BOOKS: COLD WAR CONFIDENTIAL

ANATOLY DOBRYNIN, THE U.S.S.R.'S MAN IN WASHINGTON FOR A QUARTER-CENTURY, SPILLS SOME COLD-WAR SECRETS IN HIS MEMOIRS

His father was a plumber, his mother an usher in a Moscow theater. He was an aircraft-design engineer in 1944, when Stalin ordered Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov to start recruiting technicians rather than intellectuals and independent thinkers to staff the U.S.S.R.'s postwar diplomatic corps. From such implausible roots, Anatoly Dobrynin rose to become ambassador to the U.S. for five Soviet leaders and interlocutor for six U.S. Presidents--Kennedy to Reagan.

From 1962, when Nikita Khrushchev sent him to Washington, until 1986, when Mikhail Gorbachev brought him home, the warm, wary and perceptive Dobrynin saw the cold war from an extraordinary vantage point:...

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