Soviet Spies

Rudolf Ivanovich Abel

Rudolf Ivanovich Abel (1903-1971) was born William Fisher to Russian emigré parents in England. He was taken to the Soviet Union by his father in 1921. From about 1950, he served as a Soviet "illegal" in New York. Arrested in 1957, he was convicted of espionage and imprisoned until exchanged for U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers in 1962.

Arthey, Vin. Like Father Like Son: A Dynasty of Spies. London: St. Ermin's Press, 2004. The Kremlin's Geordie Spy: The Man They Swapped for Gary Power. New York: Dialogue, 2011.

Peake, Studies 49.3 (2005), says this book "makes it clear" that KGB Col. Rudolf Abel really was "Willi[e] Fisher, born in Newcastle, England, in 1903." The author "adds considerable detail to Fisher's stay in the United States." With regard to the second, retitled edition, Peake, Studies 55.2 (Jun 2011) and Intelligencer 19.1 (Winter-Spring 2012), finds "there are no major changes" but "some new material on Fisher's trial, [and] the negotiation that led to his return to the Soviet Union." This "is the only biography of Willie Fisher in English that includes details of his KGB career.... [It] is a welcome contribution to the intelligence literature."

Berkinow, Louise. Abel. New York: Trident, 1970. New York: Ballantine, 1982.

De Gramont, Sanche. "Rudolf Abel." In Cry Spy, ed. Burke Williamson. Scarsdale, NY: Bradbury, 1969. [Petersen]

Donovan, James B. Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel. New York: Atheneum, 1964. London: Secker & Warburg, 1964. New York: Popular Library, 1964. [pb]

Friedman, Richard. "A Stone for Willy Fisher." Studies in Intelligence 30, no. 4 (Winter 1986): 19-30. Studies in Intelligence: 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Fall 2000): 137-148. Reprinted as Anonymous, Intelligencer 12, no. 1 (Summer 2001): 20-27.

Gibney, Frank. "Intimate Portrait of a Russian Master Spy." Life, 11 Nov. 1957, 122-130.

Kahn, David. "Number One From Moscow." Studies in Intelligence 5, no. 5 (Fall 1961): A15-A28.

Kahn discusses the cryptographic system used to encipher a message to Col. Rudolf Abel's assistant, Reino Hayhanen. The author refers to it as "the finest and most advanced mnemonic cipher ever made public."

Kahn, Jeffrey. "The Case of Colonel Abel." Journal of National Security Law & Policy 5, no. 1 (2011): 263-301. []

The author uses the Abel case to make points relevant to the habeas cases of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay.

Whittell, Giles. Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War. New York: Broadway Books, 2010.

Legvold, FA 90.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2011), calls the author "a master storyteller." He ties together the stories of Rudolf Abel, Francis Gary Powers, and Frederic Pryor and the exchange that took place between the United States and the Soviet Union at Checkpoint Charlie in 1962.

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