Spymaster: The Real-life Karla, His Moles, And The East German Secret Police

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9780201407389: Spymaster: The Real-life Karla, His Moles, And The East German Secret Police

In this penetrating look at the life and character of Markus Wolf, the most successful Communist spymaster of the Cold war, the author raises an intriguing question: Did this ruthless and charming man have to pay any price, morally or physically, for forty years as head of the East German Stasi's feared foreign intelligence network?The answer is, not really. As Wolf looks back on his life from his luxury high-rise apartment in East Berlin, he denies any direct responsibility for the human wreckage caused by his service and is unrepentant about his beliefs. In 1995 a high German court seemed to vindicate him, repealing a prison sentence for treason on the grounds that he was only doing his job for the now-vanished East German state.This first biography of Markus Wolf allows readers to judge for themselves, Leslie Colitt, a veteran Financial Times reporter, shows why Wolf was the perfect model for John Le Carré's superspy Karla. He details Wolf's dazzling exploits, such as his recruitment of mole Günter Guillaume, the ex-Nazi whose penetration of Chancellor Willy Brandt's inner circle caused such a scandal that it toppled Brandt's government.The author portrays Wolf as a charming chameleon, father figure, and ladies' man. His agents were fanatically loyal to him, and Wolf often slipped into other countries to wine and dine them personally. But if necessary, he ruthlessly betrayed them, as well as Western spies and targets, to get the secrets his government demanded.Markus was a teenager when the Nazis rose to power and his family fled Germany for the Soviet Union. There Wolf received his first lessons in clandestine activity from the Comintern. At the end of World War II, he returned to the ruins of Berlin, where he hoped to be part of a new Socialist utopia. Recruited by the Soviet-backed secret police, he quickly moved up the ladder until he had become the most powerful arbiter of secrets in all of Germany.This biography is the first reckoning of Markus Wolf, as well as an absorbing account of the cold war's most chillingly effective spy machine.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Evoking a style and mood worthy of John le Carre, journalist Colitt has written more than a mere biography of a master spy. As a longtime Berlin correspondent for the Financial Times of London, Colitt memorably depicts the gritty and dangerous milieu of Cold War Germany. Espionage and intrigue were part of the backdrop to daily life, and within that setting, Markus Wolf flourished. Wolf was the deputy minister of the Stasi, East Germany's notorious secret police, and he organized a web of agents that operated throughout Europe. Colitt relied on interviews (including several with Wolf himself) and influential contacts to construct this engrossing tale of Wolf's life, from his bleak childhood to his aborted trial in 1994. Because Wolf is the reputed model for le Carre's evil genius Karla, this book will appeal to devotees of espionage thrillers, while academic readers will appreciate the historical and political insights. Wolf is also profiled in Jeffrey T. Richardson's recent study, A Century of Spies (LJ 8/95).?Thomas Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

In The Spy Who Came In from the Cold and other cold war classics, John LeCarrecreated not only the world of the Western spy but that of the intelligence groups laboring against the West. East German Stasi secret police spymaster Karla, popularized by LeCarre, was based on Stasi deputy minister Markus Wolf, a real-life spymaster well versed in the intelligence battle. Through conversations with Wolf, his family, his circle of informers or "moles," and even his rivals, such as West German counterintelligence mole Werner Stiller, Colitt, a longtime Berlin journalist, paints a fascinating portrait of Wolf the man and the spymaster from the genesis of the cold war in the 1950s through the erection and eventual removal of the Berlin Wall. Most enlightening, though, is the description of the mindset of spies, especially in terms of their often undefined loyalties, a feature which helps Spymaster bring alive a now-passed era when secret agents were a reality and affected the daily lives of many Europeans. Joe Collins

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