Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America, by Jack Barsky


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Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America, by Jack Barsky

Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America, by Jack Barsky

Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America, by Jack Barsky

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Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America, by Jack Barsky

One decision can end everything . . . or lead to unlikely redemption.
Millions watched the CBS 60 Minutes special on Jack Barsky in 2015. Now, in this fascinating memoir, the Soviet KGB agent tells his story of gut-wrenching choices, appalling betrayals, his turbulent inner world, and the secret life he lived for years without getting caught.

On October 8, 1978, a Canadian national by the name of William Dyson stepped off a plane at O’Hare International Airport and proceeded toward Customs and Immigration.

Two days later, William Dyson ceased to exist.

The identity was a KGB forgery, used to get one of their own―a young, ambitious East German agent―into the United States.

The plan succeeded, and the spy’s new identity was born: Jack Barsky. He would work undercover for the next decade, carrying out secret operations during the Cold War years . . . until a surprising shift in his allegiance challenged everything he thought he believed.

Deep Undercover will reveal the secret life of this man without a country and tell the story no one ever expected him to tell.

  • Sales Rank: #2409 in Books
  • Brand: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Published on: 2017-03-21
  • Released on: 2017-03-21
  • Original language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.00″ h x 1.50″ w x 6.10″ l, 1.25 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 352 pages

Review
The making of “an undercover agent spying on behalf of the Soviet Union.” Born Albrecht Dittrich in 1949 in East Germany, Barsky recounts his meticulously prepared career as a KGB spy, his mission as an embedded agent in the United States, and his subsequent coming out of the cold in the late 1980s. All his life, Barsky enjoyed sterling accomplishments, from winning the prestigious Karl Marx Scholarship in 1970 to graduating to an assured career as a professor in chemistry; later, at age 40, he graduated as the valedictorian from Baruch College in New York. Early on, as a good Young Pioneer and member of the Communist Party, the stoical, determined youth vowed that if he ever got the chance, he would somehow contribute “to the destruction of the evil forces of fascism and capitalism.” That opportunity arrived with his recruitment by a KGB agent, and he agreed to give up his chemistry career in order to be trained in Russian espionage under the code name Dieter. Aside from his training in Berlin in the “rules of conspiracy,” including mastering shortwave radio and Morse code, cryptography, secret writing, photography, dead-drop operations, and surveillance detection, Barsky had to undergo rigorous instruction in English―in Moscow, no less. After two years, he was ready to embed in the West, first to Canada and then to New York, where he worked as a bike messenger while gradually acquiring the necessary documents for permanent residency. As an illegal, he assumed the identity of a certain Jack Barsky, who had died in 1955. Yet Barsky’s American life, including a job at an insurance company and a wife and child (another family had to be left in Germany), was too good to be true; when his identity was compromised, he boldly defied KBG orders to return, slipping under the radar thanks largely to the collapse of the Soviet Union. An intriguing inside look at international espionage. (Kirkus Reviews)

Review
As a double agent who worked against Russia, I thought I had heard it all. Then I heard Jack’s story. (Naveed Jamali, Former double agent and author of How to Catch a Russian Spy)

Jack’s honesty and sincerity were clear from the first time I met him. He was on a journey, and I was privileged to watch something very special unfold. Jack’s story is fascinating, and Deep Undercover tells it well. A true story of redemption and what can happen when God’s healing love breaks through our mind, heart, and relationships. (Rob Cruver, executive director, Urban Impact)

Our fascination with spies runs deep, particularly those who are under deep cover, the so-called sleeper agents. Living and operating under aliases, with elaborate background stories (called legends), they intrigue us for the double lives they live, sometimes with families―and even children. (The current popularity of FX Network’s award-winning The Americans attests to this.) But what is the truth beneath the often glamorized surface? How are they selected, trained, and dispatched to foreign countries? What are their secret assignments? Deep Undercover lifts the veil on one such case, giving us a glimpse of a secret life, showing us the price one man paid for undertaking such an assignment. Reading his intriguing story, you realize how few of us would willingly undertake such a mission―or succeed! (Peter Earnest, Executive director, International Spy Museum)

Jack Barksy’s ultimate act of courage is sharing this intimate story that sheds light on the true personal consequences of a life in espionage. Gripping and emotional, Deep Undercover peers beyond the Iron Curtain for a look into the world of a KGB officer illegally living abroad. Instead of romanticizing the life of a spy, Barsky tells his story with honesty and heart. (Joel Fields, Writer and executive producer, The Americans)

An incredible look at the astounding journey of a KGB officer in the midst of the Cold War. Heartbreaking, exciting, intriguing. An honest account of one of the most difficult careers known to man. Equal parts memoir, spycraft guide, and historical document, Deep Undercover perfectly describes the crippling insularity of the spy’s life. (Joe Weisberg, Creator, showrunner, and executive producer, The Americans)

About the Author

Jack Barsky was recruited by the KGB and spent ten years as an undercover agent in the United States. He severed his relations with the KGB in 1988 and had a corporate career in information technology. He was captured by the FBI in 1997. In 2015, 60 Minutes ran a story on his life and undercover work.

Cindy Coloma is a bestselling author who has published numerous nonfiction books and more than ten novels, including Beautiful, Song of the Brokenhearted, and The Salt Garden. She has collaborated with media personalities, political figures, and international singers and speakers.

Stephen Bowlby has worked as a professional voice actor for more than forty years. His experience spans animation, character work, commercials, and narration. He has read numerous audiobooks throughout his career, including titles by Harold Robbins, Stuart M. Kaminsky, John Sculley, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
“You must come home,” he whispered, “or else you are dead.”
By Bassocantor
DEEP UNDERCOVER is the tale of former KGB spy-turned-American patriot Jack Barsky. Of course that name is actually the name the KGB helped him get from a dead person. They arranged for a birth certificate, making it possible for Barsky to live and work in the U.S.

The author describes in detail his childhood in East Germany, academic achievement, and eventually his recruitment away from his assumed career in chemistry. It all sounded so exciting—and of course Jack was a true communist faithful.

Jack describes how he was trained in spy craft such as, Shortwave Radio/Morse code, Cryptography, and Secret Writing. He also learned about “dead-drop” operations, where he could send/receive messages to “The Center,” short for Moscow. Although Jack did well at learning English, his trainer explained that language was only part of it: “You must also learn how to think and feel like an American. Imagine living in their big houses and driving one of those huge cars. In order to be successful in the United States, you must think big. You must undergo a complete metamorphosis.” He was given a complete “legend” to memorize, so that he could fake his new identity.

In America, Jack quickly got a job as a bike messenger. He was quick at the job, and began earning money to support him. He comically started his hunt for proper identification by getting an ID card at a local museum. From there, it was a library card, and so on.

Moscow wanted their young spy to get a college degree. He did so well at college that he had to give the valedictorian address. The dean would not allow him to refuse: “The irony of a KGB agent delivering the valedictory at an American business school did not escape me.”

Jack’s true identity slowly leaked out, and Moscow sent him urgent messages to prepare to leave America. The coded message read, “PREPARE FOR URGENT DEPARTURE. WE HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE THAT YOUR COVER HAS BEEN BLOWN. YOU ARE IN SEVERE DANGER.”

Jack had a new life in American—and especially a young daughter whom he adored. He tried to ignore the summons, but Moscow would have none of it. When Jack ignored the warning, another agent warned him, “You must come home, or else you are dead.”

The author thought of a good excuse—he couldn’t leave the U.S. because he had contracted AIDS! And they fell for it: “I had succeeded in deceiving the mighty KGB.”

It was years later that the FBI finally closed in on Jack. They had spoken to the mother of the REAL Jack Barsky, and learned that the real Jack had passed away decades earlier. It was now clear to Agent Reilly that “they had their fish on the hook; but they had no idea how big that fish might be.” When finally detained by the FBI, Jack was cooperative, and the FBI was merciful. In exchange for Jack’s cooperation and intelligence, they allowed him and his family to remain in the U.S.

Barsky’s Christian conversion is actually a small, but meaningful part of the book. Jack had no intention of becoming a Christian, and told a colleague, “You may believe whatever you like, but please don’t think for one minute that you’ll make a convert out of me.” Nevertheless, he investigated the claims of Christianity, and slowly began to see the light. He recalls that it was like a seed being planted: “For the first time in my life, I was open to the possibility that Jesus Christ was not only a special human being but also God’s son , who had been crucified and had risen from the dead. You might say the door to faith was ajar.”

The author sums up his life in America this way: “No matter what challenges we face in our nation, as long as the beacon of freedom still shines, that’s where my home will be.” Reflecting on his conversion experience, Jack puts it this way: “Christ has taken away much of my pain, and I can live out my life on earth knowing that my sins, committed knowingly or unknowingly, have been forgiven by the enormity of his sacrifice. That is where I have landed. I am finally home.”

All in all, I found DEEP UNDERCOVER to be an interesting, but sometime sad read. It was a little depressing to read about the sad state of Eastern Europe after World War II. Perhaps the most interesting part was the account of the young spy trying to make his way in America without rousing suspicion.

In a nice touch, the Afterword is by the FBI agent who confronted the author, and later became friends with the former spy. The agent suggests that “our country could use more people like Jack Barsky.”

Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
If you want to relive the Cold War, this is a good book to do so with.
By Kindle Customer
Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America by Jack Barsky was received direct from the publisher. Being a child of the Cold War, I grew up hearing stories Soviet Spies in the US and how at any minute they could be activated via code word in a newspaper, a telephone call, etc. Now we have television shows that show us even more of how it could have been. This book shows how a self centered man who is also a Soviet Spy, one day has an epiphany. This change’s his outlook on America and our outlook on him. Some say the tale is sad, some say it is too late. Either way, many do not remember or were not even alive during the days described here. I say if you want to relive the Cold War, this is a good book to do so with.

4 Stars

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Awesome read
By Joe Parisi
Such a cool book, couldn’t put it down. Really makes you think.

See all 3 customer reviews…

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