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Red Web: MI6 and the KGB Master Coup [Paperback]

Tom Bower
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

13 May 1993
This is an account of how the KGB first compromised, then controlled, the MI6 intelligence network in the Baltic States. Between 1944 and 1955 MI6 thought it had established a major spy network inside the Soviet Union, but the book offers evidence of how the KGB had in fact organized a massive sting operation; of how, for more than a decade, British agents were dropped by boat on the Soviet coast, and many of them lost their lives; and of how, once the betrayal was revealed, MI6 officers abandoned their agents in Russia, hoping that the bungle could be explained away by Kim Philby's treachery. The book's evidence is based on newly-declassified information from Washington, Bonn and Stockholm, access to KGB files and officers, and more than 200 interviews. The author's other books include "Maxwell: the Outsider".

Product details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Mandarin; New edition edition (13 May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749314788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749314781
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Bower has a distinguished reputation as an investigative historian, broadcaster and journalist and is the author of several ground-breaking books about tycoons. His most recent works are 'Branson' and 'Gordon Brown: Prime Minister'. His books about the Nazis include 'Blood Money' and the definitive biography of Klaus Barbie. Among his other much-debated biographies are those of Mohammed Fayed, Richard Branson and Robert Maxwell.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright, nothing more 2 April 2009
By Ross
This is a history of the failed operations conducted by Western Intelligence agencies, Britain's SIS in particular, to infiltrate agents into the USSR in the immediate post war era.

The books starts off with the background of SIS's involvement in anti-Bolshevik activities from 1919 onwards, this was particularly interesting, arguably moreso than the main subject.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result then it has to be said that the SIS (aka MI-6) were insane. Over a period spanning more than a decade from the mid 1940s to the mid 1950s dozens of emigre agents from the Baltic states were dropped into the Baltic states with a brief to aid the anti Soviet resistance. In reality the whole operation was comprimised from the beginning so pretty much all the agents were arrested immediately and imprisoned. whilst false information was fed to Britain.

Although the book only covers the Baltic operation, this same process also happened elsewhere in communist occupied Europe as well as in North Korea and China during the same era, all with equally disastrous results.

The key lesson to be learnt is that the secrecy of the intelligence services can also shield them from outside expertise that can point out obvious errors and mistakes.

Red Web can be kind of repetitive, because of the grim inevitablity of the fate that awaits each Estonia, Latvian or Lithuanian agent persuaded to spy for their country.

This was written in the late 1980s, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of declassified KGB documents so some of the information about the Soviet side of the operation might be thin compared to more recent accounts of communist Europe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great for Baltic specialists 12 Mar 2012
By John - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is very hard to find detailed books about espionage in the Baltics in English.

In fact, this is the only one I have found.

The author did a lot of research, including conducting interviews with many people involved on different sides in WWII and the Cold War.

I highly recommend this book for people interested in the subject matter.

John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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