holmes) in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy. These two Russians were Ivan Serov, head of the GRU and KGB at different times, and Oleg Penkovsky, spy for MI6 and CIA inside Soviet military intelligence.

Although many books have been written about the Cold War and the assassination of President Kennedy, as far as I know, Holmes is the first to connect the Cuban Missile Crisis with the assassination. He theorizes that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in the assassination (nothing new because many others think the same way). But, Holmes takes it a bit further, by reasoning that the President may have been assassinated by a group of rogue Soviet hardliners who were led by Serov and who were eager for revenge against Kennedy’s embarrassment of the Soviet Union in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I am skeptical of his theory, but Holmes brings in some interesting points. One point is Oswald’s visit to the Soviet consulate in Mexico City. Although Oswald should have gone to Washington D.C. when seeking a visa to return to the Soviet Union, he instead went to the Mexico City consulate. This is strange for several reasons: (1) the consulate did not issue visas; (2) he chose an odd time to visit the consulate (on a Saturday morning when no one should have been there); and (3) three Soviet personnel were at the consulate when he visited and all three were KGB agents – one with connections to the hardliners.

If nothing else, the book is an interesting look at the spy games during the Cold War.

Black Ghosts by Victor Ostrovsky

I used to read a lot of espionage fiction. At its best it has a nice blend of action and intrigue with character depth and complex plots. But I haven’t been reading much of it lately.

When I was pitched on Black Ghosts by Victor Ostrovsky it seemed like a nice break and a quick entertaining read. That turned out to be true – to a degree – but it lacked the depth and complexity I was looking for.

Black Ghosts gets its name from an underground Russian group of ex-KGB operatives who secretly control large segments of the military and government in the former Soviet Union.

One of the leaders, Peter Ivanovitch Rogov,  manages to escape from prison in Siberia and plots to return Mother Russia to the glory of the Czars – powerful autocratic rule, not the weak corruption of democracy. Allies inside the US are manipulating the government to help him and thus return the money making conflict of the Cold War years.

A former elite US military and intelligence operative gets inadvertently sucked into the battle to stop this group when a friend shows up at his door shot and bleeding – actually a very attractive women shows up at his door and leads Edward to his friend.

As Edward slowly gets pulled in deeper and deeper, and as Rogov’s plan gets closer to completion, a show down is building. Can Edward save Russia and the United States at the same time? Can former enemies and mafia kingpins work with a makeshift army to defeat Rogov?

In the Mail: Moscow Sting

Moscow Sting by Alex Dryden


Dryden follows up his superb debut, Red to Black (2009), with a riveting sequel. British spy Finn, who uncovered a Russian plan to control Europe’s access to oil and natural gas, is dead, murdered by a KGB-trained Russian criminal. Anna, the beautiful KGB colonel assigned to seduce Finn, but who fell in love with him instead, is in hiding, raising her son, Little Finn. In the post-Bush era, both the U.S. and Britain have realized that Finn was right: Vladimir Putin is an enemy. Now they want Finn’s source, a Kremlin insider known only as Mikhail. MI6 also wants revenge for Finn’s murder. The Russians want Anna for her betrayal. Anna wants to shield Mikhail and keep herself and her son alive. Machinations by all the principals ensue, and Dryden, a longtime student of Russia and the world of intelligence, tosses a new player into the mix: Cougar, a private intelligence company run by Burt Miller, a former CIA spook extraordinaire. The larger-than-life Miller schemes against the CIA, MI6, the Russians, and Cougar’s corporate competitors to hold on to Anna and reel in Mikhail. Red to Black reinvigorated the classic Cold War espionage genre. Moscow Sting—with its clever, devious, conflicted characters; its tension and verisimilitude; and its complex but fully plausible plot—is every bit as good.

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