Stalin's Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring

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9780312193393: Stalin's Spy: Richard Sorge and the Tokyo Espionage Ring

Richard Sorge was one of the most successful international spies of modern times. Born to a Russian mother and German father, he ran a highly sophisticated espionage ring under the noses of Japan's infamous secret police. He penetrated the German embassy in Tokyo as a trusted Nazi journalist and rapidly established himself as a confidant of the ambassador, privy to highly secret information of a military and political nature relayed from Berlin. From 1933 until he was finally caught late in 1941, Sorge transmitted a steady stream of priceless information to Red Army intelligence (GRU). His group of dedicated men and women not only kept Stalin informed about German and Japanese intentions, but also exerted considerable influence on decisions made by both governments.

In one of several intelligence coups, Sorge told Stalin of the planned German invasion of the Soviet Union--intelligence that the Soviet leader disbelieved and disregarded. Later in the same year he reported, via the network's clandestine transmitter, that the Japanese had decided against attacking Siberia. Sorge's prediction that Japan had opted for war with America and Britain, rather than with the Soviet Union, enabled Stalin to concentrate on saving Moscow from the German advance--and thus contributed significantly to the defeat of Nazism. Ultimately abandoned to his fate by Stalin, Sorge became the first European to be sentenced to death by a Japanese court. After a prolonged ordeal, he was executed in Sugamo prison in 1944.

Using hitherto unpublished Russian papers, as well as the testimony of Japanese and German contemporaries, Robert Whymant brings to life one of the great spy dramas of this century. More compelling than any spy fiction, Whymant's book is the fullest account to date of Sorge's extraordinary life, and reveals the extent to which a series of passionate sexual liaisons, along with his mesmerizing hold over people, played a central part in Sorge's career as a spy.

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Review:

Dr. Richard Sorge, writes British journalist Robert Whymant, deserves to be considered "one of the most successful spies in modern history." The grand-nephew of a close comrade of Karl Marx, Sorge became an active member of the German Communist Party after being wounded in World War I. Having moved to Moscow, he then worked in the Soviet intelligence service, returning to Germany in the early 1930s. Securing work as a journalist after passing himself off as a supporter of the Nazi regime, Sorge traveled to China and then to Japan, where he became a confidant of German and Japanese businessmen and diplomats. The information he gathered from these contacts he sent on to Moscow. He eventually recruited a small circle of Japanese and European associates, and his spy ring operated successfully under the noses of the redoubtable Japanese secret service. Despite the reliability of his reports, Whymant notes, Sorge's intelligence was often dismissed--as when he warned that the Germans were planning to invade the Soviet Union. When the Germans did indeed invade, however, his stock rose, even if Stalin doubted Sorge's assurances that the Japanese would not join their German allies in attacking eastern Russia. The Japanese finally arrested Sorge in 1941, and three years later he was hanged for espionage, along with most of his confederates. Whymant's gripping account makes a powerful case for their being regarded as heroes in the antifascist cause. --Gregory McNamee

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Praise for Stalin's Spy:

"Enthralling..." --London Review of Books

"As readable as a first-rate thriller...Whymant tells the story extremely skillfully, combining amusing detail of everyday life and erotica, with the tale of the problems of the greatest strategic and intelligence importance." --Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"In his penetrating biography, Robert Whymant delves into the nether regions of human betrayal." --The Observer (UK)

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