Spying Through a Glass Darkly : American Espionage Against the Soviet Union, 1945-1946


For the period between World War II and the full onset of the Cold War, histories of American intelligence seem to go dark. Yet in those years a little known clandestine organization, the Strategic Services Unit (SSU), emerged from the remnants of wartime American intelligence to lay the groundwork for what would become the CIA and, in ways revealed here for the first time, conduct its own secret warof espionage and political intrigue in postwar Europe. Telling the full story of this early and surprisingly effective espionage arm ofthe United States, Spying through a Glass Darkly brings a critical chapter in the history of Cold War intelligence out of the shadows.Constrained by inadequate staff and limited resources, distracted by the conflicting demands of agencies of the US government,and victimized by disinformation and double agents, the Strategic Services Unit struggled to maintain an effective Americanclandestine capability after the defeat of the Axis Powers. Never viscerally anti-communist, the Strategic Services Unit was slow torecognize the Soviet Union as a potential threat, but gradually it began to mount operations, often in collaboration with the intelligence services of Britain, France, Italy, Denmark, and Sweden, to throw light into the darker corners of the Soviet regime. Bringing to bear a wealth of archival documents, operational records,interviews, and correspondence, David Alvarez and Eduard Mark chronicle SSU's successes and failures in procuring intelligence on the capabilities and intentions of the Soviet Union, a chronicle that delves deeply into the details of secret operations against Soviet targets throughout Europe: not only in the backstreets of the divided cities of Berlin and Vienna, but also the cafes, hotels, offices, and salons of such cosmopolitan capitals as Paris, Rome, Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw.

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