Arts and Culture

The author of a new book about a Cold War spy operation will speak in Louisville on Thursday evening.

David Hoffman is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and contributing editor for The Washington Post. His new book, “The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal” tells the story of Adolf Tolkachev, who copied secret Soviet documents and gave them to the CIA from 1979 to 1985. Tolkachev was arrested by the KGB in 1985 and was later executed.

Hoffman was the bureau chief for the Washington Post from 1995 to 2001. He came across Tolkachev’s story while writing a previous book, “The Dead Hand,” about the end of the Cold War. Hoffman spent years obtaining secret CIA documents related to the Tolkachev case and conducting interviews with the people involved.

He said Tolkachev insisted on meeting his case officers in person, taking huge risks in the process.

“It was a very, very difficult and dangerous time to be a spy. The KGB were everywhere on the streets of Moscow, and this was a case where the CIA ran an agent by meeting him in parks and on street corners, right under the nose of the KGB,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said the information that Tolkachev funneled to the U.S. turned out to be incredibly valuable, and highly damaging to the Soviet Union.

“He was so determined that he photographed thousands and thousands of pages,” Hoffman said. “Most importantly, he told the CIA what was on the drawing boards of Soviet military research and development, not just now, but 10 years into the future.”

David Hoffman speaks at the Main Library on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. The event is free, but tickets are required.

 

Tara Anderson is a writer, host, and audio producer.