Book Review: The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman

If you’ve been on my blog for awhile you will know I have been reading a lot about Presidents.  My goal is to read a biography about every President.  So far, I’m little over halfway through. 

I needed to change it up a bit.  Behind biographies I love to read about the Cold War, so I took a break from reading about the presidents and read “The Billion Dollar Spy”.  I had been wanting to read this book for awhile. It’s that book that has been sitting on my bookshelf each time I pick up a president biography and I see each time, thinking I need to read that.

It’s about one of the CIA’s deepest spies in the USSR during the Cold War, Tolkachev.  He was a man that knew what Russia was like, before the Bolsheviks took over, from the stories of his father.  His motives were to do as much damage to the Communists as possible.  Tolkachev worked in a weapons research facility, that dealt mostly with radars and targeting systems. 

He was so motivated that at times the CIA had to try to get him to slow down how many documents he was copying.  When the CIA asked how much his intel was worth the military estimated well over a billion dollars (this was in the early 1980s).  He saved the US millions on doing R&D that they didn’t need to do.  The US was able to get the USSR’s plans for military development well into the 1990’s. 

Although, Russia and the US didn’t go to war, the secrets of the radars used in the MIGs (Russian fighter jets) showed major benefits in the first Gulf War.  Iraq had a large air force of MIGs that used one of the radar systems that Travechv gave schematics and intel reports on to the CIA.

The book was well written, and it’s a fast read because you want to find out what happens next.  The author does a great job of moving the events along, and also giving good background on individuals as they came into the story.
If you like Cold War history, or spy books this is a must read.

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