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True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy is about the 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. Noel Field is the ultimate antihero. He started off in life as a bright young star in the US State Department fresh out of Harvard. He finished a four year program in just two years. When the USSR was looking for recruits into the Soviet secret service in the 30s. He was tagged as somebody of promise and somebody who was also vulnerable. It was because he was this idealistic young man searching for meaning in life.
He was basically seduced into spying. He started copying classified documents from his desk at the State Department. Security in those days was very lax. The US was gearing up for war against the Nazis and the Communists were not deemed to be a big threat. It was Moscow that finally outed him and it turned out to be a terrible decision which cost him not only his career in American foreign service but cost the lives of hundreds of people and ultimately cost him his freedom.
Noel Field, started out as a well-meaning and privileged American. He spied for Josef Stalin’s USSR during the 1930s and up t0 the early 50s. A pawn in Stalin’s sinister master strategy, Field was kidnapped and tortured by the KGB via the Hungarian security services and forced to testify against his friends in the Eastern European Communist parties who were, in Stalin’s view, too nationalistic and or cosmopolitan.
Not only was Noel Field arrested and put in prison, his wife, brother and adopted daughter were also jailed when they went looking for him when it was reported that he was missing. What is strange though is that after his release, he remained a committed Communist until his death. He had this strange belief that he was jailed for a higher purpose.
Noel Field joined the secret underground of the International Communist Movement during the 1930s. It was a time of national collapse. Around ten million Americans were unemployed. Racism was very rampant.While working for the US State Department in the 1930s. Field was active in the same Communist circles as the better known and more controversial Alger Hiss. Unlike Hiss, no one doubts Field was a Soviet operative.
He later worked for the dying League of Nations in Geneva. After which, he worked for a relief organization whose undisclosed purpose was rescuing and protecting Communists from fascist threats as more of Europe came under fascist control.
True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy explores how an Ivy League-educated, US State Department employee, deeply rooted in American culture and history, became a hardcore communist who idolized Josef Stalin and the Stalinist style of communism.
Kati Marton, the author, captures Field’s quest for a life of meaning that went horribly wrong. The tone of the book is one of contempt for Field and his cause.
The book also includes some comparisons with the attitudes of modern jihadists.
A bit of warning though. Since this is a historical non-fiction book, it could get boring. But if you want to read before going to bed, this is an ideal book as it can easily lull you to sleep. This book is available HERE.
Noel Field’s life in a way is similar to that of Kim Philby, the British master spy who was also an agent of the USSR during the same period.