Monday, May 05, 2008

Pg. 99: Kristie Macrakis' "Seduced by Secrets"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Seduced by Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World by Kristie Macrakis.

About the book, from the publisher:
More fascinating than fiction, Seduced by Secrets takes the reader inside the real world of one of the most effective and feared spy agencies in history. The book reveals, for the first time, the secret technical methods and sources of the Stasi (East German Ministry for State Security) as it stole secrets from abroad and developed gadgets at home, employing universal, highly guarded techniques often used by other spy and security agencies. Seduced by Secrets draws on secret files from the Stasi archives, including CIA-acquired material, interviews and friendships, court documents, and unusual visits to spy sites, including "breaking into" a prison, to demonstrate that the Stasi overestimated the power of secrets to solve problems and created an insular spy culture more intent on securing its power than protecting national security. It recreates the Stasi's secret world of technology through biographies of agents, defectors, and officers and by visualizing James Bond–like techniques and gadgets. In this highly original book, Kristie Macrakis adds a new dimension to our understanding of the East German Ministry for State Security by bringing the topic into the realm of espionage history and exiting the political domain.
Among the early acclaim for Seduced by Secrets:
“Thoroughly researched, Seduced by Secrets gives us an important, unmatched, insider account of East German intelligence. Kristie Macrakis writes with a scholar’s eye and novelist’s skills, revealing secrets and spy tradecraft never meant for public disclosure.”
--Pete Earley, best-selling author of Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War

“This book on the vaunted GDR secret service provides a fascinating inside view of the Stasi’s spying efforts as well as technologies. Written in an accessible style, it is nonetheless based on exhaustive research in the Stasi files and many oral interviews. The first part paints vivid pictures of some of the major spy cases of the Cold War. The second part, which will gladden the heart of any espionage aficionado, discusses spy technology from invisible ink to smell samples. The result is a remarkable and readable synthesis of the East German spying operations.”
--Konrad Jarausch, Lurcy Professor of European Civilization, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Easily the most detailed, painstaking research yet undertaken on the Stasi’s techniques and secrets. Certainly the most absorbing analysis of an organization hitherto steeped in mystery.”
--Nigel West, Director of Counterintelligence Studies, The Center for Counterintelligence and Security Studies, Washington DC

"Seduced by Secrets makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of how the Stasi did what it did..."
--Daniel Johnson, Commentary
Read an excerpt from the book, and visit the Seduced by Secrets website and Kristie Macrakis' faculty webpage.

Macrakis is a history professor at Michigan State University and a visiting professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.

The Page 99 Test: Seduced by Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue