Essay about Elizabeth Bentley And The Spy

Essay about Elizabeth Bentley And The Spy

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Elizabeth Bentley was born in Connecticut in 1907, raised by Republican, Episcopalian parents, who passed away prematurely before 1925. She attended Vassar on a full scholarship, did postgraduate work at Columbia University, and had a graduate fellowship at University of Florence. Despite being a seemingly normal American young woman, she was intrigued by Communism and ultimately joined the Soviet Union as a spy. Elizabeth Bentley has an intriguing story, examined in great detail by both Kathryn Olmstead and Lauren Kessler in Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley and Clever Girl: Elizabeth Bentley, the Spy Who Ushered in The McCarthy Era, respectively. An important point to understand about Bentley is that she had a tendency to mislead and exaggerate combined with alcoholism, which adds difficulty in understanding her story, her motivations, and her choices. The authors of both books mentioned above, as well as official documents from the FBI and CIA provide real insight into what really happened with Elizabeth Bentley and how she went from a student at Vassar University, to one of the most valuable Soviet spies, to, ultimately, one of the most valuable informants for the FBI during the Cold War and their fight against Communism and Soviet espionage.
Bentley originally claimed that her undergraduate teachers had drawn her to Anti-Americanism and Communism. However, Olmstead reveals the falsity of this claim, showing that Bentley’s several trips to Europe, particularly Italy, that swayed her towards Fascism, and then Anti-fascism . Bentley was described by her classmates as a social misfit, plain-faced, unusually tall (over 5’9”), and lonely. While in Italy, she was able to shed her New England, Republican upbringing. ...


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...-aggressive campaign to hurt the people who had hurt her” (pg 69) . She maintained a front of compliance, but was actually doing all that she could to derail Soviet efforts. “As the end of WWII and its grand alliance approached, one of the top Soviet agents in the US was an unstable, alienated, mendacious American who drank too much and was doing all she could to sabotage her own agent network ” (pg 72).
During this campaign of both self-destruction and revenge, Bentley connected with Anatoly Gorsky (Gromov), chief of NKGB operation in the US and first secretary at the Soviet embassy. Through both bribery and threats, Gromov severed Bentley’s ties to her network and pushed her out of her well-paying position at US Service and Shipping Corporation. She made drunken threats to go to the US government with her information, although, no one believed she actually would.

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