Enemy amongst Trojans

Title:                      Enemy amongst Trojans

Author:                  Mike Gruntman

Gruntman, Mike (2010). Enemy amongst Trojans: A Soviet Spy at USC. Los Angeles: Figueroa Press

LCCN:    2010932657

E743.5 .U78 2010


Date Posted:      September 26, 2016

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden[2]

Shortly after the defection on 5 September 1954 of Igor Gouzenko, a GRU code clerk at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Samuel Witczak, an instructor at the University of Southern California, disappeared from a beach in Southern California, never to be seen again. Later his wife disappeared as well. In a 1952 Senate report, he was identified as a Soviet spy; his name had surfaced in the VENONA decrypts. The FBI search for Witczak is described in the memoirs of FBI special agent Robert Lamphere.[3] The FBI had learned Witczak had entered the United States from Canada on a false passport and suspected Witczak was not his true name. Later the FBI was able to trace some of Witczak’s former agents, but never learned what happened to him. Enemy Amongst Trojans tells the rest of the story.

Recent document releases in Britain and Russia, one showing Kim Philby reported on him, identify Witczak as “Iosif Litvin” and explain what happened to him after returning to the Soviet Union. Litvin’s GRU career ended during a purge of Jews, but he survived that, later becoming a translator of American books on intelligence.

Mike Gruntman, an astronautics professor at USC, has written an interesting and succinct account of this case that heretofore escaped the attention of other espionage academics. A nice contribution to the literature.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Goulden, Joseph C. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, p. 132). Joseph C. Goulden’s 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, was published in a Chinese-language edition in 2014 by Beijing Xiron Books. He is author of 18 nonfiction books. Goulden is a long-time reviewer of espionage and spy books for The Washington Times, for AFIO’s Intelligencer, for law journals, and other publications. Some of the reviews appeared in prior editons of The Washington Times or The Washington Lawyer (DC Bar Association) and are reprinted by permission of the author. Goulden’s most recent book [as of 2016] is Goulden, Joseph C. (2012). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

[3] See Lamphere, Robert J. (1986, 1995). The FBI-KGB War. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. This reference is not provided in Goulden’s review.

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