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Betrayal in Berlin: George Blake, the Berlin Tunnel and the Greatest Conspiracy of the Cold War

Steve Vogel

7 Reviews

Rated 0

The Cold War

'A fascinating account of Blake's career as a spy ... Blake's story has been told before, as has the tunnel's, but Steve Vogel pulls them together accessibly and comprehensibly, along with the wider political context and entertaining detail about personalities of the period' Spectator

'A spy thriller that kept me up all night. Magnificent story-telling' Peter Snow

A true Cold War espionage thriller set around the ultra-secret Berlin Tunnel - where British officer George Blake must run a high-stakes double cross to maintain his cover.

The ultra-secret "Berlin Tunnel" was dug in the mid-1950s from the American sector in southwest Berlin and ran nearly a quarter-mile into the Soviet sector, allowing the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) to tap into critical KGB and Soviet military underground telecommunication lines.

George Blake, a trusted officer working in a highly sensitive job with SIS, was privy to every aspect of the plan. Over the course of eleven months from May 1955 to April 1956, when the Soviets discovered the tunnel, "Operation Gold" provided seemingly invaluable intelligence about Soviet capabilities and intentions. The tunnel was celebrated as an astonishing CIA coup upon its disclosure, and the agency basked in its new reputation as a bold and capable intelligence agency that had, for once, outwitted the KGB. But in 1961, a Polish defector shocked the CIA and SIS by revealing that Blake was a double agent who had disclosed plans for the tunnel to the KGB before it was even built. Blake was arrested and sentenced in 1961 to 42 years in prison, the longest term ever imposed under modern English law. In the years since, the tunnel has been labelled a failure, based on the assumption that the Soviets would never have allowed any information of importance to be transmitted through the tapped lines. Not so.

In a work of remarkable investigative reporting, Steve Vogel now reveals that the information picked up by the CIA and SIS was more valuable than even they believed. But why would the Soviets, knowing full well that the tunnel existed, have let slip many of their most valuable secrets? Or did they actually know?

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Praise for Betrayal in Berlin: George Blake, the Berlin Tunnel and the Greatest Conspiracy of the Cold War

  • One of the most dramatic spy stories of the Cold War, superbly told by a real authority on the subject...With a cast of characters that could have come straight out of a John le Carre novel, this is a "mole versus mole" espionage tale unlike no other. - Author of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Krushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

  • One of the most dramatic spy stories of the Cold War, superbly told by a real authority on the subject - One Minute to Midnight

  • A spy thriller that kept me up all night. Magnificent story-telling, always clear, every episode meticulously researched. It's also a fascinating commentary on the height of the Cold War with Eisenhower, Kennedy and Khrushchev intimately involved in the skulduggery in Berlin.

  • A crackling Cold War espionage story, Betrayal in Berlin takes you to the peaks of spying ambition and the depths of betrayal - The Billion Dollar Spy

  • Through fresh interviews with principal participants and extensive archival research, Steve Vogel has made the story of the Berlin Tunnel new again. I was riveted to the narrative from start to finish - A Brotherhood of Spies

  • Swiftly moving, richly detailed...As well placed as a le Carre novel, with deep insight into the tangled world of Cold War espionage. - Kirkus Reviews

  • Steve Vogel is a talented and gifted writer who brings the personalities and idiosyncrasies of every participant in this operation to life...truly one of those rare books you can't put down - Circle of Treason

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Steve Vogel

Steve Vogel was born in Berlin, where his father, a CIA case officer, served from 1957 to 1962, during some of the tensest days of the Cold War. As a reporter for the Washington Post for two decades, he wrote frequently about military affairs and the treatment of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His reporting about the war in Afghanistan was part of a package of Washington Post stories selected as a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. He covered the war in Iraq and the first Gulf War, as well as U.S. military operations in Rwanda, Somalia, and the Balkans, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

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