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Book review of “Deep Undercover” by Jack Barsky former KGB spy

publicerad 27 januari 2023
- Kristoffer Hell
Jack Barsky - Foto: BuzzFeedBlue

Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America is the autobiography of “Jack Barsky,” an East German star student born as Albrecht Dietreich in 1949 and at 26 recruited by the Soviet KGB.

Using the alias of a deceased American, “Jack Barsky” spied against the United States until 1988 when British intelligence learned about an illegal codenamed Dieter operating in the US under an assumed identity.

The Soviets reacted quickly and recalled their decorated spy hero.

But “Jack Barsky” never left. Neither did he defect.

He simply stopped working for the KGB, stayed in New York, and carried on living as an American, supporting his family.

In May 1997 the FBI finally apprehended him, on his way home from his work at an insurance company.

Deep Undercover is the memoir of one man, and his unique trajectory, from a childhood in a bombed-out East Germany, which had recently substituted Nazism for Communism, as state ideology, to a Hollywood-ish ending in the material affluence of upper-middle-class America.

It is the story of how:

“Jack Barsky the spy became Jack Barsky the human being,” as FBI Special Agent Joe Reilly put it – the man who led the investigation against him and eventually became his friend.
“Failed marriages, abandoned children, lost causes, financial uncertainty—all the detritus of a spy’s life—failed to crush an inner spark of optimism that continues to drive Jack toward the next new chapter in his life.”

That next chapter opened in 2007 when Jack Barsky became a born-again Christian.

Deep Undercover will benefit anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of the Cold War and the human dimension of espionage. The absence of violence makes the book suitable to read also for teenagers.

Text: Kristoffer Hell

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