The New York Times bestselling author of Dark Invasion and The Last Goodnight once again illuminates the lives of little-known individuals who played a significant role in America’s history as he chronicles the incredible true story of a critical, recently declassified counterintelligence mission and two remarkable agents whose story has been called "the greatest secret of the Cold War."
In 1946, genius linguist and codebreaker Meredith Gardner discovered that the KGB was running an extensive network of strategically placed spies inside the United States, whose goal was to infiltrate American intelligence and steal the nation’s military and atomic secrets. Over the course of the next decade, he and young FBI supervisor Bob Lamphere worked together on Venona, a top-secret mission to uncover the Soviet agents and protect the Holy Grail of Cold War espionage—the atomic bomb.
Opposites in nearly every way, Lamphere and Gardner relentlessly followed a trail of clues that helped them identify and take down these Soviet agents one by one, including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. But at the center of this spy ring, seemingly beyond the American agents’ grasp, was the mysterious master spy who pulled the strings of the KGB’s extensive campaign, dubbed Operation Enormoz by Russian Intelligence headquarters. Lamphere and Gardner began to suspect that a mole buried deep in the American intelligence community was feeding Moscow Center information on Venona. They raced to unmask the traitor and prevent the Soviets from fulfilling Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s threat: "We shall bury you!"
A breathtaking chapter of American history and a page-turning mystery that plays out against the tense, life-and-death gamesmanship of the Cold War, this twisting thriller begins at the end of World War II and leads all the way to the execution of the Rosenbergs—a result that haunted both Gardner and Lamphere to the end of their lives.
In this gripping exploration of Cold War spycraft, Blum (The Last Goodnight) lays out the complex chain of circumstances that led to the exposure of a major Soviet spy ring responsible for stealing America's atomic secrets during and after WWII, and culminated with the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. As Blum follows the exploits of FBI agent Bob Lamphere and genius code breaker Meredith Gardner, he lays out the difficulties they faced in patiently unraveling the espionage network, one suspect at a time. To follow the trail to its source, they decrypted each stage of the code, compared it to a treasure trove of uncoded Soviet cables, and had to "re-create the KGB codebook" in order to match code names to actual people ("Kalibre" was Ethel Rosenberg's brother, David Greenglass). Through extensive research and interviews, Blum brings a widespread cast of significant participants to life, from Lamphere and Gardner (from their awkward first meeting: "Meredith once again appeared to give the question considerable thought. But whether that was really the case... Bob could only guess. He found the man across from him inscrutable") and their Soviet counterparts to the Rosenbergs and their many colleagues. Concise yet packed with details, this is a true page-turner, sure to appeal to those interested in the history of espionage or the Cold War. Photos.