A sailor, artist, lawyer and writer, fluent in many languages, Dmitri Bystrolyotov was one of a team of outstanding Soviet spies operating in Western countries between the World Wars. He was a dashing man whose modus operandi was the seduction of women among them French embassy staff, the wife of a British official and Gestapo officers. He stole military secrets from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and enabled Stalin to look into the diplomatic pouches of many European countries. Idealistically committed to the Motherland, he showed extraordinary courage and physical prowess twice crossing the Sahara Desert and the jungles of the Congo. But in 1938, at the height of Stalins purges, Dmitri was arrested and tortured. Sentenced to twenty years of hard labour in the Gulag, he risked more severe punishment by documenting the regimes crimes against humanity. Yet he survived the repression and came to realise the true nature of the ideology he had once served unquestioningly.
Emil Draitser is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. In 1974, he immigrated to the United States, where he has been a professor of Russian at Hunter College in New York City since 1986. In addition to his twelve books, Draitser has published essays and short stories in the Los Angeles Times.