Bill Harvey is the type of character rarely found in fiction—he is that much larger than life—but in Mr. Vogel’s sure hands he becomes plausible and oddly compelling ... This alone might have made for an interesting book, but Mr. Vogel has cleverly combined this story with the life of the man who betrayed this secret to the Russians: the SIS officer, KGB agent and yoga enthusiast George Blake. Although there are other books on Blake, Mr. Vogel’s handling of his tale is original and rewarding ... Meticulously researched and full of vivid detail, Betrayal in Berlin is especially good on the conundrum faced by Blake’s KGB handlers about when and how to reveal the existence of the Anglo-American tunnel.
...[a] well-researched and readable account ... Blake’s story has been told before, as has the [Berlin] tunnel’s, but Steve Vogel pulls them together accessibly and comprehensibly, along with the wider political context and entertaining detail about personalities of the period (Khrushchev blundering into Lady Eden’s room at Chequers, for example). He also answers the key question: why did the KGB allow the tunnel to operate for so long before ‘discovering’ and closing it? ... Vogel convincingly refutes any suggestion that the tunnel was manipulated by the Russians to provide disinformation. The Cold War is a huge story, of which this was a small part; but it was crucial in its time and this is a very good account of it.
In marvelous widescreen style, cross-cutting from Berlin to Washington to London, author Vogel gives us a virtually month-by-month account of the tunnel’s excavation and operation. His scrupulously detailed account never fails to keep the reader engaged, most notably in the inter-governmental runup to the mission and, later, in the oil-and-water interplay among the officials responsible for its construction and operation ... Vogel describes goings-on across the border in East Berlin in similarly gripping detail, thanks to subsequent memoirs from many of the principals on the other side ... a hefty read indeed. The book’s sheer length and detail may put off some readers, but for those intrigued by the clandestine probes and countermeasures at the flashpoints of Cold War contention, it will captivate and inform ... both a thrilling account and, sadly at times, an unconsciously comic one. Decoded in the earnest spirit of its warring principals, it’s an object lesson in tunnel vision writ large.