Moscow Memoir

An American Military Attaché in the USSR 1979-1981

by James R. Holbrook



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 1/5/2018

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 392
ISBN : 9781546217596
Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 392
ISBN : 9781546217602
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 392
ISBN : 9781546217589

About the Book

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.

About the Author

James Holbrook began his U.S. military career in the Navy before becoming an Army private and retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He served as an assistant army attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1979-1981. Before his Moscow assignment, Holbrook worked for eighteen years in a wide variety of Army intelligence positions—as an enlisted Russian linguist in West Berlin, commander of an intelligence detachment in South Vietnam, and as an operational and strategic analyst in the Pentagon and Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe. In 1976-1977, he served in East Germany with the U.S. Military Liaison Mission attached to the Commander in Chief, Soviet Group of Forces. Touring East Germany with other officers and non-commissioned officers, he played cat and mouse with East German and Soviet military and intelligence forces. Using recently declassified Army files, he published an account of that assignment in his Potsdam Mission: Memoir of a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer in Communist East Germany. The author holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The American University and a Doctorate from Georgetown University. He taught Russian at the National Security Agency, The American University and the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Holbrook’s military decorations include the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and several service and campaign ribbons. He retired from the Army in 1989 and now lives in Pueblo, Colorado.