Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Sword and the Shield [A Summaview]

The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGBThe Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin

Christopher Andrew is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Cambridge University. One of the leading authorities on intelligence history, Andrew is also the official historian of Britain’s Secret Service (MI-5). Vasili Mitrokhin served as an archivist in Russia’s KGB, and having become disillusioned with the Soviet worldview during Krushchev’s rule, began copying sensitive and highly classified documents from the KGB archive. He defected in 1992, and over 25,000 documents were retrieved from the contained them, buried beneath the floor of his dacha.
The Sword and the Shield follows the history of the KGB from Lenin’s Cheka, to Stalin’s OGPU through the establishment of Yeltsin’s presidency. Andrew documents the operations and impact of several hundred spies who operated during that time frame.

The sheer volume of the material is overwhelming. As a result, reading is somewhat tedious with only a few paragraphs dedicated to each operative. Andrew is a historian and has contributed greatly to our understanding of Soviet Intelligence operations. I found myself skimming many sections and reading those which were of special interest, such as operations directed against the United States and those surrounding the Prague Spring in 1968. That would be my recommendation for the amateur historian.

That said, I did enjoy the book. Secret Service, spies, intelligence, counter-intelligence and related stories fascinate me. Andrew focuses on people and what they did. I would have enjoyed a greater discussion of trade craft and operations than he offered. In any case, his work added to my understanding of a secret and until now, hidden world.

Contents and concepts

  1. The Mitrokhin Archive
  2. From Lenin’s Cheka to Stalin’s OGPU
  3. The Great Illegals
  4. The Magnificent Five
  5. Terror
  6. War
  7. The Grand Alliance
  8. Victory
  9. From War to Cold War
  10. The Main Adversary - Part 1: North American Illegals in the 1950’s
  11. The Main Adversary - Part 2: Walk-ins and Legal Residencies in the Early Cold War
  12. The Main Adversary - Part 3: Illegals after “Abel”
  13. The Main Adversary - Part 4: Walk-ins and Legal Residencies int he Later Cold War
  14. Political Warfare: Active Measures and the Main Adversary
  15. PROGRESS Operations - Part 1: Crushing the Prague Spring
  16. PROGRESS Operations - Part 2: Spying on the soviet Bloc
  17. The KGB and Western Communist Parties
  18. Eurocommunism
  19. Ideological Subversion - Part 1: The War Against the dissidents
  20. Ideological Subversion - Part 2: The Victory of the dissidents
  21. SIGINT in the cold War
  22. Special Tasks - Part 1: From Marshal Tito to Rudolf Nureyev
  23. Special Tasks - Part 2: The Andropov Era and Beyond
  24. Cold War Operations Against Britain- Part 1: After the “Magnificent Five”
  25. Cold War Operations Against Britain- Part 2: After Operation FOOT
  26. The Federal Republic of Germany
  27. France and Italy during the Cold War: Agent Penetration and Active Measures
  28. The Penetration and Persecution of the Soviet Churches
  29. The Polish Pope and the Rise of Solidarity
  30. The Polish Crisis and the crumbling of the Soviet Bloc
  31. Conclusion: From the One-Party State to the Yeltsin Presidency
 Andrew, C. M., & Mitrokhin, V. (1999). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (1st ed.). New York: Basic Books.


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LearningByReading said...

A friend tried to make it through this voluminous work and gave up about 1/4 of the way. Thanks for the review.

Neal Cordle said...

Learning... glad you found it helpful.