The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB by Milt Bearden, James Risen - review by Oleg Gordievsky

Oleg Gordievsky

Who Has Really Won?

The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB


Century 560pp £20 order from our bookshop

THE ONLY MISTAKE CIA veteran Milt Bearden makes in this book is in the title, 'the main enemy' being of course the KGB. It would have been better to say 'the main adversary', which is how the KGB, with whom the expression originated, referred to the USA and the CIA. Anyone who has read books or watched documentaries on international espionage should recognise the name of the chief author, who somehow or other obtained the permission of the American authorities to relate in great detad many of the CIA's activities during the last seven years of the USSR's existence.

In the 1980s and early 1990s Bearden was, in turn, Deputy Chief of the Soviet and East European (SE) Division, Station Chief in Pakistan and, finally, Chief of the SE Division. He is one of the handfid of individuals who played a crucial role in enabling the West to win the Cold War, sharing the honours with two other CIA titans, Burton Gerber and Paul Redmond, who have also now retired. It was not easy for them to live and work together in one and the same Division.

Bearden had the reputation of being an aggressive, trigger-happy martinet, an officer who had been

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

East of the Wardrobe

Follow Literary Review on Twitter