Monday, August 28, 2017

Eva Dillon's "Spies in the Family"

Eva Dillon spent twenty-five years in the magazine publishing business in New York City, including stints at Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, The New Yorker, and as president of Reader’s Digest, U.S. Dillon and her six siblings grew up moving around the world for her father's CIA assignments in Berlin, Mexico City, Rome, and New Delhi. She holds a bachelor’s in Music from Virginia Commonwealth University and lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dillon applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Spies in the Family: An American Spymaster, His Russian Crown Jewel, and the Friendship That Helped End the Cold War, and reported the following:
From page 99:
In the fall, Alexander and Petr entered the local grade school. Most of their classmates were from the neighborhood that surrounded the Officers’ House, kids whose parents worked in a nearby fabric factory or in one of the sector’s smaller industrial plants. Among the proletarian kids, Alexander and Petr stood out with their American clothes and foreign manners. Amerikanski, the two began hearing. Where do you live? When they answered “The Officer’s House,” it didn’t help.
Alexander and Petr are Soviet General Dmitri Polyakov’s sons. Shortly after volunteering to spy for the United States in 1961 while under cover at the United Nations in New York City, Polyakov, whose U.S. tour was coming to an end, returned to Moscow with his family, eventually to become America’s longest-serving, highest-ranking double agent. My father would become his handler, and together they would affect the outcome of the Cold War.

The book sets out to uncover the secret careers of both men, one representing the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) and the other the CIA, while also revealing the intimate stories of both families and their experiences as children of spies growing up on opposite sides of the Cold War. Onward from page 99, Alexander and Petr, who have lived most of their young lives (9 and 6 years, respectively) in the United States while their father was stationed there, enroll in Communist Youth Leagues in Moscow and struggle to fit in to what they know, but do not feel, is their Motherland. General Polyakov, however, despite his recent and secret offer, does not struggle with his allegiance to his country, and will pay the ultimate sacrifice for that devotion.

Over the next 17 years, Polyakov will disclose intelligence to the Americans on Soviet military planning, nuclear missiles systems, and chemical and biological weapons research. He eventually photographed thousands of pages of top-secret documents from the KGB and GRU, some, for example, detailing the American military technology their agents were directed to steal. Polyakov was key to informing the CIA on the Sino-Soviet political rift, which eventually led to President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972. And perhaps most important, Polyakov disclosed to the Americans the Soviet government’s belief that it could not prevail in a nuclear confrontation with the U.S., significantly degrading the Kremlin’s ability to threaten America and her allies, and diffusing tensions – eventually leading to disarmament talks between the superpowers.

James Woolsey, CIA Director under President Clinton, said of Polyakov after his death: “Among all the secret agents recruited by the United States during the Cold War, Polyakov was the jewel in the crown ... What General Polyakov did for the West didn’t just help us win the cold war, it kept the cold war from becoming hot.”
Learn more about Spies in the Family at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue