true believer

BOOK REVIEW: True Believer – Stalin’s Last American Spy

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True Believer Book Cover True Believer
Kati Marton

“Kati Marton’s True Believer is a true story of intrigue, treachery, murder, torture, fascism, and an unshakable faith in the ideals of Communism….A fresh take on espionage activities from a critical period of history” (Washington Independent Review of Books). True Believer reveals the life of Noel Field, once a well-meaning and privileged American who spied for Stalin during the 1930s and forties. Later, 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. 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, in a “relevant…fascinating…vividly reconstructed” (The New York Times Book Review) account, 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. “Relevant today as a tale of fanaticism and the lengths it can take one to” (Publishers Weekly), True Believer is “riveting reading” (USA TODAY), an astonishing real-life spy thriller, filled with danger, misplaced loyalties, betrayal, treachery, and pure evil, with a plot twist worthy of John le Carré.

 

True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy

True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy

Incredibly True!

From Amazon: “Kati Marton’s True Believer is a true story of intrigue, treachery, murder, torture, fascism, and an unshakable faith in the ideals of Communism….A fresh take on espionage activities from a critical period of history” (Washington Independent Review of Books).
About the Book

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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.

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Details
Author:
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Historical, History, True Crime
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Year: 2016
Length: 304
Rating:

About the Author
Kati Marton

Kati Marton is an award-winning former correspondent for NPR and ABC News. She is the author of eight books, the most recent of which is the New York Times-bestselling memoir Paris: A Love StoryEnemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Her other works include The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, Wallenberg, A Death in Jerusalem, and a novel, An American Woman. Marton lives in New York City.

From Goodreads.

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