Amy Knight, a Ph.D. in Russian politics and author of several books about the innards of Soviet politics and the KGB, delivers a sophisticated narrative that delves into the defection of Igor Gouzenko and the revelations that set off the Cold War.

On September 5th, 1945, Gouzenko, a cipher clerk with the Soviet Embassy who was scheduled to return to Moscow to face an uncertain future, turned over documents revealing the existence of Soviet spies within the ranks of the governments and intelligence agencies of Canada, America and Britain. The ensuing investigations – which exposed Soviet efforts to obtain the atomic bomb – indictments, trials and convictions would send Western and Russian post war relations into a tailspin.

What Knight reveals through her research of newly declassified files and interviews with key players, is a disturbing story of how rumors, even based on fact, could destroy the lives of innocent people. Civil liberties were thrown aside in the name of protecting national security and people were condemned as spies for having spoken to known Soviet agents or having entertained the ideology of Communism at one point in their lives.

The reader is left to decide the merits of the methods chosen by Canadian, American, and British authorities to hunt down, gather information, and prosecute alleged spies. Gouzenko maintained that his defection was to reveal the deception of the Soviet government, but I doubt even he had any idea the impact his defection would have on the world, on his family, on the individuals that would eventually be implicated. This is a well-researched, tightly woven account of how one man’s decision to defect rocked the world.

– by Darlene Oakley

The Middle Power Project: Canada and the Founding of the United Nations
Adam Chapnick, UBC Press, November 2005

Many Canadians regard the period following WWII has a golden age in diplomacy as the country transformed from a British dominion to a middle power, and an idealistic participant in the establishment of the United Nations. In The Middle Power Project, Adam Chapnick, a social sciences and humanities research council postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at Carleton University, delivers a critical reassessment of that view, suggesting Canada’s contribution may not have been as great as many presume.

Security and Defence in the Terrorist Era
Elinor C.Sloan, McGill-Queen’s University Press, October 2005

In an analysis of the post-9/11 threat environment, Elinor Sloan argues that Canada must give equal weight to security and defence measures at home and abroad. Security and Defence in the Terrorist Era examines US security and defence policy since the Cold War ended, space and ballistic missile defence, intelligence gathering, and changes in military personnel and equipment requirements for addressing threats overseas. Sloan emphasizes the importance of development aid and diplomacy in helping to rebuild failed states abroad, and further suggests that Canada participate in the US strategic missile defence system to avoid being denied ballistic missile early warning and space surveillance information. Sloan concludes that Canada’s military capabilities fall well short of what is necessary to guarantee security, and that changes are necessary to regain credibility and influence with the US.

Far in the Waste Sudan: On Assignment in Africa
Nicholas Coghlan, McGill-Queen’s University Press, October 2005

Nicholas Coghlan, the first Canadian diplomat to be posted to Khartoum, offers a unique and privileged view of Sudan at an epochal moment in its history. Coghlan takes the reader across the oil-rich nation, from Khartoum, former home to Carlos the Jackal and Osama bin-Laden, to the Nubian desert, the rebel-controlled swamps and jungle lowlands of Equatorial, the mountain ranges of Darfur and the forgotten national park of Dinder.