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Sawatsky, John.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1984. 316pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-7715-9812-2. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by J.D. Ingram

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

When Igor Gouzenko died in Canada at the age of sixty-three in June, 1982, it was some days before the news of his death became public. For most Canadians, Gouzenko was a name without a face. Some argue that, when this Soviet cipher clerk defected and turned over secret documents to Canadian authorities in 1945, the Cold War really began.

John Sawatsky attempts to reveal, "the first inside look at this fascinating enigma," in a book that records interviews with a wide variety of people who had some connection with this historical figure.

Why did Gouzenko defect? Some of those interviewed suggest it was for money and/or the good life rather than for ideological reasons. The story, revealed through the technique of oral history, ranges from the bizarre to the remarkable.

Some of these accounts are from people who had little to do with Gouzenko, and others are from those who spent more time with him during a limited period over the years 1945 to 1982. Although they may not all have been intimate associates, their different opinions do present a composite picture of the man.

Despite the sequence of interview upon interview, for those interested in Gouzenko and/or espionage, the book is readable and informative.

Sir William Stephenson is quoted as saying Gouzenko is "the most important defector of all the escapees from Soviet tyranny." To Jack Granatstein, Gouzenko's biggest revelation was, "the fact that civil servants on a fairly broad scale were breaking their oaths and clandestinely supplying information to the Soviet Union."

I am surprised Sawatsky includes no interviews or references to Chapman Pincher and his books. Pincher's new book, Too Secret Too Long, discusses at length Gouzenko's action and the interview of Gouzenko by Sir Roger Hollis of M15 in 1946. Pincher reasserts that Hollis was a mole for the Soviets who downplayed the importance of Gouzenko's information.

Sawatsky's book does add some dimension to the figure of Gouzenko, to date Canada's most famous catch in the spy game.

J.D. Ingram, Gordon Bell H.S., Winnipeg, Man.
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