David E. Hoffman

View on Amazon

David E. Hoffman's The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal (Doubleday, 2015) was first brought to my attention in a superb interview conducted with the author at The International Spy Museum. The story immediately captivated my attention and I realized this would be a perfect book to feature on New Books in National Security. I was not disappointed; Mr. Hoffman is as captivating a speaker as he is a writer, capable of weaving together immaculately recreated historical threads. The book is as compelling as it is revealing, delving deep into what Hoffman calls the "sweaty" reality of the intelligence battles fought behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Drawing on extensive interviews, declassified CIA cables, and personal experience walking the very streets of Moscow where his subjects lived and died, Hoffman offers an impressive standard for future storytelling on the realities of spycraft. The Billion Dollar Spy is among the most fascinating and thrilling reads I have enjoyed in recent memory, and I highly recommend it to anyone at all interested in the Cold War or espionage writ large.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

David FrickKith, Kin and Neighbors: Communities and Confessions in 17th Century Wilno

October 9, 2015

In 1636, King Władsław IV's quartermaster surveyed the houses of Wilno in advance of the king's visit to the city. In Kith, Kin and Neighbors: Communities and Confessions in Seventeenth-Century Wilno (Cornell University Press, 2013), David Frick begins with this house-by-house account to reveal the complex relationships among the city's multi-ethnic and multi-confessional inhabitants. He weaves […]

Read the full article →

Alexander EtkindWarped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the Land of the Unburied

July 26, 2015

Theoretical and historical accounts of postcatastrophic societies often discuss melancholia and trauma at length but leave processes of mourning underexplored.  In Warped Mourning: Stories of the Undead in the Land of the Unburied (Stanford UP, 2013), Alexander Etkind shows why mourning is more conducive to cultural analysis.  Where trauma is unsymbolized and melancholia is contained […]

Read the full article →

David R. StoneThe Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917

June 12, 2015

Readers wanting to learn more about the Great War on the Eastern Front can do no better than David R. Stone's new work, The Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (University Press of Kansas, 2015). The last work to treat this comprehensively was Norman Stone's (no relation), The Eastern Front, 1914-1917, […]

Read the full article →

John-Paul Himka and Joanna Beata MichlicBringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe

April 29, 2015

I'll be leaving soon to take students on a European travel course. During the three weeks we'll be gone, in addition to cathedrals, museums and castles, they'll visit Auschwitz, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and a variety of other Holocaust related sights.  And I'll ask them to think about what we can […]

Read the full article →

Bilyana LillyRussian Foreign Policy toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence

February 3, 2015

The current conflict in Ukraine has reopened old wounds and brought the complexity of Russia’s relationship with the United States and Europe to the forefront. One of the most important factors in relations between the Kremlin and the West has been the issue of Ballistic Missile Defense, particularly as a result of American plans to […]

Read the full article →

Thane GustafsonWheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia

January 20, 2015

Russia's economy hinges on its ability to produce and sell natural resources. Especially oil. It comes as no surprise that the collapse of Soviet Union ushered in a mad scramble for control over oil resources. The oligarchs who sat atop the treasure trove of oil production following post-Soviet privatization, clashed with the Russian government over […]

Read the full article →

Jenny KaminerWomen with a Thirst for Destruction: The Bad Mother in Russian Culture

January 20, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Gender Studies] Jenny Kaminer's new book, Women with a Thirst for Destruction: The Bad Mother in Russian Culture (Northwestern University Press, 2014) analyzes Russian myths of motherhood over time and in particular, the evolving myths of the figure of the "bad mother." Her study examines how political, religious, economic, social, and cultural factors affect […]

Read the full article →

Alexander CooleyGreat Game, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia

November 11, 2014

Central Asia is one of the least studied and understood regions of the Eurasian landmass, conjuring up images of 19th century Great Power politics, endless steppe, and impenetrable regimes. Alexander Cooley, a professor of Political Science at Barnard College in New York, has studied the five post-Soviet states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan […]

Read the full article →

Angela StentThe Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twentieth-First Century

November 3, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in World Affairs] In 2005, the Comedy Central Network aired an episode of "South Park" in which one of the characters asked if any “Third World” countries other than Russia had the ability to fly a whale to the moon. During a press conference that took place two years later, Russian President Vladimir […]

Read the full article →