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Only in 1995 did the United States government officially reveal the existence of the super-secret Venona Project. For nearly fifty years American intelligence agents had been decoding thousands of Soviet messages, uncovering an enormous range of espionage activities carried out against the United States during World War II by its own allies. So sensitive was the project in its early years that even President Truman was not informed of its existence. This extraordinary book is the first to examine the Venona messages-documents of unparalleled importance for our understanding of the history and politics of the Stalin era and the early Cold War years. Hidden away in a former girls' school in the late 1940s, Venona Project cryptanalysts, linguists, and mathematicians attempted to decode more than twenty-five thousand intercepted Soviet intelligence telegrams. When they cracked the unbreakable Soviet code, a breakthrough leading eventually to the decryption of nearly three thousand of the messages, analysts uncovered information of powerful significance: the first indication of Julius Rosenberg's espionage efforts; references to the espionage activities of Alger Hiss; startling proof of Soviet infiltration of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb; evidence that spies had reached the highest levels of the U.S. State and Treasury Departments; indications that more than three hundred Americans had assisted in the Soviet theft of American industrial, scientific, military, and diplomatic secrets; and confirmation that the Communist party of the United States was consciously and willingly involved in Soviet espionage against America. Drawing not only on the Venona papers but also on newly opened Russian and U. S. archives, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr provide in this book the clearest, most rigorously documented analysis ever written on Soviet espionage and the Americans who abetted it in the early Cold War years.
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About the Author

John Earl Haynes is 20th Century Political Historian, Manuscript Division, the Library of Congress. Harvey Klehr is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History at Emory University.

Reviews

Those who were convinced that the Soviets were spying on us during the 1930s and 1940s were right. Haynes and Klehr have provided the most extensive evidence to date that the KGB had operatives at all levels of American society and government. Where Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassilievs The Haunted Wood (LJ 11/15/98) provided a peek at Soviet spying, Haynes and Klehr throw open the door, revealing a level of espionage in this country that only the most paranoid had dreamed of. Building on the research for their earlier books, The Secret World of American Communism (LJ 6/1/95) and The Soviet World of American Communism (Yale Univ., 1998), Haynes and Klehr describe the astonishing dimensions of spying reflected in the cable traffic between the United States and Moscow. Venona is the name of the sophisticated National Security Agency project that in 1946 finally broke the Soviet code. This is better than anything John le Carr could produce, because in this case, truth is really stranger than fiction. Highly recommended.Edward Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

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