The Spy Who Saved the World: How a Soviet Colonel Changed the Course of the Cold War

Jerrold L. Schecter, Author, Peter S. Deriabin, With Scribner Book Company $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19068-6
During the Cold War the CIA's premier agent in the Soviet Union was a high-level intelligence officer named Oleg Penkovsky. For two years in the early 1960s he supplied the CIA with highly classified information on Soviet rocket strength and strategic planning, information that assisted President Kennedy in his handling of the world's first nuclear confrontation, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. In the author's view, no spy in history has provided more useful material or had greater impact. Granted access to transcripts of Penkovsky's debriefings in Paris and London by U.S. and British intelligence, Schecter and Deriabin bring into focus for the first time Penkovsky's character and personality, his motivations for betraying his country, and the dimensions of the risks he took. The book concludes with a gripping account of how Penkovsky was caught by the KGB, his trial and 1963 execution. The authors call Penkovsky a fearless prophet whose heroism saved the world from nuclear war. A thoroughly good read, the book is rich in details of intelligence fieldcraft and specifics on how the CIA ``ran'' its operatives. Schecter is a former Time-Life bureau chief in Moscow; Deriabin, a former KGB official, defected to the West in 1954. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1992
Release date: 03/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next