How the Cold War Began

“Amy Knight is one of the most meticulous and ground-breaking scholars of Soviet history, and this latest work is her best yet…a gripping spy thriller, a fascinating human story, and a magisterial history of how the victors of WWII moved from four years of Grand Alliance to forty years of Cold War.”
Simon Sebag Montefiore

How the Cold War Began | Amy Knight On September 5, 1945, Soviet cipher clerk Igor Gouzenko severed ties with his embassy in Ottawa, Canada, reporting allegations to authorities of a Soviet espionage network in North America. His defection sent shockwaves through Washington, London, and Ottawa. In her riveting narrative, Amy Knight documents how Gouzenko’s defection, and the events that followed it, triggered Cold War fears and altered the course of modern history. Knight sheds new light on the Gouzenko Affair, showing how J. Edgar Hoover hoped to discredit the Truman administration by incriminating U.S. government insiders Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White. She also probes Gouzenko’s motives for defecting and brilliantly connects these events to the strained relations between the Soviet Union and the West that marked the beginning of the Cold War.

Who Killed Kirov?

“A gripping portrait of one of the grimmest periods in modern Russian history.”
The Los Angeles Times

Who Killed Kirov?: The Kremlin's Greatest Mystery | Amy Knight The 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov, the Leningrad Communist Party chief and a rising star in Stalin’s inner circle, marked the beginning of one of the darkest periods of Russian historyAStalin’s Great Terror, in which millions of Soviet citizens were imprisoned, exiled or killed. Knight goes beyond the usual questions about the Kremlin’s greatest mystery to take a closer look at the people and events that enabled Stalin to not only authorize the murder of a respected colleague but also to repeat the tactic without any kind of personal repercussion. Knight expertly unravels the layers of the Kirov coverup in which newly empowered party and police officials found themselves compelled to discard fact for fiction in a vain attempt to escape the ubiquitous brand of “traitor” or “collaborator.”

Spies without Cloaks

“This is easily the best book on the former KGB to appear since the end of the Cold War. Knight is a formidable researcher with an excellent reputation, which this work does everything to confirm.”
The Sunday Times (London)

Spies without Cloaks | Amy Knight This book offers a compelling and comprehensive account of what happened to the KGB when the Soviet Union collapsed and the world’s most powerful and dangerous secret police organization was uncloaked. As Amy Knight shows, the KGB was renamed and reorganized several times after it was officially disbanded in December 1991–but it was not reformed. Knight’s rich and lively narrative begins with the aborted August 1991 coup, led by KGB hard-liners, and takes us through the summer of 1995, when the Russian parliamentary elections were looming on the horizon. The failed coup attempt was a setback for the KGB because it led to demands from Russian democrats for a complete overhaul of the security services. As a result, the KGB’s leaders were fired, its staff reduced, and its functions dispersed among several agencies. Even the elite foreign intelligence service was subjected to budget cuts. But President Yeltsin was reluctant to press on with reforms of the security services, because he needed their support in his struggle against mounting political opposition. Indeed, by the spring of 1995, the security services had regained much of what they had lost in the wake of the August coup. Some observers were even saying that they had acquired more power and influence than the old KGB.

Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant

“This first full-scale scholarly biography of the clever, cruel, domineering security chief whom Stalin once called ‘my Himmler’ casts valuable new light on various events of the Stalin period and its early aftermath.”
Robert Tucker, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant | Amy Knight This is the first comprehensive biography of Lavrentii Beria, Stalin’s notorious police chief and for many years his most powerful lieutenant. Beria has long symbolized all the evils of Stalinism, haunting the public imagination both in the West and in the former Soviet Union. Yet because his political opponents expunged his name from public memory after his dramatic arrest and execution in 1953, little has been previously published about his long and tumultuous career.

The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union

“A well informed and sober history of the security police as a political institution.”
The New York Times Book Review

The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union | Amy Knight From The Library Journal:
Recent interest in the Soviet Union has spawned a plethora of works on the KGB and its nefarious activities, but a shortage of unbiased scholarship remains. Knight, a Soviet affairs specialist, examines the KGB’s origins and evolution, structure, and functions to describe and analyze “the KGB as a political institution.” Serious students will value the extensive references to Russian and Western sources, detailed information on the background of KGB cadres, and absence of polemic.