Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness - A Soviet Spymaster

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9780316773522: Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness - A Soviet Spymaster
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A former KGB officer recounts his role in the murder of Trotsky and obtaining information about the atomic bomb

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From the Back Cover:

According to KGB archives, Pavel Sudoplatov directed the secretive Administration for Special Tasks. This department was responsible for kidnapping, assassination, sabotage, and guerrilla warfare during World War II, it also set up illegal networks in the United States and Western Europe, and, most crucially, carried out atomic espionage in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada. Sudoplatov served the KGB for over fifty years, at one point controlling more than twenty thousand guerrillas, moles, and spies.

But his involvement with the most nefarious Soviet activities-- and the rulers who ordered them-- made Sudoplatov an unwanted witness, and he was arrested in 1953 after Beria's fall. Despite torture and solitary confinement he refused to "confess", disavowing any criminal actions. He spent fifteen years in prison, then struggled two decades more for rehabilitation.

"Special Tasks" is an astonishing memoir and a singular historical document of a man who knew and did too much for the Soviet empire.

From Booklist:

This secret policeman's memoir contains explosive material. The atomic bomb secrets were betrayed not by the Rosenbergs but by none other than Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi. The motivations of octogenarian Sudoplatov, who managed the Soviet nuclear intelligence effort, in choosing to divulge this information now are less important than the news about the services he performed for Stalin and the damage he inflicted on the West. A skilled operative and admitted murderer--whose assassination in 1938 of a Ukrainian nationalist was rewarded by Stalin with his personal summons and then his direct order to liquidate Trotsky--Sudoplatov coldly records killing as a method of rule. The Kremlin intrigues he details will inspire major historical revision, damning, particularly, Khrushchev (here fingered on a few homicides) and, yet again, Beria. Sudoplatov's insights into the Kremlin's intrigues of the 1940s and 1950s, combined with the inevitable reappraisal of the Oppenheimer cause c{‚}el{Š}ebre (when the physicist was branded a security risk), are astonishing evidence of secret influences in the domestic politics of both the U.S. and the USSR. Espionage buffs and historians mulling recent NKVD/KGB disclosures (e.g., Tsarev and Costello's Deadly Illusions ) here have their most sensational allegations to date. Gilbert Taylor

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