Ben Macintyre, further burnishing his reputation as John le Carré’s nonfiction counterpart, recounts the story of another real-life, accomplished spy. This time his subject is Ursula Kuczynski—codename Sonya—who, over the course of a 20th-century career working for Moscow that took her from Germany to China, Poland, Switzerland, and eventually Britain, managed to elude German, British, and American authorities. Before coming in from the cold, she lived in a quiet village in the English Cotswolds with three children and a husband. Behind the facade of her picturesque life, she worked with nuclear physicist Klaus Fuchs, transmitting scientific secrets that enabled the Soviets to develop nuclear bombs
Longtime history professor David Nasaw, who has authored several acclaimed biographies, provides a deeply researched and eye-opening account of how the world managed the massive refugee crisis that emerged after World War II. The one million displaced persons who ended up stranded for several years in camps in Germany included not only Jews who had survived the Holocaust but Polish forced laborers and Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian collaborators who either refused to go home or had no homes to return to. In The Last Million, Nasaw describes how humanitarian considerations often gave way to narrow foreign policy goals and Cold War calculations, setting a pattern for what governments would do when confronted by other refugee crises in the second half of the 20th and early 21st centuries.
Four years ago, The New York Times ran a series of articles about a vast, menacing world rarely covered in the media, an offshore frontier crucial to the existence of the planet and yet one in which impunity is the norm in the face of murder, piracy, enslavement, commercial violations, and environmental offenses. The series documented a range of egregious crimes being committed on the high seas and largely going unpunished. It reported on killings of stowaways and others, sea slavery, intentional dumping, illegal fishing, gun running, and the stealing of ships. But there was more to reveal, and the author of the series, Ian Urbina, has gone on to write The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier (Knopf, $30). The book is a startling and riveting exposé that bears witness to a woefully under-protected part of the world beset by all kinds of ills but also one vital to the global economy.