The Year of the Spy

Title:                      The Year of the Spy

Author:                 Michael K Bohn

Bohn, Michael K. (2017). The Year of the Spy: The Untold Story of Cold War Espionage, Betrayal, and Death in 1985 Amherst, NY: Prometheus

OCLC:                    957021568


Date Posted:      April 18, 2017

Reviewed in The Intelligencer[1]

In 1985, nearly every month, the news media revealed yet another spy who had been arrested, imprisoned, or executed. This fascinating book chronicles both the headline-makers that year—John Walker, Ronald Felton, and Larry Chin, for example—and those unknown to the public at the time, including Oleg Gordievsky, Aldrich Ames, and Adolf Tolkachev. The author, a former director of the White House Situation Room under President Ronald Reagan and a retired career naval intelligence officer, draws on nearly sixty cases that had a crucial development in “the year of the spy.”

We get a month-by-month flow of the year with glimpses into lives fraught with danger and often ending in tragedy in the midst of the Cold War.

In ironic juxtaposition to the story of the deadly spy war waged between American and Soviet intelligence services, the author details President Reagan’s behind-the-scenes dialogue with successive Soviet premiers in an attempt to eliminate nuclear weapons. These peacemaking efforts eventually led to the end of the Cold War in 1991. The narrative interweaves both the diplomatic and espionage stories, while introducing the major spies the news media didn’t know about in 1985.

[1] Reviewed in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 3, Winter 2016-17, pp. 133-134).

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