Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev - review by Tim Tzouliadis

Tim Tzouliadis

Reds Under the Beds

Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America


Yale University Press 650pp £25

Revisionist history is often a bitter pill to swallow, especially when the consensus has permeated the very language of the debate. In the early 1950s, one crucial issue divided American public opinion, and continued to do so for decades. The question centred on the nature of Soviet communism, and the internal threat posed by American agents working for the KGB in the United States. Was the ‘Konspiratsia’ real, or were the accusers simply political fantasists seeking ‘Reds under the beds’? The answer lies within the pages of John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr’s remarkable book. 

In the early 1990s, their co-author Alexander Vassiliev was given rare access to the KGB archives, where he worked for two years transcribing handwritten notes into coloured volumes. Using this material, corroborated by existing documentary evidence, the authors have pieced together a landscape of political subterfuge and treachery

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