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An impeccable spy : Richard Sorge, Stalin's master agent / Owen Matthews.

By: Matthews, Owen.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England ; New York, New York : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019Copyright date: ©2019Description: viii, 435 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm.Content type: text | still image Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 1408857782; 9781408857786; 9781408857793; 1408857790.Other title: Richard Sorge, Stalin's master agent.Subject(s): Sorge, Richard, 1895-1944 | Spies -- Soviet Union -- Biography | Espionage, Soviet -- Japan -- History | World War, 1939-1945 -- Military intelligence -- Japan | World War, 1939-1945 -- Secret service -- Soviet UnionGenre/Form: Biographies.DDC classification: 327.12092 Summary: The thrilling true story of Richard Sorge - the man John le Carre called 'the spy to end spies', and whose actions turned the tide of the Second World War. Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist - and the Soviet Union's most formidable spy. Like many great spies, Sorge was an effortless seducer, combining charm with ruthless manipulation. He did not have to go undercover to find out closely guarded state secrets - his victims willingly shared them. As a foreign correspondent, he infiltrated and influenced the highest echelons of German, Chinese and Japanese society in the years leading up to and including the Second World War. His intelligence regarding Operation Barbarossa and Japanese intentions not to invade Siberia in 1941 proved pivotal to the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, which in turn determined the outcome of the war. Never before has Sorge's story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives - along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge - to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as 'the most formidable spy in history'.-- Back cover.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

'The most formidable spy in history' Ian Fleming

'A superb biography ... More than a hundred books have been written about him and this is undoubtedly the best' Ben Macintyre

Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist o and the Soviet Union's most formidable spy.

Like many great spies, Sorge was an effortless seducer, combining charm with ruthless manipulation. He did not have to go undercover to find out closely guarded state secrets o his victims willingly shared them. As a foreign correspondent, he infiltrated and influenced the highest echelons of German, Chinese and Japanese society in the years leading up to and including the Second World War. His intelligence regarding Operation Barbarossa and Japanese intentions not to invade Siberia in 1941 proved pivotal to the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, which in turn determined the outcome of the war.

Never before has Sorge's story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives o along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge o to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as 'the most formidable spy in history'.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 405-415) and index.

The thrilling true story of Richard Sorge - the man John le Carre called 'the spy to end spies', and whose actions turned the tide of the Second World War. Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist - and the Soviet Union's most formidable spy. Like many great spies, Sorge was an effortless seducer, combining charm with ruthless manipulation. He did not have to go undercover to find out closely guarded state secrets - his victims willingly shared them. As a foreign correspondent, he infiltrated and influenced the highest echelons of German, Chinese and Japanese society in the years leading up to and including the Second World War. His intelligence regarding Operation Barbarossa and Japanese intentions not to invade Siberia in 1941 proved pivotal to the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, which in turn determined the outcome of the war. Never before has Sorge's story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives - along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge - to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as 'the most formidable spy in history'.-- Back cover.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Prologue: 'Siberians!' (p. vii)
  • Introduction (p. 1)
  • 1 'From the Schoolhouse to the Slaughter Block' (p. 9)
  • 2 Among the Revolutionaries (p. 19)
  • 3 'A Fanatic Riff-Raff from a Ruined Century' (p. 33)
  • 4 Shanghai Days (p. 49)
  • 5 The Manchurian Incident (p. 73)
  • 6 Have You Considered Tokyo? (p. 93)
  • 7 The Spy Ring Forms (p. 103)
  • 8 At Home with the Otts (p. 119)
  • 9 Moscow 1935 (p. 139)
  • 10 Hanako and Clausen (p. 151)
  • 11 Bloodbath in Moscow (p. 171)
  • 12 Lyushkov (p. 187)
  • 13 Nomonhan (p. 201)
  • 14 Ribbentrop-Molotov (p. 215)
  • 15 Attack Singapore! (p. 229)
  • 16 The Butcher of Warsaw (p. 247)
  • 17 Barbarossa Takes Shape (p. 263)
  • 18 'They Did Not Believe Us' (p. 277)
  • 19 Plan North or Plan South? (p. 291)
  • 20 Breaking Point (p. 313)
  • 21 'The Greatest Man I Have Ever Met' (p. 337)
  • Notes (p. 353)
  • Select Bibliography (p. 406)
  • Acknowledgements (p. 417)
  • Picture Credits (p. 419)
  • Index (p. 423)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Richard Sorge (1895--1944) lived an extraordinary life at the forefront of the 20th century's great events. Born in present-day Azerbaijan to a German Russian family, Sorge served as a Soviet military intelligence officer before and during World War II, working undercover as a German journalist in Nazi Germany and Japan. Matthews (Stalin's Children) describes Sorge's risk-filled life of affairs, motorcycle races, and careless drinking. The carnage of World War I transformed Sorge's political beliefs and persuaded him to become a devoted Communist. This ultimately fueled his willingness to commit espionage in the service of the Soviet Union. The Soviets used Sorge's German background to have him spy within German expat circles first in China and then in Japan in the 1930s and 1940s. Sorge gained the trust of the German Embassy in Tokyo and got intel on the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Matthews expertly tells the story of one of the world's most decorated spies, who has been recognized posthumously decades after his execution in Tokyo. VERDICT A remarkable work about a complicated and relatively unknown individual. Highly recommended as a valuable contribution to Soviet spy literature and 20th-century history.--Jacob Sherman, John Peace Lib., Univ. of Texas at San Antonio

Publishers Weekly Review

Former war correspondent Matthews (Stalin's Children) examines Soviet spymaster Richard Sorge in this vivid biography. Born in 1895 in Baku, Russia, (now Azerbaijan) to a Russian mother and German father, Sorge fought for the German Imperial Army in WWI. After the war, he joined the German Communist Party and made his way to Moscow, where he was recruited by the Red Army's intelligence agency. He was sent back to Germany to spy on the Nazi Party, and then worked undercover in Shanghai as a foreign newspaper correspondent. Arriving in Tokyo in 1933, he infiltrated Japan's military and political elite, forming a spy ring of communist sympathizers. His insights into Japan were valued by the German ambassador to Tokyo, who made the spy privy to Nazi plans. Sorge gave Moscow early notice that Hitler would betray the 1939 nonaggression pact he signed with the Soviet Union, and sent messages warning that Germany would invade Russia. Stalin dismissed those missives, however, and Sorge, according to Matthews, spiraled into alcoholism and engaged in such risky behavior as sleeping with the German ambassador's wife. Arrested by Japanese police in October 1941, Sorge confessed under torture and was hanged. His intelligence proved crucial in the Soviet victory at the Battle of Moscow, however. This exhaustive, crisply written portrait of "one of the greatest spies who ever lived" will fascinate espionage fans. (Dec.)

CHOICE Review

An award-winning journalist and also author of the accalimed Stalin's Children (2008), Matthews skillfully combines solid research in Japanese, German, and Soviet archives with a novelistic writing style to offer a gripping and at times astonishing biography of Soviet spy Richard Sorge (1895--1944). During the crucial years from 1933 to 1941, Sorge charmed, bullied, and bluffed his way into a trusted position in the German embassy in Tokyo as an expert on Japan. Working with agents who infiltrated the highest levels of the faction-ridden Japanese government, Sorge provided Moscow with unprecedented access to German and Japanese policy secrets. Matthews deserves praise for his clear explanation of the complicated historical and political context in which Sorge worked, but his conclusions seem to contradict his own careful reconstruction of Sorge's rise and fall. Matthews catalogs the spy's numerous personal and professional failings--his countless indiscretions, reckless drunkenness, and careless spy craft--but extols Sorge as one of history's foremost spies. Similarly, Matthews emphasizes the Soviets' mistrust, mistreatment, and ultimate betrayal of Sorge--Stalin not only dismissed but actively scorned the few reports from Tokyo his intelligence chiefs dared show him--yet credits Sorge with turning the tide of war. Sorge and his story are remarkable enough without such embellishments. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. --Padraic C. Kennedy, York College of Pennsylvania

Kirkus Book Review

The life of a master secret agent who, unique among modern spies, infiltrated the highest echelons of both the German and Japanese governments during World War II.Journalist and historian Matthews (Stalin's Children: Three Generations of Love, War, and Survival, 2008) might be suspected of irony with his title, taken from an observation by the traitor Kim Philby, for though John le Carr considered Richard Sorge (1895-1944) "the spy to end spies," he was sometimes dangerously undisciplined. He praised Stalin in a room full of Nazis, got drunk in a Tokyo bar and called Hitler "a fucking criminal," and, while working in the German Embassy in Japan, loudly predicted that Germany would lose World War II. Born in the frontier town of Baku but raised in Germany, he served in the trenches on the Eastern Front, where he was converted to communism. Good with languages and charismatic, he became a spy for the Soviet Union, working in China and then Japan. His reports to his Soviet spymasters were not always believed, though they were accurate and full of dire warning. The spy ring that he put together in Tokyo had access to the highest levels of both Japanese and German intelligence. One key question centered on whether Japan would join with Germany to attack the Soviet Union; Japan concentrated its efforts on controlling Southeast Asia instead, as Sorge predicted, which allowed Stalin to free up thousands of tanks and planes and many divisions of troops to fight against the Germans. Eventually, Sorge slipped up and was imprisoned and executed. Matthews dismisses the long-held conspiracy theory that Sorge and the Soviets knew of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor before it happened. As he writes, although the Soviets benefited greatly from the work of Sorge, whom he calls "brave, brilliant, and relentless," Sorge was in danger of being forgotten in the post-Stalin era until he was "rehabilitated" under Khrushchev and elevated to the "official pantheon of Soviet saints."Fans of Alan Furst and similar authors will find this true-espionage story fascinating. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.