(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In 1941, after working his way through college and law school, Bob Lamphere joined the FBI. In 1945, having gained general criminal investigation experience in both Birmingham, Alabama, and New York City, he was assigned to the Soviet Espionage Squad in New York, a move he made with some ambivalence. The Squad at that time was very small and barely known to FBI agents in general. The field of counterintelligence was fairly new, however, and Lamphere became stimulated by the challenge. Gradually he began to glimpse the range and sophistication of KGB espionage networks and to appreciate the threat posed by the FBI’s adversary.

In 1947, when Lamphere became a supervisor in the Espionage Section in Washington, D.C., he asked to be placed in charge of coded KGB messages then kept undeciphered in an FBI safe. Lamphere believes that these messages changed the course of history. It was with the help of these gradually deciphered messages, a few defectors, and painstaking and tenacious detective work that such famous spies as Klaus Fuchs, Harry Gold, Morton Sobell, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were eventually caught, tried, and convicted.

The FBI-KGB WAR traces the development of counterintelligence activities in the FBI from their bare beginnings in the early 1940’s to their triumph in the Rosenberg case. In part, the author notes, he wrote this book in order to help correct what he believes is a lingering perception in the minds of many Americans that the Rosenbergs, who were executed, were in fact innocent. This perception, Lamphere believes, is a testament to the power and effectiveness of Soviet propaganda.

As Lamphere unfolds his spy stories, he also offers the reader fascinating insights into the trials and tribulations of FBI agents during the virtual dictatorship of J. Edgar Hoover. As a first-person account of the FBI and its counterespionage activities before, during, and, for a short time, after the McCarthy era, this book makes interesting and informative reading.