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How Adolf Tolkachev Became a CIA Spy in the Soviet Union

How Adolf Tolkachev Became a CIA Spy in the Soviet Union The Atlantic


His family and friends called him Adik. His eyes were the color of ash, under a broad forehead and thick brown hair, with a crook in the bridge of his nose from a boyhood hockey accident. He stood about five feet six inches tall. Adolf Tolkachev seemed a quiet fellow to those who knew him. He was so reserved that he never told his son what he did at work, in a Soviet military-design laboratory where he specialized in airborne radar.

But his mind was not at ease. He was haunted by a dark chapter of Soviet history, and he wanted revenge.

His anger drove him to become the most successful and valued agent the CIA had run inside the Soviet Union in two decades. The documents and draw­ings he passed to the United States in the early 1980s unlocked the secrets of Soviet radar and revealed sensitive plans for research on weapons systems a decade into the future. His espionage put the United States in position to dominate the skies in aerial combat and confirmed the vulnerability of Soviet air defenses—that American cruise missiles and bombers could fly under the radar.

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Astounding how much difference one person can make. 

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