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Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Aquarium by Viktor Suvorov. It is here that agents are brought to be trained, disciplined, and when necessary, broken. In shocking fashion, Suvorov recounts the first day of training when he is forced to watch a film that shows a disaffected GRU Viktor Suvorov takes us inside the Aquarium, Moscow headquarters of the GRU, the super-secret Russian military intelligence organization and rival of the KGB.
In shocking fashion, Suvorov recounts the first day of training when he is forced to watch a film that shows a disaffected GRU agent being burned alive. This is how the GRU reveals to its trainees that there is only one way out of the organization — death. Other GRU methods are as physically torturous as the viewing of that film is terrifying: electric shocks used to punish a failure of memory; being pushed off a speeding train; hand-to-hand combat with death row prisoners recruited for their viciousness.
All are employed in the training of a top agent. It is the agent's job — once he is in the field — to gather information in any way he can. No source of information is too small or too banal. Agents of the GRU are said to have attended every exhibition on the planet in the last fifty years — from exhibits of military electronics and tanks to cats and flowers, with one of their most successful missions carried out at an exhibition of Chinese goldfish.
Above all else, loyalty to the GRU is stressed. Agents are to trust no one and to be prepared to take even the life of a best friend for an act against the GRU. Gradually, Suvorov became disillusioned with the GRU, and it was when he was forced to betray one of his best friends that he made up his mind to defect. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published by HarperCollins Publishers first published More Details Original Title.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Aquarium , please sign up. Is "Inside the Aquarium" essentially the same as "Aquarium", both by V. See 1 question about Aquarium…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Apr 07, C. This was a profoundly disturbing book. Suvorov traces his career from his assignment as a lieutenant commanding a company of tanks in the Soviet 13th Army, through being promoted into military intelligence, then being picked for the Spetsnaz, and finally winding up as a GRU spy in the Soviet embassy in Vienna.
Along the way he gives us an unparalleled vista of the bankruptcy of the Soviet system. The view he gives of the GRU is instructive. It was a military intelligence organization that demande This was a profoundly disturbing book. It was a military intelligence organization that demanded the absolute loyalty and total domination of its secretive minions.
Suvorov openly admits that he loved the power and privilege he had as a member of the Nomenklatura, of which he was a part by virtue of his association with the GRU. The acquisition and exercise of power were the factors that motivated him, by his own testimony.
In the GRU, every one was being watched and everyone was watching someone else. The lives of the agents were dominated by fear of failure, fear of mistakes, and fear of exposure—but not exposure to the other side so much as exposure to the GRU itself. The agent was being tested. If he failed to make the report he would be accused of having an interest in religion subversive indeed! While Suvorov was delivering the package he was tempted to warn his friend to make the report.
As he made the drop, it dawned on Suvorov that this was as much a test for him as it was for his friend. Would he be loyal to the GRU, even though he would be condemning his friend to death, or would his friendship win out?
Suvorov survived; his friend failed to make the requisite report, and was condemned. It was a group which devoured its own. In such an organization, you quickly learned to trust no one, and to subvert all loves and loyalties to the overriding demands of the GRU. True friendship was impossible; it could get you killed.
It was a soulless system, officially and aggressively atheistic, with no moral good other than the good of the State itself, as defined by the corrupt individuals who had happened to claw their way to the top of the mountain of bodies at the moment.
I read the book as part of my research for my novel, Falcon Down , in which the GRU plays a significant part. It was a valuable exercise, and I gained much useful information. Aquarium is an interesting read, though you want to wash your hands when you put the book down.
One thing the book left me with was a renewed understanding of what the closed Soviet society became, especially for the upper class. The brutality of the Soviet system, combined with an official atheism able to offer no moral constraints, no meaning, and no hopes beyond the personal acquisition of power and privilege, nearly ruined a beautiful country and a vibrant people. One can only hope that some day Russia will come into its own as a prosperous, free, and happy country. View all 4 comments.
Apr 23, Steve Heil rated it it was ok. I can't remember anything in the book where Suvorov talks about his family. I don't think he mentions anything in the book about a wife, or kids. However, reading his Wikipedia page, it states that he was married with kids at the time of his defection, and his whole family was successfully smuggled to Britain.
Towards the end of the book, when Suvorov writes that he is being followed, then hunted, by the GRU, and decides to defect, I thought he was a bachelor. Viktor describes fleeing his apartment in the middle of the night because he is afraid of being "evacuated" by GRU agents. Where is his family in all this? Are they with Suvorov in Switzerland? If Suvorov goes into hiding for a period of time, and the GRU is out looking for him, they will certainly and immediately put his family under tight surveillance, no matter where they live.
How did he actually make his decision to defect? How did he get his family out if things actually went down the way he writes? These questions cast a doubt over the whole book - how much is true and how much is historical fiction?
View 2 comments. Sep 04, Victoria rated it it was amazing. I read it in original and have a copy that I dearly cherish. I love this book: thrilling, honest and raw at times. It is a memoir of a Russian spy who takes us down his memory lane and shares the mystery behind the GRU curtain and the price he paid for being a spy.
If you are intrigued by the mystery that is so prevalent in the western world around Russian spies, you will enjoy this book. The author now lives in exile in the UK. View 1 comment. Sep 15, Dariusz Nawojczyk rated it liked it.
The first part of the book which opens to the reader some great secrets of soviet special forces and intelligence agencies is really fascinating. The second one focuses on some psychological aspects of being a spy and definitely does not bring so much interesting details. Let's also be honest, Suvorov as a writer is rather an average one and portreting inner life of his characters is a bit boring. A thoroughly haunting and vivid collection of insights into the GRU.
Suvorov is a master of quietly inviting the reader to taste the mentality of what it takes to survive in such a vicious environment. This is not a light read, as it starts with delightful descriptions of what happens to 'traitors' - and never lets up.
A must-read for any student of recent history. Dec 19, Michael Burnam-Fink rated it really liked it Shelves: biography , , history , war.
INSIDE THE AQUARIUM: THE MAKING OF A TOP SOVIET SPY by Viktor Suvorov (Macmillan: $17.95; 256 pp.)
By Viktor Suvorov. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Several years ago he escaped to Great Britain, learned to write in English and became a successful author. In this, his fourth and best book, he illuminates life within the secret order to which he belonged. At the outset, the author is watching a training film for inductees into the G. Attendants clad in protective gray gowns gently glide a coffin between furnace fire doors into an inferno. Next the camera focuses on the handsome, sweating face of an elegantly attired man lashed by steel wires to a stretcher.
RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW
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‘Will they forgive me? No’: ex-Soviet spy Viktor Suvorov speaks out
Anyone who has lived in the Soviet Union quickly learns that life can imitate bad art. Where the ways of the system are concerned, nothing is too outrageous or absurd. The fact that this is ideally suited for a Hollywood production caricaturing the evil empire is, of itself, no reason to dismiss it as too far-fetched to be real. It was work he was well-suited for. The only yardstick is its internal credibility. I found my own feelings on that score slowly moving from skepticism to general, if far from total, acceptance.
Aquarium: The Career and Defection of a Soviet Military Spy
The book was initially released on June 1, by Hamish Hamilton. The account starts in , when Suvorov, as an ordinary tank company commander, is recruited into intelligence analysis by an up-and-coming lieutenant colonel. From there, he transfers to Spetsnaz and, from there, into the GRU proper. A combination of circumstances leads to his eventual defection to the British. The "Aquarium" of the title is the nickname given to GRU headquarters in Moscow by those who work there.