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The Roundtable

The Atomic Spy In America Who Got Away

book cover for "Sleeper agent"
Simon & Schuster
/
simonandschuster.com

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. It was there that 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.

His story is told in the new book "Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy In America Who Got Away."

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. Her previous books are "Wild Ride," "Ransom," "Beyond the River," and "Savage Peace."

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