• Spymaster

  • Startling Cold War Revelations of a Soviet KGB Chief
  • By: Tennent H. Bagley
  • Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
  • Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (736 ratings)

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Spymaster

By: Tennent H. Bagley
Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
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Publisher's Summary

From the dark days of World War II through the Cold War, Sergey A. Kondrashev was a major player in Russia’s notorious KGB espionage apparatus. Rising through its ranks through hard work and keen understanding of how the spy and political games are played, he “handled” American and British defectors, recruited Western operatives as double agents, served as a ranking officer at the East Berlin and Vienna KGB bureaus, and tackled special assignments from the Kremlin.

During a 1994 television program about former spymasters, Kondrashev met and began a close friendship with a former foe, ex–CIA officer Tennent H. “Pete” Bagley, whom the Russian asked to help write his memoirs.

Because Bagley knew so about much of Kondrashev’s career (they had been on opposite sides in several operations), his penetrating questions and insights reveal slices of never-revealed espionage history that rival anything found in the pages of Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, or John le Carr. This includes chilling tales of surviving Stalin’s purges while superiors and colleagues did not, of plotting to reveal the Berlin Tunnel, of quelling the Hungarian Revolution and “Prague Spring” independence movements, and of assisting in arranging the final disposition of the corpses of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Kondrashev also details equally fascinating KGB propaganda and disinformation efforts that shaped Western attitudes throughout the Cold War.

Because publication of these memoirs was banned by Putin’s regime, Bagley promised Kondrashev to have them published in the West. They are now available to all who are fascinated by vivid tales of international intrigue.

©2013 Tennent H. Bagley (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Spymaster

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An brilliant personal Cold War perspective

A fascinating story of the personal life of a man who survived the Stalin purges, participated in events that molded the Cold War, and a transparent view of "of the other side".

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The true story of a former Russian spy

What made the experience of listening to Spymaster the most enjoyable?

The revelations.

What did you like best about this story?

The idea of the memoirs of an ex-KGB officer.

Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

Every one.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

One part made me laugh, the story involving the paintings of Politburo members and a switchboard in the Soviet embassy in Britain.

Any additional comments?

None.

16 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Nothing to see here

Narrator was good. Story true or not was not compelling. Had I been reading the book is never would have gotten through it. Never.

15 people found this helpful

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Just what I expected

Well done non-fiction. Interesting and performed perfectly. Not an "exciting thriller" but unique and steady. I enjoyed it a lot

4 people found this helpful

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Well worth the listen

Very interesting story, with great relevance to current political situation in Russia, well read and performed.

3 people found this helpful

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Fans of the cold war spy game should give it a try

The insight of a soviet spymaster is more than enlightening; he gives answers to questions western intelligence services didn't even know to ask. Although I like and read history, I tend to listen to fiction; having said that, I really enjoyed this one. If you like popular histories, and the nuts and bolts of cold war espionage, this might be the book for you.

3 people found this helpful

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Intriguing Stories

I couldn't stop listening to these stories. Spy stories are always fun, even when they are fiction. But hearing from a master spy of the Cold War era from the other side, his story being told from another spy for the CIA makes for an incredible book. At times it was almost disheartening to hear the tales of betrayal. At other times exhilarating to hear about our achievements.
Overall the story of Kondrashev was a puzzling one. It was hard to understand how he could work so hard for a regime that he felt so conflicted about. Though it was perhaps even more intriguing to hear how he slowly got caught up in the whole apparatus and finds himself with little choice but to work for the regime, and at the same time to see how he rationalizes it as being for the love of those people that were being terrorized by it.
Bronson Pinchot does a superb job with the narration catching the inflections and the voice of the text. If you like spy stories, cold war history, soviet history, or want to understand Russian culture even today, this book will be of great benefit to you.

3 people found this helpful

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good book that is well written

enjoyed this story was great to listen to and easy to understand the narrator I would recommend it

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not a Book about Spycraft

This book was not what you might be thinking. If you're looking at a behind the scenes book about spycraft, this isn't it. The author goes into almost no detail about anything. Rather, it reads more like a long essay, throwing out names and events that I personally had little to no prior knowledge about for the most part.

This feels like a book written for insiders, people who might already be intimately familiar with the machinations between the CIA and the KGB, and is simply the account of one or two men's personal knowledge about certain aspects of certain cases. But I'm afraid the lay listener is going to feel mostly lost and disinterested. With almost no actual details about any of the book's myriad characters, I found myself not really caring and just waiting for the book to end.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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The Source Is More Valuable that the Secret

The world of espionage is always fascinating. This is an account of one spy’s career from Stalin’s era to the time of Gorbashev. The story of Sergey Kondrashev, told posthumously, contains secrets he was not able to relate in his own autobiography. One of the revelations was an insight into one of the primary causes of the Korean War.

I always enjoy the sonorous voice of Bronson Pinchot. When narrating fiction I appreciate his dramatic character voices. This being a non-fiction book, we have to settle for his soothing voice, precise diction and great pacing.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Gough
  • 11-04-22

A pencil and paper needed for notes

Well researched but numerous Russian names make baffling links. However the revelations òn occasional acitivity that was familiar, ìe. Commandeŕ Crab, Prague Spring, Berlin tunnel etc are fascinating.

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  • Barry Winters
  • 09-20-22

too niche

unless you already know much of the various intrigues of the cold war, this book was far too focused for the average listener to understand the intricacies of the story. The abbreviations and various section and department acrinam were also m8nd boggling. Add to these the Russian names of the people involved and I found myself floundering often. And why is the family history of the main protagonist put at the end of the book, when it would of been a better introduction to the same at the start of the book.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph Jewell
  • 09-16-22

Poor narration

Interesting history spoiled by terrible narration, e.g. pronouncing MI 6 as M 16; far from professional reading.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Iris
  • 09-15-22

Good story line

Interesting storyline from a different perspective. Very enjoyable. Sorry it ended. Highly recommend this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Phil Crackers
  • 02-24-22

What a day to finish this story!

Today Russia became an invader. 24/2/22
This story plays out cold war years to present.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dan
  • 12-15-21

Not good enough narration

For whatever reason, a man reading a book about espionage pronounces the British Secret Intelligence Service’s name as M-16, like the rifle, rather than as MI6, as it is called. Infuriating, unforgivable lack of knowledge.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Drew
  • 09-21-21

Good for those with an existing background knowledge…

…of the Cold War & US/Russian espionage. A little hard to follow for those without but still a very well written & interesting book, even if the significance of certain events might not be clear to the beginner.

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  • Chip Henriss
  • 07-22-17

Interesting insights

This is a really good book if you are interested in the intelligence world during the Cold War. My only criticism is that the author continually points out crimes committed by the Soviet state and system but never points out his own issues that may have occurred during US and CIA crimes committed, for example, in Central America.

1 person found this helpful