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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Wolf was a believer in the system that he dedicated most of his life to serving and he was not ashamed to admit it. Like a lot of people from that time, Wolf still thought that Socialism as a philosophy and way of life was far superior to the alternative economic neo-conservatism which seems to be ruling the world since the collapse of what passed as Socialism (state...
Published on 29 Jan 2012 by redbigbill

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pulling back the iron curtain
What in intersting account of Herr Wolf's life this is. I would not say it is engagingly written, but this may have much to do with the translation from the German. But, as a book written from a unique position of knowledge and power, it provides a very valuable insight into the workings, philosophy and turf wars of the security services in the fromer Germand Democratic...
Published on 3 Dec 2004 by Andrew Smith


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 29 Jan 2012
By 
redbigbill (bristol, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Without A Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster (Paperback)
Wolf was a believer in the system that he dedicated most of his life to serving and he was not ashamed to admit it. Like a lot of people from that time, Wolf still thought that Socialism as a philosophy and way of life was far superior to the alternative economic neo-conservatism which seems to be ruling the world since the collapse of what passed as Socialism (state capitalism?) after the Berlin Wall came down.
Some of the less savory aspects are skated over but any autobiography of this type has to be read with a certain amount of reading between the lines and a little salt. Wolf comes across as a gentleman in what was often a gangster's business and I must admit to having a lot of respect for him especially as he refuses to play the blame game. I will not go into details of the story because other reviewers have already done so but this is an excellent read that does show the old GDR in a very different light to that painted by Western propagandists.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read on Gdr Espionage service., 23 Oct 2010
By 
M. Telford "Irish Writer" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Without A Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book, even though some details are sketchy and I feel the Author avoids certain issues.

He's very quick to distance himself from the more distasteful aspects of the 'Stasi' policy and the awful treatment they subjected their own people to, such as torture and emotional blackmail. Is he being honest? Who knows?
Herr Wolf is though a man of high intelligence and this shines through the book time and time again.

We also get from him an idea that life in the Gdr wasn't as grim and dour as it was often portrayed by the West. There are many references to the 'sleepy pace of life' that existed in the Gdr.
A man of principle, he resolutely refused to computerise his files and classified information regarding his spies and contacts. He admits to being distrustful of computers.

The Gdr slowly died due mainly to bankruptcy and it's an awful shame to read how absolute fortunes were spent by all sides during the Cold War to maintain spy rings and constantly strive to get one over on each other.
Wolf had a very successful career and was one of the chief men in the 'Stasi', who answered only and directly to Mielke. ( whom he clearly despised)

All in all, its a good read and a historical reminder of what a fruitless farce the whole Cold War debacle was from beginning to end.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The true story of "Karla", 1 Oct 2006
By 
Siriam (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Without A Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster (Paperback)
Many of the reviews on this book seem driven by "How could he?" and "The dreadful Stasi" which having read this book, seems to me to miss the key points and the value of this book.

Yes, the book is inevitably light on some personal failings but given the heavy volume of many Western Intelligence chiefs self serving tomes along the lines of "I fought on the side of right", this one does read much better as a warts and all history. Given his limited access to old records (for reasons well stated in the story), his overall coverage of what he did (both good and bad) is not unstinting and the subsequent collpase of the Western German legal case against him shows how misplaced many of those perspectives are.

What is very clear is Wolf is a unique product of his time. As a result of his parents left wing political leanings he was forced as a teenager into pre-WW II exile in Stalinist Moscow, which gave him great understanding in dealing with the Russians post 1945. As a committed socialist he does see the faults in Eastern Germany and accepts his personal responsibility for much of what happened but is also clear on what he did not do or could not eaily influence e.g. the harbouring of terrorists and the wide domestic repression the Stasi was hated for. Finally as a Jew in post war Germany under the control of Mielke, the East German equivalent of Beria, one is left amazed at what successes he did achieve in foreign espionage with very limited resources.

The book is not the mea culpa that many feel it should be, but it does provide focus in a way many Western Intelligence books do not as to what was the real value of all they achieved and how intelligence is used plus a very honest analysis of why the Stasi for all their reputation was only ever successful against Western Germany and NATO (in expoliting that German connection). One is in fact left feeling at the end that the real failing was the Western intelligence organisations (esp. Western Germany) inability to understand how weak Eastern Germany was economically and that different policies could have worked in bringing about its early downfall.

One side point is that nowhere in the book is the best known reason for Wolf being infamous stated - as the basis for the Karla character in John Le Carre's Smiley novels!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pulling back the iron curtain, 3 Dec 2004
By 
Andrew Smith (Liphook, Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Without A Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster (Paperback)
What in intersting account of Herr Wolf's life this is. I would not say it is engagingly written, but this may have much to do with the translation from the German. But, as a book written from a unique position of knowledge and power, it provides a very valuable insight into the workings, philosophy and turf wars of the security services in the fromer Germand Democratic Republic.
It covers the more newsworthy incidents surrounding escapers trying to get out of the East across the Berlin Wall when it was first erected, and also is reavealing not just about the recruitment and maintnenance of agents in the West but also about the relationships that the Stasi had with Western intelligence agencies and the swaps it did with them.
A good point of historical reference from an unexpected source.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ggod account from inside the GDR secret services, 17 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Man Without A Face: The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster (Paperback)
Despite all reserves for being a subjective account - after all, any autoboigraphy is a subjective point of view - the author tries no to be more unbiased as such a post could a man be. As a first-hand account of how soviet bloc secret services were run, it is a valuable text to complement any serious historical research work (such as those by Christopher Andrew).
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