The Spy Game; East Meets West
By Edward Lucas
Walker & Company, $26.00, 372 pages
Edward Lucas points out in his book that the spy game has been around since the Roman empire, and continues today highlighted by the arrests of ten Russian operatives in 2010 living in New England. Much of the book concentrates on Russia and its satellite countries such as Georgia, Belarus, Chechnya, and other closely aligned allies. “In today’s Russia, citizens have unrestricted access to information, own property, leave and return to the country freely and develop private businesses of all kinds.” This makes it easier for Russian spies to penetrate western democracies such as the United States and Britain. Russia’s ruling party has almost limitless money, and the full armory of state technical and logistical resources, from spy satellites to submarines. Lucas makes the point that Russia has the knack of searching through floods of data to find the most useable bits.
The book concentrates on the period from pre-World War II, when the spy game really took off to present day. After WWII, while Britain was reeling from the ravages of war, the Soviet Union got the upper hand with espionage and penetrating Britain’s secret service. Up until the Berlin Wall fell in October 1989, the Soviet’s closed society gave them a great advantage in the spy game. They could send out their agents around the world yet the west struggled to place agents inside the eastern bloc nations. The author tries to make the case that in today’s Russia, under the leadership of Putin, is as dangerous as ever. In a free and open society secrets tend not to stay secret for long, and with the speed of technological advancement spying may not have the impact that it once had. If you enjoy the espionage genre this will be a good read.
Reviewed by Brian Taylor