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Tower of Secrets: Inside Story of the Intelligence Coup of the Cold War [Hardcover]

Victor Sheymov
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Nov 1993
Travel to the inner sanctum of the KGB for the dramatic story of a top-level KGB agent's daring escape, with his wife and young child, from the Soviet Union.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 1st Edition edition (Nov 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557507643
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557507648
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,290,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best in the genre ... 16 Jun 2002
By A Customer
I never read a more fascinating book about espionage before - and I read many of them... Do you want to know, how someone in the middle of the ruling elite of a dictatorship can be preparing his fight for revenge in a field, where a little missing dust in some places of your house or unwillingly and unknowingly being photographed with a foreigner can get you in front of a firing squad in the end? This book is more thrilling even than any novel - you will love it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Throughly captivating and insightful! 4 Feb 1999
By Diane Barney ( - Published on
The author is a scientist/engineer with a true literary gift; Sheymov has taken a real-life experience and related it with the excitement of a Blackford Oakes adventure. This is the story of a man who - in the words of Milovan Djilas - "thought his way out of communism", which is made even more amazing given his privledged upbringing and lack of access to anything to which to compare communism. Sheymov risked everything (family, friends, career, life-style, life) in the belief that whatever was out there had to be better for his family. One can only hope that our government is still listening to his astute insight into the workings of the Russian political mind. He predicted that when the communistic system collapsed, Russia would flirt with democracy but then make a sharp reversal and return to Stalinism. The first part of the prediction has come true; hopefully, Sheymov can contribute to our country's foriegn policy to try to prevent the latter.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Thing!!! 19 July 1998
By Patrick ( - Published on
If you enjoy reading spy thrillers than this is the book for you!!! Victor Sheymov gives his readers a detailed, but fascinating account of his life and ultimately his defection from the KGB. As a child growing up during the heart of the Cold War, I was (and still am) intrigued by "The Great Enemy". Having traveled to Russia and some of the surrounding States (while they were still the 'Soviet Union') I have seen first hand the hardships people there face daily, and realize how difficult it must have been for Victor. This book is one of the best I have read. Pick it up and you won't be able to put it down. From Victor's beginnings in the KGB, his surprisingly speedy climb through it's ranks and the culmination with his appointment to one of the most sensetive posts, the reader has a picture, never before seen in such detail, of just how corrupt the KGB really was, and how that ultimately leads to it's downfall. This is just a great book!!!! I Hope Vi! ctor and his family are doing well....
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A passing grade 12 April 2011
By David Toronto - Published on
I was sorry to have to give this important book an average grade. Sheymov was obviously an important defector and an extremely gifted man but he should not become a writer. I have a number of complaints about this book.

First, he writes in the second person ("he" rather than "I"). I found this distracting. It would have been far more effective if he had just told us his story clearly and simply without trying to write the world's greatest novel.

Second, he casts far too much of his story in the form of glib and pal-sy conversation. His characters do not speak naturally. His characters are often unbelievably surprised to learn what a police state the Soviet Union was and what a dastardly bunch the KGB were.

Third, the dialogues between him and his superiors are too casual to be believed. Humphrey Bogart and Dirty Harry may have talked like this but I can't see a KGB officer doing it. I have read many defectors' memoirs and none exaggerated dialogue the way Sheymov does. Such people were extremely cautious in what they said to everyone, especially to anyone in authority.

Fourth, the chronology is confusing. He introduces segments of his early life as the saga unfolds. It was tiring to be constantly re-introduced to the younger Sheymov.

I was disappointed by the ponderous and self-concious style of this book. Had Sheymov avoided these pitfalls, the book would have been half as long and much stronger both as memoir and as literature. Somewhere amid all the forced dialogue lies an important life history worth telling.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Useful Insights 25 Dec 2001
By El Cutachero - Published on
One might ask why twenty plus years on, the experiences of the author might have some significance other than to the historians of intelligence and the students of tradecraft and organization.
The primary reason I first bought this was that it dealt with Soviet SIGINT operations. Of course, one must keep in mind that in return for his exfiltration and a new start in the West, the suthor will not reveal anything that our side does not want him to even though the other side may have known what he revealed, we might not want that known by a third party in the intelligence business.
What is most relevent here and now is that the author was in the KGB, thoroughly understood its mindset, and broke with that mindset. It has been said that the KGB with its world wide tentacles was the only part of the USSR government that truly knew the situation both politically and economically.
Just because the KGB no longer exists in its old form, it formed the base of the Russian intelligence service of today. And most important of all, power has settled in the hands of Putin, who no matter how affable and westernized he may seem, spent all his working life in the KGB and its successor.
Consider that fact with the author' opinion that the Stalinists may come back. I think they will not but that authoritarianism very well might. After all the Russian never lived in a democracy before Communism and have no experience with it. And observe the semi anarchic business and social conditions in Russia. Belarus has already gone back to authoritanism.
Thus, this book remains useful for studying the other side, whether they prove to be friends or foes again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and authoritative 8 April 2000
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on
This book is fun. It provides a look at the career of a KGB officer with a level of detail that makes one thing abundantly clear: the KGB and CIA are more alike than one might think, for the simply reason that they are both bureaucracies. Smoothly presented, enjoyable throughout.
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