Stalin’s Man in Canada: Fred Rose and Soviet Espionage by David Levy

Canadian sources often claim that Gouzenko case was a wake up call to the beginning of the Cold War. Whether it is true or not so much is to the analysts to decide. But running a spy network in your ally territory can’t be considered a friendly gesture.

The book provides very detailed description of the life of Fred Rose (born Fishel Rosenberg in Poland), Soviet intelligence operative and Canadian Member of Parliament. First part of the book focuses on the pre-WW2 labour movement in Montreal and Fred’s dynamic rise as a figure in the game. It mentions successful PR-campaign run by the Soviet Russia, built on victory over Germany but on keeping the skeletons in the closet, or rather burying them in Siberia. As a result of the campaign the Soviet State had grown the army of sympathizers in the West in form of the Communist and Labour Parties, Unions, etc. Quite naturally the next move was to turn the Communists into the spies. And that was another success. So the story of Fred Rose was just one of many. But it stands out for Canada.

The second part of the book is the one I found most interesting. It contains in my opinion the most detailed story of the defection of Igor Gouzenko, at least in regards to uncovering Fred Rose secret relationship with the USSR. Surprisingly, the Soviet intelligence tried to prevent Gouzenko defection, but after the fact they washed their hands and let their operative to sink.

The book tells us about the awkwardness of Canadian political machine, the Prime Minister Mackenzie King trying not to offence Generalissimo Stalin, about clever RCMP game, visibly putting things off, but working hard surreptitiously.

Highly recommended to all interested in Cold War and the history of spying:
Stalin’s Man in Canada: Fred Rose and Soviet Espionage by David Levy from Amazon.

The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia by Angus Roxburgh

It is probably most appropriate to post this review on the day of the re-inauguration of Vladimir Putin, re-elected as a President of Russian Federation for the third time.

As much as the book is not exactly about Putin, he is still an axis all the events described in the book are pivoting around. The book is a fascinating book in modern history covering last 12 years of developing relations between Russia and the West. It’s a history of failed attempts, misunderstandings, tricks and backstabbing.

I will afford only one quote that may sum up the essence of the narrative (p. 251-252, hard cover edition):

“… the failure of Russia and the West to understand one another and to take one another’s concerns and fears into account. Bush preached and lectured. Putin raged and menaced. America said that Russia must give up its ‘sphere of influence’ in its ‘near abroad’. Russia said that America should stop acting as if it ruled the world. Bush accused Putin of communist-style authoritarianism. Putin accused Bush of Cold War thinking. Both were right.”

If you were thinking whether the Cold War was over, of if it had ever happened, this book is brilliant material to explore the topic from authors first hand account, as well as from the interviews granted by the very participants of the historical events of 1999 to the date.

Extremely highly recommended: The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia