The Billion Dollar Spy
A true story of Cold War espionage and betrayal
By David E Hoffman
Published by Icon Books
Distributed by Allen & Unwin
RRP $29.99 in paperback ISBN 9781785781971
AUTHOR INTERVIEW AUDIO
NPR interview with author David E Hoffman can be accessed at this link
This book has been widely reviewed – and acclaimed – since its publication. It tells the story of Adolf Tolkachev who became one of the West’s most valuable spies. At enormous risk Tolkachev and his handlers conducted clandestine meetings across Moscow in the period 1977-1985, using spy cameras, props, and private codes to elude the KGB in its own backyard until a shocking betrayal led to his exposure and eventual execution.
As author David Hoffman reveals in a recent interview, the case had been secret for many years despite bits and pieces of information emerging. It was only the CIA’s decision to declassify more than 900 pages of the operational cables about how the operation was carried out that allowed the story to be told.
The lesson of the Tolkachev case, says Hoffman, is that ‘you can focus all you want on high-tech satellites, you can tap into people’s email, but in the end, despite all the changes in technology, having a great human source is absolutely invaluable’.
This is a riveting true story from the final years of the Cold War – a story that lets us see into the world of spycraft and espionage as it operated in the Cold War era. This is not a world for the faint hearted.
About the author: David E. Hoffman is a contributing editor at The Washington Post and a correspondent for PBS’ flagship investigative series, Frontline. He is the author of The Dead Hand (Icon, 2011), about the end of the Cold War arms race, and winner of a Pulitzer Prize.