Man Without A Face

Man Without A Face

The Autobiography of Communism's Greatest Spymaster

Paperback - 1999
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For decades, Markus Wolf was known to Western intelligence officers only as "the man without a face." Now the legendary spymaster has emerged from the shadows to reveal his remarkable life of secrets, lies, and betrayals as head of the world's most formidable and effective foreign service ever. Wolf was undoubtedly the greatest spymaster of our century. A shadowy Cold War legend who kept his own past locked up as tightly as the state secrets with which he was entrusted, Wolf finally broke his silence in 1997. Man Without a Face is the result. It details all of Wolf's major successes and failures and illuminates the reality of espionage operations as few nonfiction works before it. Wolf tells the real story of Gunter Guillaume, the East German spy who brought down Willy Brandt. He reveals the truth behind East Germany's involvment with terrorism. He takes us inside the bowels of the Stasi headquarters and inside the minds of Eastern Bloc leaders. With its high-speed chases, hidden cameras, phony brothels, secret codes, false identities, and triple agents, Man Without a Face reads like a classic spy thriller--except this time the action is real.
Publisher: New York : Public Affairs, [1999], c1997.
ISBN: 9781891620126
Characteristics: xxv, 411 pages, [16] pages of plates :,illustrations portraits ;,21 cm.
Additional Contributors: McElvoy, Anne 1965-


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Sep 17, 2017

This is an interesting and surprising read. For fans of John LeCarré's espionage fiction, Markus Wolf was rumored to be the model for the fictional figure, Karla, i.e., the head of foreign intelligence at Moscow Centre and George Smiley's nemesis. Wolf was the head of foreign intelligence at the State Security apparatus in East Germany (DDR) before its collapse.

You won't find a great deal of gripping espionage scenes in the book, because Wolf was too professional to indulge in melodrama. What you might find interesting is his last chapter looking back at intelligence services in the East and West, and his realistic appraisal of their strengths and weaknesses.

I always wondered how intelligent men, such as Wolf, could devote their lives to the service of authoritarian, harshly oppressive states. This book answered my question. Wolf was a believer in a utopian version of Communism, as had his parents. He believed that Marx and Engels had developed a theory of a truly better world in which liberty, equality and fraternity of men actually could exist, and he was appalled by the abuses of power by Stalin and others. And, yet, he continued to serve those governments in hopes that his dream would come to fruition one day. Of course, it didn't.

Wolf was a highly intelligent man, an optimist and a utopian. He died in 2006 in Berlin. His thoughts are definitely worth reading and thinking about.

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