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I found this book fascinating and was struck by the fact that Stalin refused to believe the information his spies provided him. The author’s tell the story of Richard Sorge (1895-1944) who was a soviet military intelligence officer. Prange et al go into detail about his most famous activity. He was in Japan in 1940-1941 working undercover as a German journalist. He was spying on both the Japanese and Nazi Germans. His code name was “Ramsay”.
The authors state that Sorge provided Stalin with the information that the Germans were planning to attack Russia. Stalin did nothing because he did not believe his own spy. In 1941 Sorge found out that Japan was not going to attack Russia. Stalin was then able to transfer 18 divisions, 1700 tanks and 1500 aircraft from Siberia to the Western Front to use against the Nazis. This was a turning point for the Russians.
The author covers his life but mostly covers his time in Japan in the 1930s and 40’s. Prange et al show how he managed to infiltrate himself into two of the most paranoid regimes of the time, Japan and Germany. Sorge was arrested about 18 October 1941 for espionage. The Japanese at first thought he was an Abwehr spy, but after torture he revealed he worked for the Soviets. He was incarcerated in Sugamo Prison in Tokyo then on the 7 November 1944 he was executed. In 1964 the Soviet’s awarded him the “Hero of the Soviet Union Medal”.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. It is easy to read and kept my attention throughout the book. If you are interested in World War II history or in espionage this is the book for you. David Rapkin did a good job narrating the book.
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I wanted to learn this history not how to write cliches. The author was obviously confused between writing a bad novel or a bad history book. Guess what, two bads make a really bad book!