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The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors
by Herbert Romerstein, Eric Breindel

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.85 x 9.32 x 6.41
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc.; 1 edition (November 2000)
  • ISBN: 0895262754
  • In-Print Editions: Paperback | All Editions
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars Based on 9 reviews. Write a review.
  • Sales Rank: 60,461

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Editorial Reviews
Some historians and journalists are starting to regard the cold-war-era American Communist Party as nothing more than a quaint club of polite if misguided ideologues. In The Venona Secrets, Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel intend to create a new impression of treacherous Americans "who willfully gave their primary allegiance to a foreign power, the USSR.... For Communists, true patriotism meant helping to make the world a better place by advancing the interests of the Soviet Union in any way possible." By using the now-celebrated Venona documents--top-secret Soviet cables sent between Moscow and Washington, D.C., in the 1940s--Romerstein and Breindel tell a frightening story of how deeply spies penetrated the U.S. government. There was the famous case of Alger Hiss, whose guilt as a Soviet spy is now beyond doubt thanks to Venona. Less well known, but still important, were the roles of Harry Hopkins in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's White House and Harry Dexter White in the Treasury Department.

Romerstein, a veteran cold warrior, and Breindel, the former editorial-page editor of The New York Post (he died before the book's publication, at the age of 42), are not the first to discuss the Venona papers in depth--readers of The Haunted Wood, by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, and Whittaker Chambers, by Sam Tanenhaus, will know much of the story. Yet this may its most aggressive telling. Romerstein and Breindel include necessary chapters on the Hiss-Chambers dispute, the Elizabeth Bentley spy ring, and the charges against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They are particularly forceful in arguing that journalist I.F. Stone and atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer were Soviet spies. Another target--and a provocative one--is Albert Einstein, whom they describe as "tainted" by his indirect ties to Soviet intelligence. The Venona Secrets will make heads turn, and it will show that the debates over the cold war and its meaning can be as hot now as they were then. --John J. Miller

From the Inside Flap
Here is one of the last great, untold stories of World War II and the Cold War.

In 1995 the Venona documents—secret Soviet cable traffic from the 1940s that the United States intercepted and eventually decrypted—finally became available to American historians.

Now, after spending more than five years researching all the available evidence, espionage experts Herbert Romerstein and Eric Breindel reveal the full, shocking story of the days when Soviet spies ran their fingers through... read more

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Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars An amazing unappreciated episode, December 5, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Ridgewood, NJ
One of the issues that probably most people are not aware of is that the Venona decrypts only decoded about 1/3 of 1% of the Soviet cable traffic during the WW2 time period. From that tiny fraction of decoded or partially decoded messages, about 300 code-names for Soviet agents/spies/traitors of various types were figured out. But of the 300 only about half were eventually identified with actual names. There may have been some agents with duplicate names, but even so, the number is staggeringly large. Most people who are even aware of all this probably think the number was very small. One wonders how many more names of spies might have been unmasked if more than three out of each thousand messages had been decoded.

These spies not only stole/gave away the atomic bomb, but they also made or influenced key policy decisions that favored Soviet Communist expansion. Today, we are still living with the nightmares created by the decisions made by those spies.

I wish that, although the decryption, based on one-time pads, and itself betrayed, AND enormously expensive and difficult would have continued. There are more pressing priorities today; nevertheless newer super computers, parallel processors, and other techniques might be able to help us embarrass some of the people who betrayed the people of United States, Europe and Asia.

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14 of 44 people found the following review helpful:

1 out of 5 stars Self-vindication, November 10, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Snyder, NY USA
This book uses evidence provided by US govenment intelligence agencies to prove that US government intelligence agencies were justified in investigating and prosecuting critics of policies made by US government intelligence agencies. For books which make similar arguments but are more convincing by virtue of their use of other sources of info, try the work of Allen Weinstein, Ron Radosh, or Ellen Schrecker.

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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars Venona Secrets Uncovered, May 13, 2001
Reviewer: gallopade from Chicago, IL United States
This book is extremely informative and descriptive in detailing the Soviet's ability to influence our government from the 1920's through the 1950's in matters both political and military. It's amazing to discover how deeply the Soviets had penetrated our government. And the degree to which the Soviets were able to gain access to various levels within different government agencies. It is no wonder how the Soviets obtained secrets to the atom bomb and other highly sensitive military information.

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23 of 37 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars McCarthy was right, but Truman did them more damage!, January 26, 2001
Reviewer: ls-anderson from Alexandria, VA United States
It was fascinating to learn the real story of the Cold War. While Joe McCarthy was right about the number of Communists in the U.S. Government, Harry Truman did more damage to the Communist cause.

Learn the true origin of the "RATS" of the "DemocRATS" controversy of the last Presidential election, and speculate on what kind of people would think it was offensive. Learn the true origin of "polictical correctness" and speculate on what kind of people would apply it today.

All in all, Herb's book is a great read, and its implications are far reaching.

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