A Real Le Carre

The tale of malevolent spymasters, intricate tradecraft and cold-eyed betrayal reads like a John le Carre novel. But The Sword and the Shield (Basic Books) has the added twist of being a work of nonfiction, and last week its publication revealed secrets about the KGB's long-secret war against the West that made headlines around the world.

In Bexleyheath, south London, an 87-year-old great-grandmother, Melita Norwood, confirmed that yes, as the book charges, she stole atomic secrets for Moscow for more than 40 years. Authorities in Western Europe and the U.S. learned that the KGB had easily intercepted revealing faxes from major...

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