This memoir portrays the ups and downs in the life and work of an American military attaché in the Soviet Union from 1979-1981. The Iranian Hostage Crisis, the failed attempt to rescue those hostages, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the American-led boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics all occurred during this period.
The author describes both the stark living conditions in Moscow and, based partly on his reports from Moscow that the Defense Intelligence Agency declassified, takes the reader on information collection trips to various cities in the Soviet Union. That travel was in itself an adventure—once his wife and he were forced to sleep in a provincial train station. The KGB frequently tampered with his auto and personal possessions.
The author’s job was to observe and report military activity that could have an impact on Soviet political-military affairs. After his earlier assignment with the U.S. Military Liaison Mission in East Germany, where military observation was relatively easy, the author became frustrated at the meager opportunities to gather useful military information in the USSR. Consequently, he became more aggressive in his collection efforts. He began traveling more or less incognito about Moscow, making civilian acquaintances and, due to his language and cultural skills, was able to blend into Soviet social gatherings. He began to take risks, some of which paid dividends.
Overconfidence, however, led to an incident in Rovno, Ukraine. There the KGB set up a “swallow” entrapment, after which a Soviet intelligence officer, whom the author had known in East Germany, attempted to recruit him as a spy.
This memoir immerses the reader in an increasingly forgotten Cold War environment that, unfortunately, may once again be on the horizon of U.S.-Russian relations.