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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

The KGB Agent Who Lived Incognito in New York for 10 Years That Was Exchanged at the Bridge of Spies

00:00 29:43
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Rudolf Ivanovich Abel was one of the most integral agents of the KBG, the Soviet Union’s most renowned spy network during the Cold War of the 1950s. He may have infiltrated Los Alamos labs and fed critical intelligence back to Moscow through the use of cloak-and-dagger techniques like sneaking microfilm in hollowed- out coins and dropping bundles of cash at lamppost hideaways. He kept it up until his cover was blown by an incompetent colleague who wanted to defect to the United States. This lead resulted in a frenzied search by the FBI to discover the identity and whereabouts of the spymaster. The month long stake out of his hotel in Manhattan leading to his eventual arrest and transfer to a Texas deportation facility where he was put under extensive interrogation. His three-month trial and guilty verdict for violating U.S. espionage laws resulted in 30 years in prison rather than the electric chair. The exchange for his freedom several years later involved the American Spy Francis Gary Powers. To discuss this story is today’s guest Cecil Kuhne, a prominent litigator, who has long been interested in the world of Cold War. He is the author of KGB Man: The Cold War’s Most Notorious Soviet Agent and the First to be Exchanged at the Bridge of Spies.
March 09, 2023
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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