The Dangerous Otto Katz: The Many Lives of a Soviet Spy

Jonathan Miles. Bloomsbury, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59691-661-6
Miles (Dear American Airlines) tackles the life of Otto Katz, a Soviet spy, rampant anti-Nazi, and inspiration for Casablanca's Victor Laszlo. Katz was the consummate deceiver, propagandist, and master of disinformation. He traveled the world in support of Stalin's regime and opposing Hitler's, involving himself in intrigues in Mexico, Hollywood, and Spain to name just a few, was finally arrested for treason by the Stalinist government, and executed in Prague. Ironically, Katz was accused of espionage against the Communists, perhaps the one charge he was not guilty of. Miles successfully brings readers into Katz's complex world of espionage and disinformation. While Katz was a Communist and a spy for the Soviets, he never loses the reader's sympathy; he worked primarily in propaganda and not violent crime. Instead of despising him, readers get to know a man dedicated to a belief system that tragically betrayed him. Miles's tale is somewhat meandering, but his look at the Communist side of the years from the 1930s to the 1950s will intrigue readers interested in history or politics. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
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