Agent Sniper: The Cold War Super Agent and the Ruthless Head of the CIA Who Despised Him

Tim Tate. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-27466-3
In this well-researched but somewhat dull Cold War espionage saga, journalist and filmmaker Tate (Body for Rent) details the brilliant and tragic career of Michał Goleniewski, a lieutenant colonel in Poland’s intelligence service and KGB spy who defected to the U.S. in 1961. Citing declassified Polish sources along with British and American materials, Tate recounts how Goleniewski exposed George Blake, Harry Houghton, and other spies who had infiltrated Western intelligence agencies after WWII. Unfortunately, potentially dramatic moments, such as Goleniewski’s journey to West Berlin to defect, are anticlimactic, and Goleniewski himself remains a shadowy figure. Instead, Tate focuses on the rivalries within intelligence communities and draws a sharp portrait of Goleniewski’s nemesis, CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton, who believed the Soviet bloc spy was passing on “bogus leads and fake intelligence.” Tate alleges that Angleton’s distrust of Goleniewski was unfounded, and that he mishandled the spy and the East German mistress with whom he defected, contributing to Goleniewski’s waning mental health and bizarre claims to be Alexei Nikolaevich Romanov, the heir to the Russian throne. Though Tate rescues Goleniewski from obscurity and sheds light on the inner workings of the CIA, this granular history is best suited to completists. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/15/2021
Release date: 12/14/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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