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22 September 2018


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The Lost Spy

In 1947, Stalin had an American in his employ, Isaiah “Cy” Oggins, murdered by lethal injection...

In 1947, Stalin had an American in his employ, Isaiah “Cy” Oggins, murdered by lethal injection just as he was finishing his eight-year sentence at the notorious Norilsk labor camp.

Oggins had, along with his wife, been a Soviet spy since the 1920s, traveling the world, spying on exiled Romanovs, Germans and Japanese. Clearly, he knew too much, and it is a wonder that Stalin let him survive so long.

The thread of Oggin’s case was first publicly revealed in 1992, when then President Boris Yeltsin handed over a previously secret file to the U.S., in a flourish of post-Cold War good feeling. Author Andrew Meier seized on this thread and unraveled a fascinating tale of pre-war espionage. It is a story Meier tells extremely well, particularly by weaving it together with an account of his investigative work, so that you feel as if you are uncovering the tale for the first time along with him. In the end, one almost comes to understand these fervent intellectuals, who joined the communist cause to root out injustice, but ended up participating in murders and sabotage, corrupted and blinded by their idealism. Almost.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: Sep/Oct 2009