'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
This blog is a source for intellectual exploration. It includes a list of alternative resources and a source of free books. The placement of an article does not imply that I agree with it, merely that I found it thought-provoking. There are also poems and book reviews. Texts written by me are labelled. Readers are free to re-post anything they like.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Book review - 'I thought I was smarter than almost everybody': my double life as a KGB agent
Undercover: My Secret Life And Tangled Allegiances As A KGB Spy in America
Reviewed by Shaun Walker
On a chilly morning in
December 1988, computer analyst Jack Barsky embarked on his usual morning
commute to his office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, leaving his wife and baby
daughter at home in Queens. As he entered the subway, he caught sight of
something startling: a daub of red paint on a metal beam. Barsky had looked for
it every morning for years; it meant he had a life-changing decision to make,
Barsky knew the drill.
The red paint was a warning that he was in immediate danger, that he should
hurry to collect cash and emergency documents from a prearranged drop site.
From there, he would cross the border into Canada and contact the Soviet
embassy in Toronto. Arrangements would be made for him to leave the country. He
would cease to be Jack Barsky. The American identity he had inhabited for a
decade would evaporate and he would return to his former life: that of Albrecht
Dittrich, a chemist and KGB agent, with a wife and seven-year-old son waiting patiently
for him in East Germany.
Barsky thought of his
American daughter, Chelsea: could he really leave her? And, if he didn’t, how
long could he evade both the KGB and US counterintelligence?
On an unseasonably
warm January afternoon in Atlanta, Georgia, Barsky strides into my hotel and
gives me a firm handshake. Now 67, he has lived a more or less ordinary life
for the past three decades. But the years spent undercover were hard on him and
the people close to him. Only recently has he been able to come clean about his
past. His late coming out has provided an overwhelming sense of release, Barsky
says. “All those years, I had a little man up here,” he says, pointing to the
sandy hair swept across his scalp in a side parting. “He would constantly watch
what I was saying, and stop me from going into certain territory. And then the
little man got killed off, and it was like an explosion.” These days, he is a
garrulous conversationalist who requires little prodding.
Barsky’s story is a
timely reminder of the immense resources the Russians were willing to expend
during the cold war in their bid to embed agents in enemy territory. Hacking
was not an option, and casual travel between Moscow and the west was much
harder. “As I’m talking about this stuff, it feels unreal,” he says of his
convoluted journey from East Germany to the US. “It feels as if it wasn’t me.
But it was.”... read more: