- WASHINGTON (RFE/RL) - A just-published book on Stalin's espionage in the
United States, entitled "The Haunted Wood," details the extensive
network of influential and effective agents Moscow once had in the American
- Some defenders of those identified in
this book as Soviet agents have charged that Russian intelligence operatives
fabricated the files, eager to inflate the number of Americans they had
under their control. But the evidence from American intercepts of Soviet
messages assembled in this book suggests that Moscow had good reasons
- The authors are Allen Weinstein, an American
historian who heads The Center for Democracy, an independent Washington
organization promoting democratic change throughout the world, and Alexander
Vassiliev, a former KGB agent and now a Russian journalist living in Western
- The linkup of two writers across the
old division lines is no longer news; indeed, in this area at least, it
is becoming the norm. But their joint efforts did lead to a book which
made the news pages of daily papers in the U.S. Reviewers have called
the book as readable as a spy thriller, complete with plotted and actual
assassinations, as well as with a good number of extramarital love affairs
linking spy handlers and couriers and agents.
- At the same time, one scholar who summed
up the book in The New York Times Book Review suggested that World War
II histories written without the material uncovered and digested by Weinstein
and Vassiliev may now be compared to "books with missing pages."
- It is chilling to think that throughout
World War II the Soviet government was kept well-informed about U.S. intelligence
activities by agents inside the Office of Strategic Services or OSS, the
forerunner of the postwar Central Intelligence Agency. The lead agent's
name was Duncan Lee, an American patrician who joined the Communist Party
while a student at Yale and then served as personal assistant to William
Donovan, head of OSS. Lee fell in love with his courier, another American
radical activist, to whom he supplied huge amounts of information.
- Two more American spies appear worthy
of a Hollywood spy movie. One was Martha Dodd, the beautiful daughter of
the U.S. ambassador to Germany in the 1930s. She slept with Nazis to obtain
information for the Russians, and she was a devoted follower of Stalin's
while hobnobbing socially with President and Mrs. Roosevelt.
- The other American was the tall, energetic
Elizabeth Bentley, also from a prominent family, who became the lover of
her handler, Jacob Golos, a brilliant Russian Jew who coordinated an underground
communist network involving dozens of agents.
- After Golos died under suspicious circumstances,
Bentley lost faith in communism and eventually defected to the FBI in November
1945. Bentley's turnaround put an end to much of the network built during
World War II. Moscow ordered her assassination but it was never carried
out. She subsequently became a popular author and lecturer.
- Published by Random House, "The
Haunted Wood," seeks to prove that the list of Americans which in
the past were described as "suspected Soviet agents" did indeed
work for what a generation of Americans politely called "the other
side." Additional evidence of their complicity may still emerge from
the treasure trove of cold-war documents now being declassified in Washington
by the CIA and the National Security Agency.