Cold War Secrets: A Vanished Professor, a Suspected Killer, and Hoover’s FBI

Eileen Welsome. Kent State Univ., $24.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-60635-425-4
Welsome (The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War) sheds light on a forgotten mystery in this uneven true crime narrative. Russian history professor Thomas Riha, a Czech native living in Colorado, may be best known today for having edited a seminal scholarly text, the three-volume Readings in Russian Civilization. In 1968, Riha married Hana Hruskova, a Czech woman, but the relationship was short-lived. In 1969, an oddball character, Galya Tannenbaum, who hoped Riha would marry her, apparently attempted to kill Hana on the night of a faculty party. Hana escaped, but Riha vanished that same night “from his home, his table set for breakfast, and the contents of his briefcase scattered across his desk.” The Boulder police took the lead, but behind the scenes both the CIA and FBI investigated, out of concern that Riha was an enemy agent, or possibly the target of a Russian hit squad. Welsome makes a convincing case that Tannenbaum, who was suspected in two other killings, murdered Riha, though conclusive proof is lacking. There’s some sloppiness about facts (Malcolm X’s murder was not part of the House Select Committee on Assassinations), and some fictionalization that’s not identified as such. Those flaws aside, Welsome more than makes the case that the story merits a book-length study. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/15/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 232 pages - 978-1-63101-456-7
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