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Of Spies and Spokesmen: My Life as a Cold War Correspondent
by Nicholas Daniloff
University of Missouri Press, 2008
Cloth: 978-0-8262-1793-6 | Paper: 978-0-8262-1804-9 | eISBN: 978-0-8262-6630-9
Library of Congress Classification PN4874.D353A3 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 070.4/332092


An American reporter of Russian heritage assigned to Soviet-era Moscow might seem to have an edge on his colleagues, but when he’s falsely accused of spying, any advantage quickly evaporates. . . . .           

As a young UPI correspondent in Moscow during the early 1960s, Nicholas Daniloff hoped to jump-start his career in his father’s homeland, but he soon learned that the Cold War had its own rules of engagement. In this riveting memoir, he describes the reality of journalism behind the Iron Curtain: how Western reporters banded together to thwart Soviet propagandists, how their “official sources” were almost always controlled by the KGB—and how those sources would sometimes try to turn newsmen into collaborators.

Leaving Moscow for Washington in 1965, Daniloff honed his skills at the State Department, then returned to Moscow in 1981 to find a more open society. But when the FBI nabbed a Soviet agent in 1986, Daniloff was arrested in retaliation and thrown into prison as a spy—an incident that threatened to undo the Reykjavik summit until top aides to Reagan and Gorbachev worked out a solution.

In addition to recounting a career in the thick of international intrigue, Of Spies and Spokesmen is brimming with inside information about historic events. Daniloff tells how the news media played a crucial role in resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis, recalls the emotional impact of the JFK assassination on Soviet leadership, and describes the behind-the-scenes struggles that catapulted Mikhail Gorbachev to power. He even shares facts not told to the public: how the SAC would warn Moscow that its submarines were too close to American shores, why the Soviets shot down the KAL airliner without visual identification, and how American reporters in Moscow sometimes did dangerous favors for our government that could easily have been mistaken for espionage.

Daniloff sheds light not only on prominent figures such as Nikita Khrushchev and Henry Kissinger but also on suspected spies Frederick Barghoorn, John Downey, and ABC correspondent Sam Jaffe—unfairly branded a Soviet agent by the FBI. In addition, he assesses the performance of Henry Shapiro, dean of American journalists in Moscow, whose forty years in the adversary’s capital often provoke questions about his role and reputation.

 In describing how the Western press functioned in the old Soviet Union—and how it still functions in Washington today—Daniloff shows that the Soviet Russia he came to know was far more complex than the “evil empire” painted by Ronald Reagan: a web of propaganda and manipulation, to be sure, but also a place of hospitality and friendship. And with Russia still finding its way toward a new social and political order, he reminds us that seventy years of Communist rule left a deep impression on its national psyche. As readable as it is eye-opening, Of Spies and Spokesmenprovides a new look at that country’s heritage—and at the practice of journalism in times of crisis. 

Nicholas Daniloff is Professor of Journalism at Northeastern University. His previous books include The Kremlin and the Cosmos and Two Lives, One Russia. He lives in Andover, Vermont, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    Preface ix
    Acknowledgments xi
    Chapter 1. A Peck of Trouble 1
    How I was arrested in Moscow, charged with spying, in retaliation for the arrest of a Soviet physicist in New York.
    Chapter 2. Serge 00
    My Russian father, his escape from the Russian Revolution, his crazy notions and unworkable advice to his American son.
    Chapter 3. Russia in My Life 00
    Our trilingual family and how my Russian grandmother hooked me on Russia, especially after my mother's sudden death.
    Chapter 4. Cards I Was Dealt 00
    Rejected by the U.S. Navy and Foreign Service, I became the lowest of the copyboys at the Washington Post in 1956. A chance comment pushed me to be come a Cold War correspondent.
    Chapter 5. The Magic Dateline 00
    I go to work for United Press International in London, 1959-1960, hope to jump-start a career in foreign reporting by winning an assignment in Moscow, the Magic Dateline.
    Chapter 6. London, Paris, Geneva 00
    UPI was "the worst company to work for but had a policy of hiring only the nicest people." I work in London and Paris and become the manager of UPI Geneva at the tender age of twenty-six.
    Chapter 7. Genri 00
    Assigned to Moscow in 1961, my boss was the legendary Henry Shapiro, who reported from Moscow for forty years, and knew the Soviet system inside-out.
    Chapter 8. Henry's Bureau 00
    How Shapiro ran the Moscow Bureau during the Cold War and the compromises he made that sometimes hurt his reputation.
    Chapter 9. The Cuban Crisis of 1962 00
    On the brink of Armageddon and how the news media--the wire services and the television networks--played a crucial role in resolving the superpower confrontation.
    Chapter 10. The Paradox of Censorship 00
    Rigid Soviet censorship shaped Soviet mentality and contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union by robbing media of credibility and spreading distrust.
    Chapter 11. Life and Death in 1963 00
    Ruth's "experiment baby" and the emotional impact of Kennedy's assassination on the Soviet leadership and people.
    Chapter 12. The Mystery of Mr. Khrushchev 00
    The palace coup against Nikita Khrushchev and how the removal of a portrait from Red Square led to our breaking the story of his dismissal.
    Chapter 13. Something Rotten 00
    Successes in space made the Soviet Union look like a giant but actually covered up something rotten in the state of Russia.
    Chapter 14. Whose Side Are You On? 00
    Assigned to cover the U.S. State Department in 1967, I mastered the reporter-diplomat relationship and digested Secretary of State Dean Rusk's secret tirade against media in times of war.
    Chapter 15. Dancing with Spooks 00
    How ties with American and Soviet intelligence agencies ruined the career of my friend Sam Jaffe, a leading ABC correspondent in Moscow and Hong Kong.
    Chapter 16. America, 1970 00
    Inside a Soviet delegation, I guide influential Russian journalists around the United States and into the heart of the Nixon administration to meet Henry Kissinger and other top officials.
    Chapter 17. Good Snoop, Good Gossip 00
    Details of the failed mission and Chinese imprisonment of CIA men Downey and Fecteau in 1950 when I was a journalism fellow at Harvard University in 1974.
    Chapter 18. Au Revoir 00
    Covering President Nixon's resignation, August 1974, and its astonishing similarity to Khrushchev's overthrow.
    Chapter 19. Adventures with Kissinger 00
    Traveling with the extraordinary secretary of state, 1974-1977, and the downside of Nixon's "détente" with the Soviet Union.
    Chapter 20. The Devil's Details 00
    Covering Congress: how political opponents worked to undermine White House foreign policies, 1974-1979.
    Chapter 21. The Rogue Elephant 00
    The CIA out of control and the drama of Project Jennifer--raising a sunken Soviet submarine three miles deep in the Pacific Ocean.
    Chapter 22. Infamous Zone 00
    How the United States liquidated the Panama Canal Zone by handing the waterway over to Panama in 1978 despite the protests of Ronald Reagan and other conservatives.
    Chapter 23. War Machines 00
    My military education in 1979: reporter, family historian, and my grandfather's role in Russia's separate peace of 1918.
    Chapter 24. Russia in 1981 00
    Returning to Russia as bureau chief of U.S. News and World Report I found a society in decline but whose collapse no one was smart enough to predict.
    Chapter 25. The KAL Shoot-Down 00
    What really happened in the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airliner KE 007 and how the Soviet leadership dissembled, lied, and prevaricated in an effort to deflect blame.
    Chapter 26. Blogging before Blogs 00
    The death of Yuri Andropov and the emergence of a sick leader for a sick society, Konstantin Chernenko.
    Chapter 27. Dangerous Favors 00
    Mainstream U.S. correspondents sometimes did favors--dangerous favors--for the American government and how one correspondent delivered precious materials to the CIA on Soviet nuclear warheads.
    Chapter 28. Gorby for Real? 00
    The behind-the-scenes struggles that catapulted Gorbachev to power were actually close-run things.
    Chapter 29. Chernobyl 00
    How the explosion at the Chernobyl power station pushed the Soviet Union toward greater openness and weakened further the Soviet system.
    Chapter 30: Links in a Chain 00
    The search for my conspiratorial Russian ancestor leads me to uncover the tragic fate of my Russian relatives after the revolution of 1917.
    Chapter 31. The Gulag's Vestibule 00
    Life in a Soviet prison and Gorbachev's final admission that "the Daniloff affair" was really just one of the last Cold War "tit-for-tats."
    Chapter 32. A Story to Tell 00
    Leaving active journalism, I become a university professor and get involved in Chechnya's struggle for independence from Russia.
    Afterword 00
    Notes 00
    Index 00

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