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Farewell: The Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century

Farewell: The Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century [Kindle Edition]

Sergei Kostin , Eric Raynaud , Richard V. Allen , Catherine Cauvin-Higgins

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1981. Ronald Reagan and François Mitterrand are sworn in as presidents of the Unites States and France, respectively. The tension due to Mitterrand’s French Communist support, however, is immediately defused when he gives Reagan the Farewell Dossier, a file he would later call “one of the greatest spy cases of the twentieth century.”

Vladimir Ippolitovitch Vetrov, a promising technical student, joins the KGB to work as a spy. Following a couple of murky incidents, however, Vetrov is removed from the field and placed at a desk as an analyst. Soon, burdened by a troubled marriage and frustrated at a flailing career, Vetrov turns to alcohol. Desperate and needing redemption, he offers his services to the DST. Thus Agent Farewell is born. He uses his post within the KGB to steal and photocopy files of the USSR’s plans for the West—all under Brezhnev’s nose.

Probing further into Vetrov’s psychological profile than ever before, Kostin and Raynaud provide groundbreaking insight into the man whose life helped hasten the fall of the Soviet Regime.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Sergei Kostin is a Russian documentary maker and writer living in Moscow. He is author of four nonfiction books, mainly about secret services, translated into eight languages, including The Man Behind the Rosenbergs and of four spy novels published in Russia, the USA (Paris Weekend), Bulgaria, and Serbia. First published in France in 1997 under the title Bonjour Farewell, Farewell was the fruit of two years of painstaking investigation in Moscow and Paris interviewing the key players and witnesses to this amazing adventure.

Eric Raynaud is a French film writer who joined up with Sergei Kostin to contribute to Farewell after the release of the film L’Affaire Farewell, starring Willem Dafoe.

Catherine Cauvin-Higgins is a French-Russian-English translator. She was Thomson-CSF interpreter during the Vetrov years, working directly with Jacques Prévost, Vetrov's initial French contact, and Xavier Ameil, his first handler. She participated in trade negotiations with Vetrov's peers, in Paris and in Moscow, during those years.


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5.0 von 5 Sternen Soviet/KGB Espionage: One Man's Descent into the Black Hole of No Return 12. Juli 2011
Von Erika Borsos - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
When Vladimir Vetrov was asked by his French contact, Patrick Ferrant what would happen to them if they were caught, Vladimir also known as Volodia replied, "For me it will be a bullet in the back of the head; for you, a stupid accident, with your wife; a truck perhaps, or an unfortunate fall on the subway track in front of an oncoming train" (quoted from page 167). This book is about the life story of Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB intelligence officer who voluntarily became a double agent working for the French, through their agency called DST, which in some respects resembled the American FBI. The DST did not normally engage in foreign activity of this kind but recognizing the significance of the offer, they proceeded with caution. To their surprise and amazement, the quality of the information passed on by Volodia was priceless. It contained some of the most highly damaging information that the Soviets had obtained via espionage about Western defense systems and technology related to the military/industrial complex. Volodia's reasons for becoming a double agent are examined in this book and his life story is told from his family origins to his successful placement into the most presitigious engineering University in Moscow and how he managed to become a KGB intelligence officer in the PGU (also called the First Chief Directorate). The authors interviewed significant people in Volodia's life, his wife Svetlana, his son, Vladik, his good friends, many French witnesses to these events and many coworkers, along with examining KGB secret archival information from that time which has since become available to the public. The authors are Sergei Kostin,a Russian documentary maker who resides in Moscow who wrote the first book, called "Bon Jour Farewell" in 1997, first published in France, and Eric Raynaud a French screenwriter who helped write the script for the film based on that book, titled "L'Afairre Farewell" starring William Dafoe and Fred Ward. Raynaud assisted with rewriting this book, based on his personal research for the film.

This book is about the astonishing true story of Vladimir Vetrov's life as a double agent, a KGB insider who worked for the PGU, the coveted intelligence service branch, whose agents were selected to travel abroad, where they could amass by Soviet standards material wealth that would see them well into retirement. Volodia had been assigned to Paris, France where he and his wife first tasted "the good life" which was in total contradiction to what the Soviets (Communists) had described about Western standards of living. They also travelled on assignment to Toronto, Canada from where Volodia had been recalled and later lost the privilege to travel abroad as an intelligence officer, without totally understanding why. The contradictions of living as a KGB officer and the lack of promotion, along with Volodia's personal belief in his superior skills and proven success, and work ethic, went against the grain and grated on him when he saw the relatives of the nomenklatura, those who were "politically" connected to Communist officials, received promotions, including better wages, and superior positions which included traveling abroad. He felt locked out of the system which sustained him. He recognized no matter how hard he worked, he was destined to remain unnoticed, unrewarded. His sense of loyalty changed, although, he had a happy marriage, a beautiful and intelligent wife, and a son he doted on and loved - his personal life was starting to unravel, as his main identity was his job, which was unfulfilling. He began to drink heavily and he sought comfort and love outside the bounds of marriage. On some levels, by Soviet standards, Vladimir and his wife Svetlana lived enviable lives, they managed to buy a dacha, a country house outside of Moscow where they socialized with friends. Their son, received a University education, although not in the most prestigious school, he graduated as an engineer and was able to build a good life for himself by Soviet standards. Svetlana, had connections to buying antiques, which she loved, and therefore tastefully furnished their apartment. She developed haute coutre taste in clothes and had her clothes made by the new Russian fashion designers, who would later become internationally known. The wives and daughters of the nomenklatura were the patrons of these designers. Despite all his achievements, the need for revenge against the Soviet system gnawed at his soul - Volodia knew the risks he was taking as he made contact with the French, his only purpose was to somehow damage the Soviet system for creating such contradictions and lies under which he had to live ...

In many ways, Vladimir Vetrov was such a kind, open and honest human being, the reader begins to realize the elements which played an important role in his life and how he was unable to reconcile the contradictions and failures of the Soviet system under which he lived. He was an imperfect person as all human beings are but when he realized he could not fulfill the higher standards of achievement he set for himself - he went about things on an altogether different plane of existence. The deterioration of his personal life, inner struggles with alcoholism, and need to climb the ladder of success (which was denied to him) all combined to the monumental decision to become a double agent and exact revenge on the Soviet system that denied him social recognition on the level he desired. Besides committing the ultimate social tabu in the Soviet system: treason, Vladimir Vetrov committed several unexpected actions which led to his downfall and arrest, and later the discovery of his being a double agent. I will keep the reader of this review in suspense, hanging, because this book is a "must read" for anyone who enjoys espionage, spy thrillers and political intrigue and most amazingly, this book is nonfiction!!! It is well worth reading this book to discover the scope and quality of the information which Vladimir Vetrov provided the French, who naturally shared the information with the Western nations whose countries' defense systems were vulnerable by the information which the Soviets possessed. It is also highly worth reading to discover what unexpected events transpired which resulted in the arrest of Vladimir Vetrov and his ultimate fate. In summary, this is one of the best books I have read this year. Erika Borsos [pepper flower}
44 von 48 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Revenge against corruption 10. Juli 2011
Von not a natural - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Farewell is an interesting book loaded with detail and informed speculation about the activities of a disgruntled KGB officer who was determined to do damage to the organization and officials who, in his view, shunted him aside and prevented him from attaining a positiion of prominence and deserved affluence. During the first two years of the 1980's, Lt.Col. Vladimir Vetrov copied, photographed, and passed on to the West truly massive amounts of evidence that Farewell's authors, Kostin and Raynaud, present as demonstrating the near-total reliance of the Soviet Union on espionage rather than its own research and development to maintain parity in the arms race that characterized the long Cold War from the end of WW II until the collapse of Eastern Europe's multi-state edifice of communism in 1989.

Contrary to what a casual observer unfamiliar with the case might imagine, Vetrov did not work through the American CIA, the British MI6, or any other well developed western intelligence organization. Instead, Vetrov cleverly contacted the French, who at the time had no intelligence operatives in the Soviet Uniion. With an added touch of irony, while working as a KGB officer in France, Vetrov made his initial overtures to the French DST (Directorate of Territorial Surveillance), an internal counter-intelligence organization roughly comparable to the FBI. The DST had neither the experience nor the legally mandated authority to handle foreign agents in intelligence gathering. However, when the first documents provided by Vetrov were brought to the attention of the newly elected French President, Francois Mitterand, he supported the DST in its efforts to continue with Operation Farewell.

One consequence of Vetrov's use of the French DST was that he was able to rely on his years of experience and training as a KGB intelligence officer to direct his own activities, including his first contacts with an ordinary French businessman rather than a government official, and subsequently with the DST personnel to whom he passed on information. According to the authors, and based on interviews with former KGB officers and others with expert knowledge of intelligence and counter-intelligence, had Vetrov followed the initial proposals of the DST or operated according to any other set of established intelligence agency protocols, his operation would have been uncovered almost immediately, rather than continuing over a period of two productive years.

Vetrov's dissatisfaction with his circumstances as a KGB officer may, at first glance, seem unwarranted, inconsistent with the comfortable circumstances in which he and his family lived. Their Moscow apartment, by Soviet standards, was spacious and luxuriously furnished, even containing art work of substantial monetary value and attesting to the good taste of Vetrov and his wife Svetlana. Vetrov had his own car, a fairly unusual convenience, and his son's education at a university or university-level technical institute was sure to be paid for by the state. In addition, Vetrov had a rustic home in the country where he and his family went for weekends and vacations, escaping the crowds, traffic, and Stalinist drabness of Moscow.

Nevertheless, Vetrov was convinced, I think with good reason, that over the course of his life, his originality, his pertinent scientific and technical knowledge, and his hard work had been discounted, leaving him in the position of a bureaucratic mediocrity to be retired without promotion to the coveted rank of full Colonel. The legitimate means Vetrov used in seeking advancement, such as preparing on his own initiative thoroughly informed analyses and detailed forecasts of the Soviet systems scientific and technological capabilities and limitations, were routinely ignored.

Vetrov attributed his keenly felt lack of recognition to a totalistic state that, in all its manifestations, had become thoroughly corrupt. Granting of promotions and awards for exemplary service were based on nepotism or were outcomes of bureaucratic in-fighting, rather than demonstrated merit. A mid-career officer without connections could expcet little more than to be routinely compensated and left alone, denied the opportunity to serve at higher institutional levels working on the most prestigious projects and being acknowledged accordingly.

Given the relative ease and comfort of his position, however, it seems reasonable to wonder why Vetrov didn't just ride it out and retire to a quiet life in the country. Yes, he was ambitious, intelligent, hard-working, and under-valued, but was this sufficient reason to risk his future and the future of his family simply to avenge being overlooked and unappreciated?

The authors gave a good deal of thought to this question and even consulted psychologists, criminologists, and others with the kind of expertise and insight that might provide a plausible answer. They offer a fairly lengthy and, I think, unconvincing account of Vetrov's self-destruction. My reading of Farewell is that, yes, Vetrov was motivated by revenge, but he was also arrogant, self-centered, mercurial, and impulsive, an impatient, even action-seeking man who drank excessively and indulged in numerous extra-marital affairs. His conflicting accounts of his lengthy sexual relationship with a KGB translator named Ludmilla Ochinka betrayed the fact that he was torn between his family and a life with his mistress. Wracked with ambivalence, he vacillated endlessly in what must have been an estraordinarily stressful set of circumstances, and may or may not have been exacerbated by threats Ludmilla made to expose him.

Vetrov, clearly, was not the sort who was able to say "Oh, what the Hell?" and let it go at that. His frustration with his career in the KGB, exacerbated by the stress and uncertainty of his personal life, generated rebellion that eventually proved self-destructive.

Interestingly, Vetrov received little in the way of material compensation for documents that NATO countries considered invaluable. Greed was not his motive, nor was he consistently inclined to leave the Sovite Union. Vetrov was convinced that he was a good deal smarter than the colleagues who might find him out, and he maintained his conviction that he could provide for his material needs and personal safety without gifts or extrication to France or elsewhere. He needed the French only as a mail-pouch contact with the outside world. Otherwise, he could take care of himself.

Kostin and Rayanud, in the final chapter of their book, make an effort to assess the geo-political importance of Operation Farewell, including its role in ending the Cold War. Certainly, the more than three thousand documents that Vetrov was able to send to the West gave ample evidence that Soviet intelligence was remarkably effective in at least one important way: stealing top secret, highly technical, weapons-grade information from the U.S., France, and most of the West. Vetrov, thus, provided nations on the capitaist side of the Iron Curtain with information they needed to bring an end to the sieve-like seepage of precious informaton that had enabled the Soviets to maintain military parity with the West. Furthermore, by not publicly acknowledging what they knew to be serious breaches of security, Western nations could provide misinformation, thereby slowing Soviet scientific and technological progress even more than if they had simply plugged the innumerable leaks.

Finally, and this is a point emphasized by Kostin and Raynaud, when Ronald Reagan decided to escalate the Cold War, he forced the Soviet Union to invest more of its scarce resources in weapons development. By shutting off the supply of stolen scientific and technological information of military importance, Operation Farewell contributed to convincing the Soviet Union that it could not compete without driving itself into bankruptcy.

All this happened at a very interesting, even precarious, time: The U.S. had just elected a hawkish president, Ronald Reagan, who rejected detente and had quickly installed Pershiing missiles in Western Europe. The French had just elected a socialist president, Francois Mitterand, who had appointed several communists to his cabinet, and who favored elimination of secret services of all kinds. And Vladimir Vetrov had had enough of being taken for granted and ignored.

The real impact of Operation Farewell on the fall of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War is difficult to assess. The story, however, is a good one, well told and well worth reading, even though its protagonist, at the end, is executed by the KGB he had sought to discredit.
29 von 31 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excerpts Reveal a Stunning Story 9. Juli 2011
Von LD - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
P. 83 "The communist regime was in a visible state of slow decomposition. ....In addition to the external erosion, the inside was rotting away since, as already mentioned, the PGU officers recruited in the seventies were vastly inferior to the generation of the sixties." A WWII hero asks, "Is this what I went to war for?"

P. 145 The Defense Minister in Mitterand's French government was a Soviet spy. Even though communists were ministers in the government, Reagan changed his mind about Mitterand when Mitterand provided the US with lists of spies and collaborators sending NATO and technological plans to the KGB.

P168 "What Vetrov meant was that, through corruption and nepotism, totally inept and incompetent individuals were holding very highly responsible positions with the regime, and in a world where nuclear weapons kept multiplying, the situation could become dangerous."

P. 169 Beginning in 1981 Andropov and Ustinov (the next two leaders of the USSR) believed the US would start WWIII.
"When Ferrant brought it up, Vetrov simple explained that at the KGB the shooting of the pope was a subject of joking at the expense of the Bulgarians, the main suspects in this affair. On a more serious note, he told Ferrant that there had been a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs way before the assassinate attempt. Gromyko himself had confided to the Warsaw Pact member representatives that the problem with the pope would be soon taken care of."
"Vetrov felt, in the long run, stealing scientific and technical secrets could only come back to haunt the instigator. When we need a fastener for one of our rockets, our research organizations don't even ask themselves what would be the best type but wonder which workshop in Cape Canaveral would have it."

P.257 "This software was meant to control gas pipeline valves and turbines, and was delivered with viruses embedded in the code by one of the contractors. The viruses were designed to have a delayed effect; at first the software seemed to work. The sudden activation of the viruses in December 1983 led to a huge three kiloton explosion in the Uregoi gas field, precisely in Siberia...."

P. 306 "In 1983 alone, a total of 148 Soviet intelligence officers had to pack and go home."

You will find more things that confirm or explain what you remember from the news of the early 1980s. I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed episodes of Vetrov's life. The fall of the USSR was partly due to the information that the West used to beat them at their weaknesses.
55 von 67 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Good story, but... 4. August 2011
Von kevnm - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
The epic reviews here give a sufficient profile of the story and characters involved, so I won't rehash those points. I'd like to comment that the story is indeed intriguing and will be enjoyed by those who've read about other modern-day spies like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. What made the book less satisfying for me was the writing and the translation. I regret to report that both are clunky, unsophisticated, and detract from the compelling narrative. The authors frequently make comments like 'this will be important later in our story,' or 'this witness seemed like a nice, honest person.' It's not the sort of journalism we're lucky enough to enjoy in the West. In other places, exclamation points follow seemingly bland points, making the text sound like a children's tale. Good story, but a tough slog.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The most accurate portrayal of everyday life in the Soviet Union yet 17. Oktober 2011
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Von Amazon bestätigter Kauf
I was born in the Soviet Union and this book has by far the most accurate and vivid portrayal of the everyday life in the Soviet Union in the 60s - early 80s. The spy story itself is interesting and entertaining, as well.

Highly recommend if you are interested in learning more about Cold War / Soviet Union. Interestingly, modern Russia hasn't changed that much from those days - not my problem anymore.
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There is a difference between being simplistic and having simple answers to complex questions. &quote;
Markiert von 43 Kindle-Nutzern
The actions of a single person with access to the secrets of a major power have the potential to modify the course of history. &quote;
Markiert von 26 Kindle-Nutzern
The feeling of being a victim of social injustice and his aversion toward string-pulling would be the thread of his life story, typical for a Soviet-style self-made man. &quote;
Markiert von 23 Kindle-Nutzern

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