9780767928168

The Terminal Spy

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780767928168

  • ISBN10:

    0767928164

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-10-20
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
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Summary

In a page-turning narrative that reads like a thriller, an award-winning journalist exposes the troubling truth behind the world's first act of nuclear terrorism. On November 1, 2006, Alexander Litvinenko sipped tea in London's Millennium Hotel. Hours later the Russian emigre and former intelligence officer, who was sharply critical of Russian president Vladimir Putin, fell ill and within days was rushed to the hospital. Fatally poisoned by a rare radioactive isotope slipped into his drink, Litvinenko issued a dramatic deathbed statement accusing Putin himself of engineering his murder.Alan S. Cowell, then London Bureau Chief of theNew York Times,who covered the story from its inception, has written the definitive story of this assassination and of the profound international implications of this first act of nuclear terrorism. Who was Alexander Litvinenko? What had happened in Russia since the end of the cold war to make his life there untenable and in severe jeopardy even in England, the country that had granted him asylum? And how did he really die? The life of Alexander Litvinenko provides a riveting narrative in its own right, culminating in an event that rang alarm bells among western governments at the ease with which radioactive materials were deployed in a major Western capital to commit a unique crime. But it also evokes a wide range of other issues: Russia's lurch to authoritarianism, the return of the KGB to the Kremlin, the perils of a new cold war driven by Russia's oil riches and Vladimir Putin's thirst for power. Cowell provides a remarkable and detailed reconstruction both of how Litvinenko died and of the issues surrounding his murder. Drawing on exclusive reporting from Britain, Russia, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United States, he traces in unprecedented detail the polonium trail leading from Russia's closed nuclear cities through Moscow and Hamburg to the Millenium Hotel in central London. He provides the most detailed step-by-step explanation of how and where polonium was found; how the assassins tried on several occasions to kill Litvinenko; and how they bungled a conspiracy that may have had more targets than Litvinenko himself. With a colorful cast that includes the tycoons, spies, and killers who surrounded Litvinenko in the roller-coaster Russia of the 1990s, as well as the emigres who flocked to London in such numbers that the British capital earned the sobriquet "Londongrad," this book lays out the events that allowed an accused killer to escape prosecution in a delicate diplomatic minuet that helped save face for the authorities in London and Moscow. A masterful work of investigative reporting,The Terminal Spyoffers unprecedented insight into one of the most chilling true stories of our time.

Author Biography

Alan S. Cowell was the London bureau chief of the New York Times when the events narrated in this book reached their climax. Previously, Cowell served as a correspondent for Reuters and the New York Times in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He has been based in twelve capitals and reported the news from around ninety countries and territories. Cowell is married and has three children. He is now based in Paris. 

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
Dramatis Personaep. xi
Prologuep. 1
Broken Homes, Broken Empirep. 17
Poor Man, Rich Manp. 39
Acolytesp. 66
Renegadep. 81
War Storiesp. 96
From Russia With Stealthp. 122
Silovikip. 146
Giled Exilesp. 190
Crown Protection?p. 217
A Rolodex To Die forp. 235
Poison and PRp. 260
Invisible Assassinp. 292
The Polonium Trailp. 324
Hit Men Or Fall Guys?p. 374
Putin's Doppelgängerp. 392
Epiloguep. 422
Acknowledgmentsp. 425
Notes and Sourcesp. 427
Select Bibliographyp. 431
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

1
Broken homes, broken empire
Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was born on December 4, 1962, in a hospital in Voronezh, 300 miles south of Moscow, a university town where his father was a medical student specializing in pediatrics. He arrived one month before term. He weighed 2.4 kilograms, around six pounds. His mother, Nina, remembered a difficult birth. She fretted he might not survive. Then a woman in another bed in her ward at the Soviet-era hospital told her that all eight month babies became famous--an adage that noone would deny in Litvinenko's case, though not in the manner his mother would have forecast or preferred. Even so, who could have imagined that a child of the U.S.S.R would secure renown in such a bizarre manner, so far from home?
In 1962, Nikita Krushchev was in power in Moscow and the Soviet empire spanned a half a globe, from central Asia to the Baltic and the Pacific, its satellite states patrolling the line that divided Europe. The Soviets had been the first to put a man in space--Yuri Gargarin--in 1961, a huge propaganda victory over the United States, challenging Americans with the shocking implication that communism, progress and technology were not incompatible. This sprawling, secretive empire was not shy of confronting American power. Litvinenko was born in the year of the Cuban missile crisis that pushed the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. True, Krushchev had offered a kind of liberalization after the death of Josef Stalin, permitting the publication of the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and famously decrying the Stalinist cult of the individual. But Krushchev also led a muscular drive to cement Soviet influence. He approved the crushing of the Hungarian revolt in 1956, the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. And at home, the state's writ ran unchallenged, its power exercized through the taut sinews of the K.G.B. and other internal forces created to forestall dissent. Soviet troops occupied garrisons across Eastern Europe. Soviet spies tunneled into the Western political establishment. When Alexander Litvinenko was born, the Cold War was decades away from any thaw and the Soviet Union was years from collapse. None of that brought direct comfort to ordinary citizens struggling to meet ends meet, find an apartment, a telephone line, a car, a television set. The economy ran to order, according to the principles of scientific socialism. Save for the elite, and those with scarce American dollars or British pounds to finance themselves, there was no abundance. The output from the collectivized farms failed to keep pace with the growing population. The harvests were often poor. The shelves in the roubles-only food stores were never full, usually empty. Lines formed. In grim concrete apartment houses, ordered up by Krushchev himself to ease a dire shortage of dwellings in post-war Russia, communal heating failed and sputtered. The Russian winter had no mercy.

Litvinenko's life spanned his land's liberation and emasculation--from oppressive superpower to something far less than that, yet something far more than an ordinary nation; a diminished land that dreamed of glory revived. He was a child of history.
"We lived in a small room in a hostel in Voronezh," Nina Belyavskaya, Litvinenko's mother, recalled in an interview, sitting in the same two-bedroom apartment outside Moscow where her son spent some of his early years, while his father moved on to the northern Caucasus and Russia's Far East.

"We went hungry and cold because there was no food in the shops, no meat in Russia at the time. We used to buy bones."

When she spoke in the summer of 2007, Nina Belyavskaya was 67 years old, a frazzled, faded blonde living on the margins of Russian life, remote from the glitzy ostentation of downtown Moscow with its high-end imported cars and smart eateries. She tended a makeshift shrine to her lost son with a photograph an

Excerpted from The Terminal Spy: After sipping tea in a London hotel, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer and vocal foe of the Kremlin, fell ill and was rushed to the hospital, Fatally by Alan Cowell
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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