Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Five top nonfiction titles about espionage

Charles Stross has won two Hugo Awards and been nominated twelve times. He has also won the Locus Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Novella, and has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke and Nebula Awards. His latest book is Empire Games. One of the author's five recommended nonfiction books about espionage, as shared at Tor.com:
Memoirs of a Spymaster by Markus Wolf

The second-oldest profession has been accompanied by a peculiar sub-genre of confessional autobiography since its inception, in which a former adversary bares all to explain to the public how their enemies see them. Sometimes these books are written by defectors, milking their experience for sensationalist and alarming content to earn a living in their new home. But this isn’t one of those books. In the wake of the revolutions of 1989, when the Berlin Wall was smashed, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) underwent a traumatic reunification with West Germany. Many of the former Communist state’s politicians and civil servants were disgraced or even prosecuted: they became involuntary exiles in the west, and some of them chose to tell their tale.

Markus “Mischa” Wolf was head of the foreign intelligence division of East Germany’s Ministry for State Security, the Stasi, from 1953 to 1986. His fiefdom was a smaller, more agile agency than the lumbering behemoths of Soviet intelligence, the KGB and GRU: and his successes as a spymaster were legendary. In the 1960s and 1970s, he riddled the top echelons of West German industry and government with spies, even managing to insert an agent as private secretary to the West German Chancellor, Willy Brandt. Working with much more limited resources than the Soviet foreign intel apparatus, Wolf’s organization achieved something of a reputation as an elite espionage agency. And to this day, whenever I ask historians of Cold War espionage what the Stasi were doing on US soil, the answer I get is “we’re sure they were up to something, but we don’t actually know …”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue