From Revolution to World War II

1917 - 1939

A - I

Akhmedov, Ismail. In and Out of Stalin's GRU: A Tatar's Escape from Red Army Intelligence. Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1984.

Bailey, F.M. [Col.] Mission to Tashkent. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. 2002. [pb] London: Trubner, 2003.

Wyatt, I&NS 8.2, says this book was "impossible to put down." It concerns "Bailey's activities in Russian Central Asia" in the period immediately after Russia had dropped out of World War I. The Foreign Office withheld the book from publication until 1946. This reprint is "fascinating and informative."

Barros, James, and Richard Gregor. Double Deception: Stalin, Hitler, and the Invasion of Russia. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1994.

Surveillant 3.6: Double Deception reviews the "interplay of intelligence, disinformation, and foreign policy ... leading to Germany's surprise that brought the Soviet Union into WWII."

Ben-Zvi, Abraham. "Hindsight and Foresight: A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of Surprise Attack." World Politics 28, no. 3 (Apr. 1976): 381- 395.

Whaley, Bibliography of Counterdeception (2006), finds that the author's "approach offers foresight." However, Ben-Zvi's use of only three case studies (Barbarossa, Pearl Harbor, and Yom Kippur) as the basis for his "conceptual framework" weakens the analysis.

Bisher, Jamie.

1. "Japan's April 1920 Offensive in the Russian Far East." Revolutionary Russia, December 2003.

Author: "Describes Japanese and White intelligence roles in counter-revolutionary offensive and analysis by a former intelligence officer of the American Expeditionary Forces-Siberia."

2. White Terror: Cossack Warlords of the Trans-Siberian. London: Routledge, 2005.

DKR, AFIO WIN 31-05 (15 Aug. 2005), comments that, along with his main theme, the author "also delves into the intelligence and counterintelligence aspects of the Russian Civil War in the Far East. Not only were White, Red and Cossack splinter groups involved; so were the Japanese and U.S. armies and intelligence." Clark comment: Pricey at $125.00.

Blackstock, Paul W. The Secret Road to World War II: Soviet versus Western Intelligence 1921-1939. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1969.

The reviewer for Studies 14.1 (Spring 1970) finds that "[t]his book has grave faults." The author is "is insufficently grounded in intelligence, or insufficiently critical, to make discriminating judgments about his sources." He also "artificially equates the USSR and the democratic West in comparing their governments and their intelligence services."

Constantinides advises caution in approaching this book. However, readers "interested in Soviet penetration, manipulation, deception, and violence against Russian emigré organizations and their allies, particularly the Trust, may still find some merit in [Blackstock's] treatment of aspects of these operations." Rocca and Dziak note that, with regard to the Trust, "significantly different interpretations exist" between the author's account and that of Geoffrey Bailey; these "are unresolvable on the basis of existing evidence."

Brown, Anthony Cave, and Charles B. MacDonald. On a Field of Red: The Communist International and the Coming of World War II. New York: Putnam's, 1981.

Rocca and Dziak: "A grand tour of political action and espionage operations of the Comintern and Soviet intelligence services, and their roles leading to World War II. Despite dust jacket claims to new sources of information, no significant reinterpretations emerge."

Brunovsky, Vladimir K. The Methods of the OGPU. New York: Harper & Row, 1931.

Wilcox: "Author was arrested by the Soviet OGPU in 1923 on espionage [charges], released in 1926."

Bury, Jan. "Polish Codebreaking during the Russo-Polish War of 1919-1920." Cryptologia 28, no. 3 (Jul. 2004): 193-203.

The author "discusses the early Polish signals intelligence and codebreaking efforts of the 1919-1920 war and emphasizes their role in Poland's victory during the crucial battle of Warsaw in August 1920."

Conquest, Robert.

1. The Great Terror: Stalin's Purges of the Thirties. New York and London: Macmillan, 1968. Rev. ed. Middlesex, UK: Pelican Books, 1971. [pb] 2d ed. New York: Macmillan, 1973.

Pforzheimer says that Conquest's is an "invaluable" study that provides "well-documented coverage of the role played by the Soviet intelligence and security services."

2. Inside Stain's Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39. London: Macmillan, 1985.

Haslam, I&NS 2.2, comments that "[a]t times [Conquest] stretches the evidence further than it can sustain, particularly in relying on Orlov and Krivitsky," former NKVD and GRU officers respectively.

Degras, Jane. The Communist International: Selected Documents, 1919-1929. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press, 1960.

Draitser, Emil.

1. "Hunting for Interwar European Diplomacy Secrets: Tradecraft of Dmitry Bystrolyotov." Journal of Intelligence History 6, no. 2 (Winter 2006-2007). []

From abstract: This article concentrates on "a member of the 'Flying squad,' a mobile group of Soviet undercover operatives in interwar Europe," in connection with "one of [Bystrolyotov's] most successful operation[s] -- his recruitment of a retired Swiss Army officer and adventurist[,] Rossi de Ry."

2. Stalin's Romeo Spy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2010.

For Ehrman, Studies, 54.4 (Dec. 2010), this biography of the great Soviet spy Dmitri Bystrolyotov "is interesting, even fascinating in places, but of uncertain reliability." Although flawed, "it is captivating and ...worthwhile." The author was born in the USSR, met and interviewed Bystrolyotov as an old man, and "was given access to his papers." Draitser immigrated to the United States in 1974, and earned a PhD from UCLA. He is clearly "a conscientious scholar and researcher. For this book, he seems to have mined the available sources -- including declassified KGB files -- thoroughly." But, as he acknowledges, "the Russian files are incomplete, and he often has to rely on either his interviews with Bystrolyotov or the retired spy's memoirs to tell his story. As an example of historical and intelligence scholarship, therefore, Stalin's Romeo Spy needs to be read with a careful, critical eye."

Essad Bey, Mohammad [pseud. Lev Nussimbaum].. OGPU: The Plot against the World. New York: Viking, 1933.

Frank, Willard C. "Politico-Military Deception at Sea in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39." Intelligence and National Security 5, no. 3 (Jul. 1990): 84-112.

In a contest with the two sides roughly balanced in fighting power, "[s]upply was the key to victory, and most of it had to come by sea." The focus here is on two aspects of deception: "(1) deception and maritime arms traffic and (2) clandestine naval intervention." The author finds that "German deception was the most successful of all, both in the supply effort and in clandestine submarine warfare, the result of favorable conditions, intense care and good luck."

Gerson, Lennard D. The Secret Police in Lenin's Russia. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1976.

Rocca and Dziak: This book "deals with the origins, evolution, and operational characteristics of Soviet state security in its first half decade. A solid piece of research and exposition."

Getty, J. Arch, and Oleg V. Naumov. Yezhov: The Rise of Stalin's "Iron Fist." New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

For Peake, Studies 52.4 (Dec. 2008) and Intelligencer 17.1 (Winter-Spring 2009), the focus of this work is on "how Yezhov attained and then lost power under Stalin." The authors "barely mention" Yezhov's administration of Stalin's Great Terror. What is covered is well-documented "from Soviet archival sources," but the work leaves "half the story untold." Similarly, Rendle, I&NS 24.6 (Dec. 2009), finds that this "book is excellent on the structures of power within the party." However, the authors "say relatively little about Yezhov's period as head of the NKVD and his downfall.... The omission leaves the book unbalanced."

Legvold, FA 87.6 (Nov.-Dec. 2008), notes that the authors are an American historian and a Russian historian. They offer the "truly chilling proposition" that the NKVD head from 1936 to 1938 "believed what he said and believed in what he did." See also, Joseph Goulden's review in the Washington Times, 24 Aug. 2008. For another take on Yezhov, see Marc Jansen and Nikita PetrovStalin's Loyal Executioner:  People's Commissar Nikolai Ezhov 1895-1940 (Stanford, CA:  Hoover Institution Press, 2002). 

Hopkirk, Peter. Setting the East Ablaze: Lenin's Dream of an Empire in Asia. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 1984.

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