Spymaster by Tennent H. Bagley


From the dark days of World War II through the Cold War, Sergey A. Kondrashev was a major player in Russia’s notorious KGB espionage apparatus. Rising through its ranks through hard work and keen understanding of how the spy and political games are played, he “handled” American and British defectors, recruited Western operatives as double agents, served as a ranking officer at the East Berlin and Vienna KGB bureaus, and tackled special assi...

Details Spymaster

Release DateNov 6th, 2013
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Spy Thriller, Espionage, Biography, Cultural, Russia

Reviews Spymaster

  • Michael Flanagan
    I opened this book with much excitement as I was returning to one of my favourite periods of history the Cold War. The book cover promised startling revelations and I looked forward to gaining this new knowledge. What I got was far from startling it was what you would have expected both the USA and USSR to have been doing in the war of espionage. While the stories told in this book where interesting I found myself getting lost in all the names an...
  • Chris
    A good book, but a little overwhelming for someone who isn't in the business. I think it would be more enjoyable if you knew all the people and events being described.
  • Mary Licking
    Terrific account of a Soviet spy's 50 years of working against the West. Contains a great forensic dentistry revelation. The tales show the strengths and weaknesses of the Soviet's KGB organization, a big and effective outfit. The effectiveness part is amazing because the members of the organization were well acquainted of the comforts available in the West, but still took great risks to complete their tasks, knowing that none of those comforts w...
  • Hapkap
    Very interesting book that everybody should read. Life is a game.
  • J.A.
    fascinating look inside soviet Russian intelligence apparatus.
  • Sarah
    So, non-fiction isn't exactly completely in my book blog's wheelhouse, but sometimes I get on a non-fiction kick, and this is what comes off of the bookshelf. I picked this one up when I was at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. recently, although I'd also seen it around on the internet when googling for "books about spies during the Cold War", as a person such as myself may be likely to do.That said, this book is a fascinating look...
  • Josh
    This book was not what you might be thinking. If you're looking at a behind the scenes book about spycraft, this isn't it. The author goes into almost no detail about anything. Rather, it reads more like a long essay, throwing out names and events that I personally had little to no prior knowledge about for the most part.This feels like a book written for insiders, people who might already be intimately familiar with the machinations between the ...
  • Lee
    This is an OK book written by a former CIA agent about the life of a high ranking KGB agent. Originally written while the KGB agent was alive, it’s publishing was delayed until after he died due to objections by the current Russian Government. It details a lot of the Soviets operations against the West and also details some of the most famous turncoats, George Blake, Oleg Penovsky etc and some of the major moments beyond the Iron Curtain, the 1...
  • Chris Aylott
    This is inside baseball for spies, and I found myself getting lost in the parade of Russian names and long-ago operations. It's interesting to see a Soviet spy's view of the Cold War, though. I'm not sure how much the CIA and the KGB accomplished, especially since they spent so much of their time chasing each others' tails, but if they didn't take over the world it certainly wasn't through lack of trying.
  • Brian
    A very interesting but very dry book. I did find the subject matter to be fascinating, but also found my attention drifting quite a bit. It was a bit hard to keep track of who was who and how they all connected to one another. Bronson Pinchot does a very good job reading, but I think this may be one of those books that is just better in print than on audio.
  • Julie
    Give this one a pass. I expected thrilling details about cold war era spies. Instead this reads like a roster of names in Russian. Even tales that should be exciting or interesting are told devoid of emotion. If you were hoping for exciting tales of near discovery or information about then state of the art spy tools, forget it. One third through I'm giving up. There are too many books worthy of my time and attention out there.
  • Brad Lucht
    3 1/2 stars.Bagley picks out the highlights of a biography he helped write with one of the Soviet Union's top spy chiefs.Nothing of great importance jumped out at me, but clearly the information meant a great deal to Bagley, a former CIA operative.Recommended only for those with a deep knowledge of counterespionage.
  • Mark Dhas
    It was certainly interesting but I found myself going back and forth so often to remember who was who that I found it tedious. In addtition all the information provided is annecdotal, which I suppose is in keeping with an autobiography but it would be nice if other evidence was included. I find myself wondering if there really was a A. Kondrashev.
  • Ben Sutton
    An insightful portrait of Cold War intelligence operations and practicesFrankly the book is most significant due to its insider's perspective of the political and bureaucratic practices of Soviet intelligence agencies. As that sort of stuff fascinates me, I found the book both interesting and informative.
  • Bruce Thomas
    Insider's tales of USSR spy episodes and security decisions. Juicy stuff not revealed, but the perspective from the other side is compelling. The book focuses on senior KGB Soviet spymaster Sergey Kondrashev, who told his story to Mr. Bagley, a CIA counterintelligence chief. Since both author and subject were rivals in the cold war, their knowledge of events is in-depth and true.
  • Vikas Datta
    Superlative account of intelligence operations during the Cold War and the twists and turns, the betrayals and the deceptions, double and triple. Also provides invaluable accounts of the Soviet reactions in the 1956 Hungarian revolution and the 1968 Prague Spring, as well as the eventual fate of one of Nazi Germany's notorious figures who went missing after the war... A most thrilling read
  • Roger Charles
    This book is for a select few. If you want to read about instances of the cold war, select topics on spycraft or how the Soviets managed people you might enjoy this book. I found the book to be too minute without more information chapter in and chapter out. There were strong boundaries within which the book was written so don't expect a good fast tale.
  • Gary Gray
    If you don't have an interest in cold was era stuff it will be very boring, as it is it is written very dryly and is almost like a list of dates, times and places. Not written as a story of a mans life. A few tidbits are to be found but not worth reading the book for.
  • John
    A very disappointing book - more hype and promise than delivered history. While Sergey Kondrashev was an interesting player and prime mover in the duplicitous East-West spy games of the Cold War, there are few "revelations" in this book. Give it a pass.
  • Jared
    The book was interesting if not particularly revolutionary. One of my favorite details was the use of Nazis post-WWII against the Soviet Union's former western allies.
  • Caroline
    A fascinating insight into the KGB, but the way it jumps around a lot is confusing.
  • stuart b
    300 pages of, "Remember this...well, yeah, that was me." Mildly interesting cold war history, but otherwise forgettable.
  • WTL
  • Scarlet
    great stuff
  • SR
    Interesting, although Bagley's organization of the book was not intuitive and the writing was sometimes sloppy. Extensive bibliography that I'm excited to dig through.