Oleg Gordievsky

Power Lines

Near and Distant Neighbours: A New History of Soviet Intelligence

By Jonathan Haslam

Oxford University Press 366pp £20 order from our bookshop

I should advise readers at the outset that this important monograph gets off to a bad start. A list of Russian intelligence jargon contains at least half a dozen disconcerting mistakes of one sort or another. The text was obviously completed in too much of a hurry, with little regard for consistency. An additional problem is that Jonathan Haslam seems to treat all the sources he uses as equally reliable, including books written by ‘former’ KGB operatives, sometimes with Western coauthors who lack the essential language skills. This is particularly relevant because, despite the blurb, Haslam has disappointingly little to say about the massive Soviet and post-1991 disinformation operations that are currently becoming almost as aggressive and dangerous as they were during the Cold War.

Sara Stewart


Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Interesting thread by Aki there on inclusivity in publishing. (Read her tweets for full thread.),
    • RT : A conference about inclusivity in publishing is a fantastic idea, but doesn't £200 seem a short-sighted undermining of, well, inclusivity?,
    • Calling all friends of bulbous salutations & the elfin grot: lots of entries to have already come in, but my door’s still open...,
    • 'Why the hell don’t they have more fun with their money?' Patrick Leigh Fermor skewers the super-rich ,
    • When Lenin went interrailing: Catherine Merridale charts his journey in her new book ,
    • Deadline today to win a pair of tickets to The Entertainer starring Kenneth Branagh. To enter, email marketing[at] .,