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True Believer: Stalin's Last American…
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True Believer: Stalin's Last American Spy

by Kati Marton

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561319,486 (3.6)None
"This astonishing real-life spy thriller, filled with danger, misplaced loyalties, betrayal, treachery, and pure evil, with a plot twist worthy of John le Carre, is relevant today as a tale of fanaticism and the lengths it takes us to. True Believer reveals the life of Noel Field, an American who betrayed his country and crushed his family. Field, once a well-meaning and privileged American, spied for Stalin during the 1930s and '40s. Then a pawn in Stalin's sinister master strategy, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB and forced to testify against his own Communist comrades. How does an Ivy League-educated, US State Department employee, deeply rooted in American culture and history, become a hardcore Stalinist? The 1930s, when Noel Field joined the secret underground of the International Communist Movement, were a time of national collapse: ten million Americans unemployed, rampant racism, retreat from the world just as fascism was gaining ground, and Washington--pre FDR--parched of fresh ideas. Communism promised the righting of social and political wrongs and many in Field's generation were seduced by its siren song. Few, however, went as far as Noel Field in betraying their own country. With a reporter's eye for detail, and a historian's grasp of the cataclysmic events of the twentieth century, Kati Marton captures Field's riveting quest for a life of meaning that went horribly wrong. True Believer is supported by unprecedented access to Field family correspondence, Soviet Secret Police records, and reporting on key players from Alger Hiss, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and World War II spy master, 'Wild Bill' Donovan--to the most sinister of all: Josef Stalin. A story of another time, this is a tale relevant for all times"--… (more)

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This is a life of Noel Field, who began as an idealistic Quaker son of an American Quaker living in Switzerland, and became a Soviet spy in Europe and America from the 1930s to the early 1950s; he remained a committed Stalinist even after Stalin's Hungarian security used him as a tool to destroy many of his friends in the Eastern European Communist parties who were, in Stalin's view, too nationalistic and or cosmopolitan.
While working for the US State Department in the 1930s. Field was apparently active in the same Communist or fellow-traveler circles as the better known and more controversial Alger Hiss; unlike Hiss, as far as i know, no one doubts Field was a Soviet operative. He later worked for the dying League of Nations in Geneva and then for an ostensible relief organization whose undisclosed purpose was rescuing and protecting Communists from fascist threats as more of Europe came under fascist control.. The tone is one of hard-edged contempt for Field and his cause; it also includes some superfluous comparisons with the attitudes of modern jihadists. ( )
  antiquary | Mar 14, 2017 |
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