Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Stranger Than Fiction: 'The Man With the Poison Gun' Offers A Deadly Dose Of Reality

Lloyd Sachs at the Chicago Tribune offers a review of Serhii Plokhy's The Man With the Poison Gun.

"The Man With the Poison Gun," a nonfiction book that tells the unusual story of a KGB assassin during the Cold War, once might have fallen safely into the category of "stranger than fiction." But especially in light of recent events including the on-camera assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, the exploits of Bogdan Stashinsky feel eerily relevant today.
Stashinsky was a 19-year-old university student in Soviet-occupied Ukraine in 1950 when he was conscripted by Nikita Khrushchev's secret police. They knew that Stashinsky's family had ties to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which opposed the Soviet presence, and threatened to punish or kill his family members if he didn't inform on them and their friends.
After delivering the goods, Stashinsky became a paid employee of the secret police. Still telling himself he was playing ball with the Soviets to prevent harm to his family, he underwent extensive training in the espionage arts with the MGB, a precursor to the KGB (which was established in 1954). By 1957, when he received a newfangled poison gun, his self-image had undergone a serious overhaul to go with his new alias.
According to author Serhii Plokhy, a Harvard historian, Stashinsky's unusual exploits inspired Ian Fleming's 1965 James Bond novel, "The Man With the Golden Gun," which features a weapon that squirts liquid cyanide and leaves no trace. Plokhy is no Ian Fleming. His narrative skills are a bit stodgy. But this is one story that does a good job of telling itself.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

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