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Soviet Leaders and IntelligenceSoviet Leaders and Intelligence

Assessing the American Adversary during the Cold War

Raymond Garthoff

Narrated by Will Tulin

Book published by Georgetown University Press

During the Cold War, the political leadership of the Soviet Union avidly sought intelligence about its main adversary, the United States. Although effective on an operational level, Soviet leaders and their intelligence chiefs fell short when it came to analyzing intelligence. Soviet leaders were often not receptive to intelligence that conflicted with their existing beliefs, and analysts were reluctant to put forward assessments that challenged ideological orthodoxy.

There were, however, important changes over time. Ultimately the views of an enlightened Soviet leader, Gorbachev, trumped the ideological blinders of his predecessors and the intelligence service's dedication to an endless duel with their ideologically spawned "main adversary," making it possible to end the Cold War.

Raymond Garthoff draws on over five decades of personal contact with Soviet diplomats, intelligence officers, military leaders, and scholars during his remarkable career as an analyst, senior diplomat, and historian. He also builds on previous scholarship and examines documents from Soviet and Western archives. Soviet Leaders and Intelligence offers an informed and highly readable assessment of how the Soviets understood—and misunderstood—the intentions and objectives of their Cold War adversary.

Raymond Garthoff is a senior fellow (emeritus) at the Brookings Institution and served as US ambassador to Bulgaria and as a Cold War-era CIA analyst. His many books include A Journey through the Cold War, Détente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan, and The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War.


“Mr. Garthoff is uniquely qualified for such a study.... Much of his book is based on personal conversations with Soviet officials—including intelligence officers who spoke candidly about their own service—and declassified Soviet documents.”

The Washington Times

“Raymond L. Garthoff has been the towering dean of experts on Soviet foreign policy for more than half a century. He now provides a definitive and fascinating account of how intelligence as distinct from other influences did, and more to the point often did not, shape the views of Moscow's leaders as they interacted with their American adversary.”

—Richard K. Betts, Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies, director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and director of the International Security Policy program, Columbi

“Raymond Garthoff rivals George Kennan for his public service, scholarship, and insights into the Soviet-American relationship. Drawn from his expertise and experience, Soviet Leaders and Intelligence adds to his canonical bibliography. It is informed, it is intelligent, it is intelligible. At a time when leaders in both Washington and Moscow again struggle to assess one another, this masterful book should be at the top of their—and our—reading lists.”

—Richard H. Immerman, Marvin Wachman Director, Temple University Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy

“Raymond Garthoff is unmatched in his knowledge of Soviet leaders and Soviet intelligence, and here he brings the two topics together to show that both were driven by ideological preconceptions. For better and for worse, however, the leaders generally trusted intelligence less than they did the impressions they gained from meeting American presidents. This careful analysis throws new light on the role of intelligence in the Cold War.”

—Robert Jervis, author of Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War, Columbia University

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks