Calder Walton, a Harvard historian and Asst. Director of the Belfer Center’s Applied History Project and Intelligence Project has penned a remarkable book on the role of spies in the intelligence spycraft wars between East and West.
Spies: The Epic Intelligence War between East and West is a mind-opening glimpse at what Russia’s Putin is willing to do to shore up his authoritarian regime. It’s not pretty, especially the discovery of Putin’s assassination goals on US soil.
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Overview from the Belfer Center:
Spies is the history of the secret war that Russia and the West have been waging for a century. Espionage, sabotage, and subversion were the Kremlin’s means to equalize the imbalance of resources between the East and West before, during, and after the Cold War. There was nothing “unprecedented” about Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. It was simply business as usual, new means used for old ends.
The Cold War started long before 1945. But the West fought back after World War II, mounting its own shadow war, using disinformation, vast intelligence networks, and new technologies against the Soviet Union. Spies is an inspiring, engrossing story of the best and worst of mankind: bravery and honor, treachery and betrayal. The narrative shifts across continents and decades, from the freezing streets of St. Petersburg in 1917 to the bloody beaches of Normandy; from coups in faraway lands to present-day Moscow where troll farms, synthetic bots, and weaponized cyber-attacks being launched on the woefully unprepared West. It is about the rise and fall of eastern superpowers: Russia’s past and present and the global ascendance of China.
Mining hitherto secret archives in multiple languages, Calder Walton shows that the Cold War started earlier than commonly assumed, that it continued even after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, and that Britain and America’s clandestine struggle with the Soviet government provides key lessons for countering China today. This fresh reading of history, combined with practical takeaways for our current great power struggles, makes Spies a unique and essential addition to the history of the Cold War and the unrolling conflict between the United States and China that will dominate the 21st century.
“Calder Walton’s deeply researched and artfully crafted book offers a masterclass in 20th century and contemporary history. It is rich with trenchant analysis, surprising details, cautionary tales, and unique insight into the ‘hundred years war’ between American and Russian intelligence agencies. Spanning the Bolshevik Revolution to the war in Ukraine, it is essential reading for anyone trying to understanding the complicated trajectory of current events.” — Fiona Hill, deputy assistant to the U.S. president and senior director for European and Russia on the U.S. National Security Council from 2017 to 2019
“Calder Walton’s Spies takes the reader behind the veil of classification to the world of spying and spies’ impact on history.” — Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard University and author of the bestselling Destined For War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?
"Spies grabs you from the opening page and never lets go. One of our foremost historians of the East-West intelligence war takes us deep inside this grand and often spine-chilling struggle, which predated the Cold War and still rages today. Authoritative, sweeping, chock full of fresh and riveting details, this is a gem of a book." — Fredrik Logevall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Embers of War
“Calder Walton has written the definitive compendium of intelligence operations in the Cold War, and their critical, if hidden, influence in shaping events and outcomes.” — Paul Kolbe, former chief of CIA’s Central Eurasian Division