Widow Spy – The Book
The Widow Spy is my very personal story of the two men in my life who were heroes. The first was my husband John, who was a CIA officer. I accompanied him on our first overseas assignment in a small city in Laos, where he conducted paramilitary operations. The Lao soldiers he trained and deployed fought hard to contain the North Vietnamese Army as it proceeded through the jungles of Laos on the Ho Chi Minh trail en route to South Vietnam to fight against the US military. John was among the few highly motivated CIA officers assigned to contain this huge movement of NVA troops. In the end, John was killed in a helicopter crash.
The story of The Widow Spy continues with my joining the CIA and becoming one of the first women operations officers ever assigned to Moscow in the mid-70s. I detail the challenges of working covertly for nearly two years in Moscow, facing the potential of being discovered by the KGB as I moved through the city, placing dead drops and recovering secret packages from our agent TRIGON, my second hero. In the end, I was ambushed and arrested by the KGB
Estimations of TRIGON’s value to the US government always amaze me. He is often compared to Penkovsky because of the number of secret documents passed in dead-drops to us. These documents revealed the Soviet government’s plans and intentions in influencing world events and the negotiating positions of Soviet government officials in talks with the US and its allies.
This memoir contains actual descriptions of operational acts and real life within the enemy’s camp (Moscow). What it is not? A book about Washington politics with allegations of the misuse of intelligence or the outing of CIA officers. The many memoirs by insiders/outsiders who are “revealing all” are generally written by those who have not had the actual experiences in the field.
The Widow Spy contains some shocking first-ever revealed details about TRIGON. These details were reviewed for classified information by the CIA, and none were blacked out. The Widow Spy will set the record straight. Other versions that have been published were taken from the Soviet’s story about TRIGON publicized in June 1978 in the Soviet newspaper “Izvestia”. In fact today’s Russian intelligence service, the SVR – formerly the KGB – will probably find much new information in this book, facets of the operation that they never were able to learn from their investigation or brief interrogation of TRIGON.
For history readers, this book provides unique insights into the intelligence advantage the US had over the USSR. To human interest readers, this personal account of the covert life as a female spy in Moscow is highly detailed and an intimate story. To those interested in women firsts, this book reveals the CIA’s treatment of women operations officers during that era.
The pictures in the book include those taken by Soviet photographers when I was arrested and then interrogated. Among the photos from my scrapbook are those of US visitors taken to see first hand the arrest site in Moscow, among them Robert DeNiro. Pictures taken inside the KGB museum include sketches of the drop sites and spy gear taken from TRIGON and me.
I have spoken in many different forums, among them the International Spy Museum, the FBI academy, and the CIA to its new recruits. The story is intriguing and compelling. My experiences elicit endless questions and amazement by audiences who are interested in the inner workings and the details of conducting covert spy activities.
The Widow Spy reveals one woman’s journey in the company of two authentic heroes.