Books In Brief March 2019

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CHEKA: The History, Organization and Awards of the Russian Secret Police & Intelligence Services, 1917-2017, by by Robert S. Pandis, USNR (Ret.). ISBN: 978-1-5323-4940-9, Imperial House Antiques, St. Petersburg, FL 33706;; Hardcover, 428 pp, fully illustrated in color, 2017, $95.00)

On December 20, 1917, the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee (PVRK) published an announcement calling for its dissolution and the creation of an all-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabatog — the V.Ch.K. (VCheka or “CHEKA”). In 2011, Robert Pandis broke new ground when he published a soft cover, 100-page volume entitled, CHEKA: Soviet Secret Police Awards, 1917-1995. It had only been a few years since early Chekist awards became available to the average collector, and this early volume helped collectors navigate secrecy of the organization to understand the award documents and medals that it issued.

Now, a century after the creation of the CHEKA, Pandis has released a new volume that has greatly expanded the mission of his earlier book. Together with the awards, this new, sumptuous hardcover volume details the history of all of the various secret police and intelligence services through the end of the Soviet Union and up through the current Russian Federal Security Service Organization (FSB) and Foreign Intelligences Service (SVR).

Filled with all new information and in English, the 428-page volume is fully illustrated in color. The author has carefully photographed the fronts and backs of awards, detailed information contained in accompanying documents, and expanded the histories of the people to whom the medals were awarded.The study covers the Russian GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD, MOOP, KGB, PGU, FSB, SVR, GRU, Border Guard, and their Vheka.

Collectors will greatly appreciatePandis’ explanation of back-plater maker marks, mint marks, and captions that contain both measurements and weights of each medal or badge. Pandis has made the rare combination of the eye of an astute collector with the attention-to-detail of a professional researcher.

Anyone with an interest in the secret services of Russian and the former Soviet Union will find it hard to put this book down — the stories are as breathtaking as the old organizations would imply. For the collector, this volume is without an equal. Printed in limited quantities (less than 450 copies, it won't be around long. If this is your field of collecting or studying, order it immediately.

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