The Man Behind the Rosenbergs Again

man-behindI recently decided to reread this book by retired KGB agent Alexander Feklisov with Sergei Kostin hoping to better understand why Americans were willing to spy for the Soviet Union during World War II. Communism and “the worker’s paradise” of the USSR was a lure during the crushing poverty created by the Great Depression. There was also the belief by some that Communism was the only viable protection from Fascism, although the mutual defense pact signed by Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union confused some of those people. Many of the people recruited by the Soviets were American Jews who were children of Russian immigrants. They were convinced that the United States should share any useful technology with the Soviet Union as an ally in the war against Hitler. Feklisov saw those people as “anti-Fascist activists” who were heroes and not spies.  Feklisov managed large networks of American spies, and his book provides insight into their motivations.

Feklisov mentions that many U.S. politicians weren’t friendly to the Soviet Union. Harry Truman as a Senator expressed the point of view about the conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union, that “…if Germany is winning we must help Russia; if Russia was winning, the help should go to Germany.” The first prize for bluntness would go to the New York Daily News, which published a cartoon depicting the USSR and Germany as two snakes fighting each other. The caption read, ‘Let’s let them eat each other’.” Feklisov portrays FDR as being a moderate whose attitude toward the USSR, which was “…bearing the brunt of the war efforts, was favorable.”  Continue reading

America in the Cold War: A Reference Guide

america-in-cold-warThis book by William T. Walker is exactly as advertised in the title. It has a very useful chronology of events in the front. The main body is contains “Clift Notes” versions of important events and has much to recommend it as a reference book. The Preface leads, “On Christmas night, December 25, 1991. George H.W. Bush addressed the American people to report the Soviet Union had ceased to exist and a new Commonwealth of Independent States and several new countries, including Russia, had been recognized immediately by the United States. On January 28, 1992, in his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress, Bush proclaimed the United States had won the Cold War.” The reality was that the remnants of the Cold War lingered in China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam. Historians began the debates about whether the Soviet Union collapsed because of internal corruptions and inefficiencies, whether American wealth and power had defeated them, or whether the Soviet Union was “…an artificial state that succumbed to the nationalist identities and ambitions of its own people.” The answer is undoubtedly a combination of all of those plus some other reasons. Regardless of the reason, it was a remarkable event.

A section titled “The Beginning: Allies Become Antagonists” is a good example of how the book presents complicated history briefly and precisely. It begins with the Americans providing Lend Lease to the Soviets as they reeled under the Nazi invasion. The alliance the World War II alliance with the Soviets began to fray before the Potsdam Conference. The Americans decided they had to step in to stop Communist advances in the later 1940s with the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan and the Soviets responded by blockading Berlin. All of that in less than two pages.

The Soviet government had been given full diplomatic recognition on November 17, 1933 under the FDR administration. The Soviets promised in return that they would “…abstain from conducting propaganda within the United States.” The Great Depression moved FDR further left, and several “…Americans were attracted to the Soviet experiment, entered the federal government, and provided secret information on American policies and interests to the Soviet Union.” By the end of World War II the Soviets had focused on establishing hegemony in Eastern Europe. Some historians blame the beginning of the Cold War on the use of the atomic bomb in Japan. Stalin decided the bombings were done to intimidate the Soviet Union. He pushed his scientists to build an atomic bomb to counter the American monopoly. Continue reading

The National Security: Its Theory and Practice, 1945-1960

national securityI was able to get this book on an interlibrary loan, but the book wasn’t available on Amazon. The United States Military Academy at West Point held a symposium April 21-23, 1982 with the above title. It has some crucial information about why the decision was made to build a site for construction of more nuclear weapons, which is the subject of my quest to write a book about the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. The book comprises seven essays presented at the symposium with an introduction and conclusion prepared by the editor. The “…burgeoning fears of the U.S.S.R…determined character and magnitude of American security policy.” “What began as a cautious and contested move toward nuclear power in the Truman years evolved under Eisenhower into a massive nuclear arsenal of almost incomprehensible proportions.”

The introduction by Norman A Gaebner discusses how Americans generally viewed the Soviet Union after World War II as “…a valiant ally.” However, diplomats who dealt with the Soviets predicted trouble despite FDR’s assurances that he and Stalin “got along fine.” Events following the war proved the Soviets intended to use the land power it had gained and American politicians took note. Arthur Vandenberg, Republican leader in the Senate wrote in his diary, “FDR’s appeasement of Russia is over.” James Forrestal advocated a showdown with the Soviets in the spring of 1945 rather than later. The United States was in a position of power with its atomic monopoly and two thirds of the world’s capital wealth. The Soviet Union had lost more than 2000 towns and cities, 20 million deaths, and much of its resources. Despite the magnitude of its losses, the U.S.S.R. was becoming increasingly threatening. National Security Council (NSC) documents declared, “The ultimate objective of Soviet-directed world communism is the domination of the world.” Secretary of State Dean Acheson “…developed the promising concept of negotiation from strength.” Consistent with that policy, Truman decided to proceed with the development of the hydrogen bomb.

Richard D Challener wrote that Truman would not have approved a 300 percent increase in the defense budget called for in NSC 68 if the Korean War hadn’t begun. The concept of nuclear deterrence became a key to defense strategy, but the U.S. had only nine atomic bombs in 1946. There were over fifty by the end of 1948. David Rosenberg wrote that Truman viewed the atomic bomb as a weapon of terror and a weapon of first resort. Despite that, he ordered vast increases in production facilities. On July 14, 1949 Truman told his top advisors, “Since we can’t obtain international control we must be the strongest in atomic weapons.” He approved a substantial increase in nuclear production in the fall of 1949 and an additional increase after the outbreak of the Korean War. Those approvals led, in part, to the construction of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant in Colorado. Continue reading

Bridge of Spies

bridge-of-spiesThis is a wonderful book that describes what is portrayed in the current movie with the same title starring Tom Hanks . I thought Mark Raylance’s portrayal of Soviet spy Rudolph Abel stole the spotlight from Hanks, who was admirable in portraying James Donovan. Donovan was the lawyer who defended Abel and later was the intermediary who arranged the swap of U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers for Abel and Frederic Pryor, a hapless young intellectual who was snared in Cold War politics.

An interesting aspect of the book is how Powers was treated after he had taken the risk of flying over the Soviet Union to take photographs of secret military facilities. John F. Kennedy as a candidate for Presidency of the United States had successfully used the “missile gap” as a campaign issue against Richard Nixon. The planned Powers flight would have delivered the evidence that the Soviets in fact only had four ICBMs. Powers and his U-2 were shot down instead of presenting the evidence that would have disputed Kennedy’s campaign rhetoric. Kennedy “…promised as a candidate to close a ‘missile gap’ that did not exist and declined to meet Powers on his return to the United States.”

A fascinating bit of theory for dedicated “Conspiracy Theorists” is that the Power’s mission was intended to fail. Eisenhower and Khrushchev had intended to launch a new era of détente until Powers and his U-2 was shot out of the skies. The Paris summit was wrecked and “…threw into high gear the arms race that took the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and did not end until the collapse of the Soviet empire nearly three decades later. From the moment Powers was reported missing, there were well-places skeptics on both sides of the cold war who suspected that his entire mission had been planned to fail, and in doing so to prevent the outbreak of superpower peace. It is a theory that lingers to this day.”

The real name of the spy who is the central character in the drama was William Fisher, and he had been born in Britain. There is no doubt he was a brilliant man, since he could speak five languages and was a math genius. “Fisher’s main task was to rebuild the Soviet spy network in America. Perhaps the most interesting part of the Fisher story is that he was completely ineffective as a spy. “There is no evidence that Fisher recruited any useful agents who have not been identified or transmitted any significant intelligence by those who have been. This did not stop both sides colluding in the creation of the legend of Willie Fisher—by another name—as the most effective Soviet spy of the cold war.”  The “Fisher myth” was perpetuated by Soviet officials because he became famous for his loyalty and refusal to betray the USSR to gain personal benefits. Continue reading

FREE Kindle eBook: “An Insider’s View of Rocky Flats”

book_cvr3D_sm_pngMany of you have either read the original online version (which is no longer available) or downloaded the pre-publication PDF version of An Insider’s View of Rocky Flats: Urban Myths Debunked. And special thanks to a sizable number of you who have purchased the Paperback version of the book from Amazon.

My original purpose in writing An Insider’s View… was to provide an accurate biographical account of the Rocky Flats story to as broad an audience as possible.

Consistent with that objective, I’m now offering the Kindle version of the An Insider’s View FREE for 3 days beginning March 6, 2015. I encourage you to take advantage of this FREE ebook offer even if you purchased the paperback or downloaded the pre-publication PDF book from the RockyFlatsFacts.com website. That’s because – unlike the paperback and PDF which are text-only documents – the Kindle ebook contains the added bonus of over 2 dozen full-color (unclassified) photos that I think you’ll find memorable including one of burning plutonium (in a glovebox!) and two photos of plutonium ingots.

Don’t be put off if you don’t already own a Kindle reader: you don’t need one. You can download an entirely FREE Kindle ebook reader app to your PC, Mac, or mobile device by clicking here. (Clicking link will take you to Kindle reader app installer webpage.) Trust me, it is easy and it works just fine.

I do have a couple of requests to go along with this free Kindle ebook offer. First, I know that I’ve only a small fraction of email addresses for people interested in Rocky Flats news and information. Please forward this message to anyone you think might want to get the FREE An Insider’s View Kindle ebook with its cool photos. And if you enjoy the Kindle ebook version of An Insider’s View, please consider writing a short review of the ebook at Amazon.com.

Yes, A Second FREE Kindle eBook…

FIM_3D_Cover_341pxMy second request is that you take a look at my two more recent fiction books. I published these as collaborative efforts with my grandchildren who served as “Creative Staff and Illustrators.” The first book in the series is Angry Pigs Organized Against Gerbils: The Farmer Island War, and the more recent sequel is Farmer Island Magic.

To entice you further, I’m offering the Kindle ebook version of Farmer Island Magic FREE for the 3-day period beginning March 6, 2015. Of course, I’m hoping that you will eventually consider purchasing one or both of these books in paperback.

And once again, if you read one of my Farmer Island books and enjoy it, please consider writing a short review on Amazon.com and/or refer the book(s) to a friend, relative, or colleague.

Farmer Island Magic

FIM_3D_Cover_341pxFrequent visitors to this web site know that the books reviewed tend to be non-fiction. I’m making an exception this week because I’ve published Farmer Island Magic, the sequel to my 2012 book, Angry Pigs Organized Against Gerbils: The Farmer Island War. Both of those books were crafted based on character and plot suggestions offered by my four grandchildren who are credited as the “Creative Staff and Illustrators.”

Farmer Island Magic begins where Angry Pigs… left off and the truce that ended The Farmer Island War has held without incident. The farm animals, including the intelligent pigs, and their allies, are living peacefully with the gerbils that had been the enemies in the war. There are as yet no humans on the farm, so the animals must work together to plant, tend, and harvest the food for their survival. All appears well, but pigeon scouts and rat spies remain ever vigilant for dangers to the farm. The serenity of life on the farm is broken when a pigeon scout brings troubling news that humans are approaching. He reports that four humans are traveling toward the farm in a covered wagon and that one of them — a young woman — is probably the daughter of the original settlers that first cleared the farm from what was then wilderness. She is traveling with a husband and two children.

The arriving family is surprised to find a prosperous farm with well-tended crops yet no evidence of humans. They also notice many other mysteries, such as the farm pigs appearing intensely alert and watchful when the young farm wife is nearby. Nevertheless, the human family begins to settle into the farm and enjoy the frontier. The animals notice the human adults seem a bit careless with the children, perhaps not realizing there are real dangers on the frontier.

However, everything changes when the children are pursued by a viscous wolf pack and the farm pigs intervene to rescue the children. The humans begin to understand there is something remarkable about the farms pigs that seem to be able to understand what the young farm wife is saying. The family continues to uncover many mystical things about Farmer Island. The farm wife is led to a magic book and a letter from her mother that explains she has inherited powers from an ancient ancestor.

There are more mysteries and excitement ahead. The farm family is threatened by a band of marauders, but they are saved first by the bravery of the pig herd that defends them and then warriors from the Native American village who have been alerted by animals that the family is in danger.

This will be one of the shortest reviews posted on this web site, but I tell you that there are many other adventures and magical events to be enjoyed in Farmer Island Magic. I hope you are intrigued enough to buy the Farmer Island Magic Kindle ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $9.95 (or even less). We also hope those of you who decide to enjoy the book or ebook will consider posting a favorable review at the Farmer Island Magic webpage at Amazon.com.