Skip to Main Content

Sleeper Agent

The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away

LIST PRICE $24.99
PRICE MAY VARY BY RETAILER
See More Retailers

This “historical page-turner of the highest order” (The Wall Street Journal) tells the chilling story of an American-born Soviet spy in the atom bomb project in World War II, perfect for fans of The Americans.

George Koval was born in Iowa. In 1932, his parents, Russian Jews who had emigrated because of anti-Semitism, decided to return home to live out their socialist ideals. George, who was as committed to socialism as they were, went with them. There, he was recruited by the Soviet Army as a spy and returned to the US in 1940. A gifted science student, he enrolled at Columbia University, where he knew scientists soon to join the Manhattan Project, America’s atom bomb program. After being drafted into the US Army, George used his scientific background and connections to secure an assignment at a site where plutonium and uranium were produced to fuel the atom bomb. There, and later in a second top-secret location, he had full access to all facilities, and he passed highly sensitive information to Moscow.

There were hundreds of spies in the US during World War II, but Koval was the only Soviet military spy with security clearances in the atomic-bomb project. The ultimate sleeper agent, he was an all-American boy who had played baseball, loved Walt Whitman’s poetry, and mingled freely with fellow Americans. After the war he got away without a scratch. It is indisputable that his information landed in the right hands in Moscow. In 1949, Soviet scientists produced a bomb identical to America’s years earlier than US experts expected.

A gripping, fast-paced, and “fascinating” (Bob Shacochis, National Book Award–winning author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul) story about one undetected spy whose actions influenced history, Sleeper Agent is perfect for Ben Macintyre fans.

Photograph by Pat Williamsen

Ann Hagedorn has been a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and has taught writing at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is the author of Wild Ride, RansomBeyond the River, Savage Peace, Invisible Soldiers, and Sleeper Agent.

More books from this author: Ann Hagedorn