The Secret Road to World War II

Title:                      The Secret Road to World War II

Author:                  Paul W.Blackstock

Blackstock, Paul W. (1969). The Secret Road to World War II: Soviet Versus Western Intelligence 1921-1939. Chicago: Quadrangle Books

LCCN:    69020154

UB251.R8 B55


Date Updated:  February 1, 2017

The book was reviewed and heavily criticized for errors by Natalie Grant in The Russian Review (Vol. 29, No. 1, January 1970) pp. 96-97. I would not recommend it.

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

Of Blackstock’ s published products, this was subjected to the greatest criticism, on a number of grounds. One is that the author’s title and approach to the subject imply that it was the battles between the secret services that led to war. This is not an unfair comment; Blackstock also does not prove that the battles themselves were not reflections of the policies of the sponsoring governments or that they were undertaken or engaged in without the governments’ knowledge or consent. Another criticism is that the book contains a number of errors and is insufficiently critical of the sources it uses. Blackstock shows that he is not unaware of the problem of the reliability of sources when he mentions, for instance, the entrenchment of the story of the Trust in historical myth and legend and the impossibility of “stripping some layers to the core of reality.” He also acknowledges that all sources on the Trust (the account of which covers almost a third of the book) “must be used with caution.” In his catch-all final chapter, there is a cautionary lead-in that speaks of the tentative value of judgments drawn from incomplete data. The reader is wise to keep these caveats by the author in mind, along with the reservations of the critics. Those interested in Soviet penetration, manipulation, deception, and violence against Russian émigré organizations and their allies, particularly the Trust, may still find some merit in his treatment of aspects of these operations that are not well known. Those aspects should become known.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[2]

A detailed historical survey of competing Western and Soviet covert operations for the period, based on primary source materials, interviews with survivors, and some previously untapped archives. Part 1 deals with the Trust, a counterrevolutionary organization controlled by Soviet security agencies and used to penetrate Western emigre groups and to disseminate false information to Western intelligence channels. Part 2 deals with the covert operations of Western-controlled emigre organizations in the USSR, a series of penetrations which lent substance to the 1927 war scare. Part 3 concerns Soviet-directed operations against Western targets, including the kidnappings of Generals Kutyepov and Miller in Paris. Part 4 deals with the Tukhachevsky affair which led to the purge of Russian generals on the eve of World War II.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 85-86

[2] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., pp. 193-194


This entry was posted in World War II and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Secret Road to World War II

  1. Pingback: Soviet Intelligence and Security Services | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Blackstock Selected Bibliography of Fifty Titles | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s