ALEXANDER ORLOV: The FBI's KGB General

Edward Gazur, Author . Carroll & Graf $30 (608p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0971-7

This account of a high-ranking Soviet operative turned FBI spy offers some explosive new information about Stalin, but leaves many questions about Orlov's life unanswered. General Orlov, the KGB's highest-ranking defector, fled to the U.S. in 1938. In the 1950s, he came to the FBI with information on Stalin's purges (much of which he also shared with the public in his book The Secret History of Stalin's Crimes). Gazur, an FBI special agent, debriefed and befriended Orlov during the latter's final days in the early 1970s. The book is strongest in detailing Orlov's flight to the West; he evaded a kidnapping plot at a time when Stalin was decimating Red Army officers in the second great purge. The most shocking revelation, which comes from Orlov's unpublished memoir, is that in 1912 and 1913 Stalin had betrayed the Bolsheviks as a spy for the czar's secret police. Apparently, this information fell into the hands of several Soviet generals in the 1930s—the very ones who were soon executed by Stalin, inaugurating the Red Army purge. While this provocative information is likely to cause a stir, Gazur is weaker on Orlov's life in the United States. He claims that Orlov eluded both KGB and U.S. agents for 15 years, yet the mechanics of this improbable feat are not explained. It's also not clear what kind of information Orlov was giving the U.S. in order to remain on their payroll for so long. Gazur concludes with a questionable theory that the KGB might have killed Orlov, which will leave many readers unconvinced. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
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