Sleeper Agent #SaturdaySpotlight #Interview with Bestselling #Author Ann Hagedorn #SaturdayShare #Review

Sleeper Agent by Ann Hagedorn - Review and Interview on


Today we are delighted to welcome bestselling author, Ann Hagedorn, to 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn


Sleeper Agent by Ann Hagedorn brings to life the story of the undetected spy George Koval.  His life is used as a backdrop for the historical context surrounding the Manhattan Project.

Koval was born in Iowa, but due to increasing anti-Semitism grew up in Russia after his Jewish parents emigrated there. It was there he was recruited by the Soviet Army as a spy and returned to the US in 1940 to fight in the US Army.  He used his scientific background and connections to secure assignments, in which he found out about the production of plutonium and uranium as well as becoming a health physicist. After infiltrating Manhattan Project facilities in Oak Ridge Tennessee and Dayton Ohio and securing information, Koval successfully passed it on enabling the Soviets to shorten the time needed to make their own atomic bomb. Fleeing the US in 1948, Koval became a teacher at the Mendeleev Institute in Moscow.

Readers will learn how this seemingly All-American guy was able to change history by helping the Russians get the information needed to make an atomic bomb.  The story emphasizes the Soviet-American espionage and the FBI’s failure to detect a Soviet spy.


Elise Cooper:  How did you get the idea for the story?

Ann Hagedorn:  I was interviewing someone for another book and at the end of the interview he told me about a story involving my birthplace of Dayton Ohio.  There was a Soviet spy who infiltrated the Manhattan Project. Both my curiosity and skepticism pushed me forward.  

EC:  How would you describe the spy, George Koval?

AH: My goal was to delve into the psychology of a Soviet spy, the beliefs, and values.  He was able to blend well into America because he was born in Iowa.  He was a charmer, a skilled baseball shortstop, had a great memory, a ladies’ man, a joiner, scientist, and a military man.  A resilient survivor who was determined to use his expertise to help the Russian intelligence.

EC:  Why do you think he became a spy?

AH:  He thought the only “ism” to end world oppression was Communism.  Since his family lived in Russia, he might not have had a choice to become a spy and did it to protect them.  I do not think he ever became disillusioned because I read a friend and colleague’s account.  He noted in the late 1990s that Koval said, he had no regrets and was committed to Communism, science, and his family.  

EC:  He was a traitor to America?

AH: He gave the information that helped to speed up the Russian making of an atomic bomb.  Maybe he was one of those scientists who believed in parity: no nation should have complete control of a weapon like the atomic bomb.  We will never know his motivations because he is not around to be interviewed, having died in 2006. 

EC:  What is a health physicist?

AH:  He checked on the safety measures and the compositions of the different fuels at Oak Ridge. Koval uncovered several safety concerns regarding dust samples and techniques such as the toxicity of the radioactive dust.  He passed on all the information he had access to. 

EC:  What do you want readers to get out of the book?

AH:  I hope they get the feeling for who he was and why he did what he did. He had an impact on world history.  His entire life personified the Cold War battle between the American dream and a worker’s paradise.  



If you liked this article you may like to read :

An Interview with Charles Todd.

Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn

From Amazon

This “historical page-turner of the highest order” (The Wall Street Journal) tells the chilling story of an American-born Soviet spy in the atom bomb project in World War II, perfect for fans of The Americans.

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. There, 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.

There were hundreds of spies in the US during World War II, but Koval was the only Soviet military spy with security clearances in the atomic-bomb project. The ultimate sleeper agent, he was an all-American boy who had played baseball, loved Walt Whitman’s poetry, and mingled freely with fellow Americans. After the war he got away without a scratch. It is indisputable that his information landed in the right hands in Moscow. In 1949, Soviet scientists produced a bomb identical to America’s years earlier than US experts expected.

A gripping, fast-paced, and “fascinating” (Bob Shacochis, National Book Award–winning author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul) story about one undetected spy whose actions influenced history, Sleeper Agent is perfect for Ben Macintyre fans.

Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn

Book Beginnings / First Chapter First Paragraph / Tuesday Teaser!

The first Sioux residents to greet Abram Koval must have been the newsboys peddling the latest editions of Iowa dailies in a high-pitched “buy-a-paper-mister” cry while pushing across a crowded train platform. It was early May in 1910 and Abram was coming from Galveston, Texas, where he had just entered America for the first time.

Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn

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Author: Sassy Brit, Author Assistant

Founder and Owner of author personal and virtual assistant. Editor and reviewer for #altread since 2005.

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