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Book Review – Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky

I decided to take a break from monster hunters, zombies, and hover tanks and picked up Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky.

Oleg Gordievsky was the highest ranking KGB officer ever to work for Britain.

For eleven years, from 1974 to 1985, he acted as a secret agent, reporting to the British Secret Intelligence Service while continuing to work as a KGB officer, first in Copenhagen, then in London.

He provided Western security organizations with such a clear insight into the mind and methods of the KGB and the larger Soviet government that he has been credited with doing more than any other individual in the West to accelerate the collapse of Communism.

In this thrilling memoir, Gordievsky lays out his extraordinary, meticulously planned escape from Russia, a story that has been described as ‘one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying.’ (Ben Macintyre – The Times)

Peopled with bizarre, dangerous and corrupt characters, Gordievsky introduces the reader to the fantastical world of the Soviet Embassy, tells of the British MPs and trade unionists who helped and took money from the KGB, and reveals at last what the author told Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders which made him of such value to the West.

Gordievsky’s autobiography gives a fascinating account of life as a secret agent. It also paints the most graphic picture yet of the paranoid incompetence, alongside the ruthless determination, of the all-encompassing and sometimes ridiculous KGB.

Next Stop Execution tells the life story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB agent who should have been the idyllic Soviet man.  Instead, through exposure to both Western ideals and witnessing such Communist brutality as the raising of the Berlin Wall, he began to work toward the ruin and eventual downfall of the Soviet state.

Gordievsky’s descriptions and narrative are detailed, if a little dry at times.  However, his ability to draw exquisite pictures of the people he worked with, for, and against brings his story to life.  In addition, his description of life under Soviet oppression acts as a stark backdrop to these characters.  This isn’t an action story by any means, but it proceeds with a tension that breaks only in the aftermath of his escape from the Soviet Union.

Next Stop Execution is a must-read for history buffs who want to learn a little more about the shadowy side of the late Cold War.

1 Comment

  1. OldNFO

     /  November 13, 2018

    Adding it to the read pile! 🙂

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