055: Deep Undercover: Life After Espionage With Former Spy Jack Barsky

June 22, 2018

FYS 55 | Deep Undercover BookThe infamous war between the CIA and Russia’s KGB is well-documented, but which of these events are fact, and which ones are simply embellished? Following over ten years of clandestine operations for the KGB, Jack Barsky is finally ready to tell all in his hotly-anticipated book, “Deep Undercover”. Born in East Germany, Jack was later recruited by Stasi, the East German police, to be brought up into the whole KGB program. His mission was to come to New York City, to do whatever it takes to influence political groups – even if it meant spying on Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor. This whole story is a tale of cloak and dagger. It’s a story of him sending notes back to Russia, putting them on a secret piece of paper under a rock. Jack Barsky’s incredible life story spreads the message about Finding Your Summit, about people overcoming adversity and finding their way.

This episode we have a real-life 007 on our hands. His name is Jack Barsky. Jack was born in East Germany. He was later recruited by Stasi, the East German police, which then was brought up into the whole KGB program. His mission was to come to the US, in this case New York City, to influence political groups and in fact tried to go after and buddy up with Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor. This whole story is a tale of cloak and dagger. It’s a story of him sending notes back to Russia. He’d have to put them on a secret piece of paper and put them under a rock. All the different clandestine operations that he had to do, he did this for over ten years before he was discovered. We go through the whole story. As always remember to rate, review and go in to iTunes. It does help us out. It creates a lift on what we’re trying to do, is spread the message about Finding Your Summit, about people overcoming adversity and finding their way. This is an amazing episode and let’s go talk to Jack.

Listen to the podcast here:

Listen to “055: Deep Undercover: Life After Espionage With Former Spy Jack Barsky” on Spreaker.

Deep Undercover: Life After Espionage With Former Spy Jack Barsky

I’ve got a real-life, James Bond-type 007 who’s a former spy, Jack Barsky. This is going to be an amazing podcast for a whole lot of reasons. Growing up in East Germany and ultimately coming to the US as a spy, we’re going to trace this whole story on how this whole thing came to be. Let me start off by saying I am beaming from Sun Valley, Idaho all the way to someplace outside of Georgia in Atlanta. Jack Barsky, how you doing?

I’m all right. I just recovered from a long book tour in Europe, which was mostly Germany but also three days in Poland and a quick trip to Sweden. The book came out in Polish as well as Swedish, so it’s going international now.

You’re talking about the book, Deep Undercover. How many different languages did you print that in?

It’s in three languages: English, Polish and Swedish.

FYS 55 | Deep Undercover Book

Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America

Certainly with your Russian background, I am surprised that it is also not in Russian.

I don’t want to go anywhere near a Russian publisher that may have connections with Putin because anything big in Russia nowadays lives by the grace of Vladimir, so no thank you.

I was doing some of this background information and we’re going forward, but it is important to mention that you are the longest surviving member of that KGB class, crew, or old spots. I’m not sure how to categorize.

To the extent known to me and to the extent known to my contact at the FBI, I beat the previous record by a few months. The previous record was held by Colonel Abel who is also known as the Bridge of Spies. When I trained with the KGB, he was our super hero because he managed to do all kinds of things when in fact he didn’t. That was a buildup by the propaganda machine both on the American side and the Russian side. This is how it works sometimes, you take an individual and the Americans claimed, “Look who we caught, we caught this incredibly skillful, illegal spy,” and the Russians then when they got them back say, “Look who we have there, right in the middle where the things happen.” Neither one was true, but he did happen to manage to live little over nine years illegally in the US before he was caught. I lived ten and then I resigned and I spent another seven years before the FBI caught up. I only count to ten, it’s enough.

Let’s go back and figure out how all this came to be. I talked to Pete Turner who’s a colleague of yours and Pete was a guy that was American, born in the US, that was put in the Croatian conflict in Iraq and in Afghanistan. His whole thing was to gather information from the locals. You were doing something quite different. You’re the opposite side of that table, of infiltrating the US as an East German but through the KGB of Russia to gather all kinds of information. Let’s start off with growing up in the eastern bloc of East Germany. My era growing up was the Cold War. It was us versus them, and good versus, as Ronald Reagan put it, evil. I’m not adhering to any one of those one way or the other because people are people at the end of the day, but I can’t imagine growing up where there’s an actual wall that says you cannot go outside that wall unless you have permission.

I grew up with a clearly defined picture as to who the enemy was. We call that feind. The enemy was the United States in West Germany. That’s a historic fact that the West German government was infested with ex-Nazis. Some of that is historically accurate as well. The CIA did a lot of mischief around the world. We put two and two together and we had the Soviet Union that defeated Hitler. We were on the right side of history, period. That was all embellished and added to by tons and tons of propaganda and indoctrination. To some of us who didn’t have relatives in the West and who didn’t know anybody who had relatives in the West, that wall was meaningless. It was to make sure that the bad capitalists and ex-Nazis would not come in. Instead, what it really meant was to keep people from leaving, which to me, I know it wasn’t an issue. I didn’t know anybody who wanted to leave.

That’s an interesting perspective and I’ve never heard that. It wasn’t so much about leaving; it was about preventing others from coming in. It was creating a moat around your country. You were born Albrecht Dittrich.

Yes. You butchered that name. It’s the toughest name to pronounce.

As you were being raised by your parents, I read that you were sent off to boarding school when you were fourteen. Even at this early age, you were being taught to take care of yourself.

I credit my mother with that because I remembered frankly that she said she was in a boarding school for some time and she loved it. Off I went. I was gone Monday through Saturday, middle of the day. I was not at home. That started me off on a path of independence early, unlike today’s young people.

It is a different age and it is a different time, but they still had boarding schools certainly back on the East Coast and I’m sure in Europe. The reason why I brought that up is because to me it seems there was certainly a tie about gaining your independence, going off ultimately to the US and fending on your own on what you’re going to do in your life and how are you going to make it.

Very astute observation. That continued. I happened to pick a college or a university to go to and watched as far away from my home as possible. When I first started there, it took me twelve hours to get from my home to that place and as a result, I would never go home on the weekends. Almost all my fellow students were gone Saturday, middle of the day when the lab work was over. They all headed home. I stayed because I had to. I could only go home for the holidays.

[Tweet “The CIA did a lot of mischief around the world.”]

Where was that college?

It was Jena. It isn’t that far away but in those days probably transportation was slow and the connections were bad. It was about 150 miles away from home, it took twelve hours to travel that.

That’s a long way and I can certainly understand why you wouldn’t go back home. Hopping on a train in twelve hours, that’s half a day.

It didn’t make any sense so I was on my own pretty much.

You’re off in college. How did you get recruited? I’m putting myself in your shoes. I go off to University of Washington located in Seattle. I’m playing football, but I’ve never been approached by anybody just say, “We want to put you in Russia or some other country to work as an undercover spy,” and go through this whole cloak and dagger life. I see that in movies but I can’t imagine. How do you even get approached?

Obviously, I didn’t expect it. I had no connection with the East German secret police or Stasi. One day, there was a knock on the door. Some guy comes in and gives me a cock and bull story where he was from. I knew that from the moment he opened his mouth that he had something else in mind. I thought he was East German secret police but he wasn’t. We talked a lot of nonsensical stuff and then he said, “In the future, could you imagine to work for the government one day?” I was tempted to ask him, “What branch of the government?” to make him uncomfortable. I dropped that because I knew what he was after and I said, “Yes, but not as a chemist.”

I had an idea that he was going down the path of what we called in translation, something like scout for peace. It was our way of calling spies not spies. That was intriguing. We met a couple of times in a restaurant. The second time he introduced me to somebody with a Russian accent and said, “We work with our Soviet comrades.” There I was in the hands of the KGB. That didn’t mean anything. That means only that they had identified me as a potential candidate. I have no idea what the ratio was, but I bet you that at least nine out of ten didn’t make it past round one. This was a very slow, deliberate process to determine whether I was capable of doing what they thought I could do.

As an East German, did you have any preconceived ideas of what secret police Stasi meant to you? Was that a negative term or was that a positive term, or neutral?

To be quite honest, I don’t want to put my current knowledge in the mix here. Those days it was a legitimate police force that fought the enemy. It was the counter-intelligence and it was intelligence in service of the communist cause. It was all good.

It would be like saying the FBI?

Sure. Nowadays, the FBI knocks on your door and say, “We need your help.” You say, “Yes, sure. I’m going to help you.” Same thing. I had no clue the extent of the internal spying that those folks did. I didn’t know anybody at the time, so I just didn’t know. To me it was a good job. The KGB was the big leagues.

Because the Russians had come and banded forces with the allies and they had taken out Hitler, the Russians weren’t necessarily an adversary to you. It would seem like if you grew up there, they’ve freed you, and now they’re splitting up the city. Everybody’s taking their territory and you’re just part of that eastern bloc.

The Russians were our big brother. They were the ones that we were imitating and they were the ones that would lead us into communist paradise. Everything in the West was bad and was enemies. What I hated was what Hitler and his cohorts had done but I didn’t hate the western politicians. I just said, “They’re in the way. They need to be defeated.”

FYS 55 | Deep Undercover Book

Deep Undercover Book: When you generate negative or positive feelings in one direction, then the reason gets thrown out the door.

Certainly, in so many cases, you’re a product of your environment. We’re here in the US and you get all the propaganda. You saw there’s definitely influence on this last election. They get on TV and they infiltrate Facebook and these different ads and they’re either positive or negative about different people and different issues.

It’s all about primarily what impacts the way people act, think and so forth. The most is feelings. When you generate negative or positive feelings in one direction, then the reason gets thrown out the door. What happened with us, it was feelings, even though we thought we were rational and what’s happening nowadays on the left and on the right is all about, “I feel that they are wrong and I feel that they are wrong.” Rational thinking is in high demand and it doesn’t exist very much.

You’ve got the Stasi agent and you’ve got this Russian colleague that he’s introduced you to. You’re now connecting with him several times, both those two guys. In 1973, they gave you 24 hours to make a decision to do what?

Yes. After about a year and a half of meetings, little tasks, and lots of talk, my Russian handler at the time decided. I’m assuming he had written reports to his headquarters that I was a good candidate. I was sent to Berlin for a three-week trial. That was my first secret meeting and I had a new liaison there.

You go out to Berlin and you have your first secret meeting. A doorbell rang, you opened the door, and there was something under the carpet and then you have to go down and take five paces and take a left.

No, I was sent to Berlin with not a name, not a phone number, but with an address and a time and a code. Such as you ask a question and you get a stupid answer when you meet somebody. That was a clandestine meeting. You meet somebody who you have not seen, a person who’s going to show up at a certain street corner at a certain time. You ask him something like, “Hello. I’m looking for this guy with a yellow poodle who just walked past here. Have you seen him?” He gives us some idiotic answer and then you know that you are the right people.

What did they want to talk to you about?

I was told it was a test meeting. The testing was I’ve got more tasks. I spent three weeks reading West German literature. One time, two days before my departure, I was then taken to the headquarters of the Soviet army, which also was the headquarters on the East German KGB and introduced to some big shot. He didn’t speak English or German, we talked Russian and I listened. Sometimes I had to get some translation. Eventually, after about twelve minutes of ranting and raving, I didn’t expect that question, and I said, “I don’t know, I need more training.” He said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of that. We need to know. This is the moment to make a decision. I want your decision tomorrow.” This is like when people push stuff away and says, “Sometime in the future I’ll figure this out.”

In the meantime, it was interesting. All of a sudden there was black and white. You do this or you do that. It is black and white. If I say no, I could walk away from this and there goes all the idea of helping communism to victory and being a great hero and adventurer. If I say yes, I have to say goodbye to everything that I had worked for and that I was going to enjoy a great career in East German and so forth. That was a tough decision that I had 24 hours to make.

Did you think or in your head, were there any consequences? You just mentioned, you just outlined. You said, “If I don’t do this, I don’t get to be a part of the adventure, travel and everything else. Was there any unspoken, “If you don’t do this, you’re going to hurt your mom,” or something?

No. That wouldn’t make any sense. You don’t force somebody into that kind of a role. You can blackmail or bribe somebody who was already in a position to handle secrets. You don’t force somebody into an undercover role. That won’t work because that person, at the first moment and at the first opportunity, will opt out. Walking away would have had no consequences for me.

[Tweet “You don’t force somebody into an undercover role. That won’t work.”]

You started to go there and then you went in a little bit different direction. I want to ask you about going to West Berlin in those days. There was a wall for those who don’t know or remember. There was a wall that separated and how you got through. I’m sure there were several points was Checkpoint Charlie.

The remnants of the wall are still there and it’s an ugly gray concrete piece of wall. I tunneled under. The entrance for us and people, Stasi, KGB, whoever, was a subway station on the Friedrichshafen, not too far from Checkpoint Charlie. This check point was guarded only by the Russians, there were no Americans on the other side. You went through there, showed your pass to a Russian guard, and off you went. You’ve got on the platform on a subway, you entered the subway, and it took you to the west. I don’t know why the Americans allowed that, but that’s how everybody was smuggled into the West through that particular checkpoint.

That’s how you made that happen. Interesting. It’s 1978 and through your training and everything else, you get sent to the US.


What was your mission?

The mission was to primarily, first of all, establish myself as an American. When I did that, I was already a success. At minimum I was now established as a sleeper agent, which was of great value by the KGB and Soviet Union. Whether that was real value in not, that is at this point questionable. That’s it though. That’s the way they thought in those days.

What is that? Before you go onto the second thing, what does the word sleeper agent mean?

A sleeper is somebody who operates like a normal individual in American society, doesn’t do any spying, just sits there, establishes a residence, and all full documentation. It is not known by law enforcement to have a record in case he or she is needed. You see what happened about a month ago when the Russians kicked a bunch of diplomats out and we kicked the diplomats, all those diplomats were spies. There’s no doubt in my mind. When you lose all your spies in the other country, then you only have your sleepers left to give you some information of any kind.

Going back to getting here, this is more like cloak and dagger stuff. It sounds like you were sent to Mexico and then you went through Canada and you’re going through different passports. How do you get all this stuff?

The first passport I left Moscow with obviously I got there, and then to exchange passports, I would need resident agents that are undercover as diplomats. They were KGB agents, one in Vienna and the other one was in Rome. I also met people in Helsinki. We would meet them, have one of those clandestine meetings, and quickly exchange passport. I gave him one, he gave me a new one, and off I went as a different person.

Again, I’m just going off the movies and it certainly sounds a lot a James Bond, old Sean Connery where he’s got the briefcase, he opens it up, and he’s got a bunch of seven different passports, a gun and money and different currencies and everything else.

You should never be caught with two passports. To disappoint your listeners, I didn’t use any gadgets and my hands never touched a weapon other than a BB gun. That part you can put out of your mind. The other part in terms of moving around undercover, so to speak, and doing clandestine meetings and all that and changing identities, that’s all true.

There was a variety of forms of weapons, and you are in the information space. That can be just as powerful in terms of giving away secrets and how people do things as well as an actual weapon. I totally get that.

My natural weapon was supposedly my brain. I don’t know how good it was, but that’s what I was trained to use.

You land in what city? New York? Is that where you land when you come in?

I set foot on American soil in Chicago at Chicago O’Hare.

Where’s the plan for you to go live?

We executed that plan to establish residency in New York City. I had to live someplace where there were other Russians, that means diplomats or trade mission employees. They were only in those days three cities where you could interact with those folks. It was Washington DC, New York and San Francisco. New York was the best place by far. They had an army of agents, both as employees of the UN as well as Soviet representatives at the United Nations. There were 150 or so.

FYS 55 | Deep Undercover Book

Deep Undercover Book: My natural weapon was supposedly my brain. I don’t know how good it was but that’s what I was trained to use.

At what point in time did you change your name to Jack Barsky?

One day after I arrived in the United States, I came as William Dyson, a citizen of Canada. That was a false passport. After one night in the US, I destroyed that passport and pulled out a certified copy of a birth certificate of Jack Barsky, a young boy who died at the age of ten. I assumed his identity and fundamentally stole it.

How difficult is it today with all the difference? Ever since 9/11, it seems like the entire game has stepped up at a whole different level in terms of you go to the airport, you have to go through different screening and when you’re going in and out of a country, the way that they look at your backgrounds and everything. How difficult do you think it is today to be able to pull off what you did in terms of having multiple identities as you travel around the world?

First of all, when I pulled off in terms of becoming an American, fundamentally the way I did it is impossible because you can’t get a social security card anymore as an adult. If you were born in this country, you get one at birth period. However, I’m going to give you an answer that’s based on my interaction with my good friend, Gunta. That’s part of my odd story. My good friend Gunta, with whom I studied, was an employee at the Stasi. He eventually headed the forgery department. They were the best in the business. He will tell you if they make it, you can copy it. In other words, it is still possible. The effort to forge documentation is fundamentally much more difficult.

For instance, just one little wrinkle, if you shadow somebody else, let’s say you steal somebody else’s identity but that person still exists, you’ve got to make damn sure that that person isn’t in the same space at the same time as you are when you’re traveling. You need most likely insider information. You need somebody on other side who has access to records, personnel records. or how passports are made and so forth, but it’s not impossible. Any security measure can be defeated, but it takes a whole lot more effort these days. Remember in 2010, there were five Russian illegals caught in the US. They were both ill-prepared and acted in a way they were prepared in an amateurish fashion. It’s almost impossible, and I doubt that the business of sending illegals to another country today is as flourishing as it was in the 50s, 60s, and 70s when I was part of the last wave that the Soviet Union sent over.

It’s nice to hear that from your point of view, it’s much more difficult in a whole different level to get somebody else’s identity and assume that. That’s great for the world. You were sent here as a sleeper agent and your goal was to become close with the American society and make contacts for foreign policy leaders and get close with President Carter’s National Security Advisor. How do you do that?

That’s a good an urban legend that somehow I mentioned. In my interview with 60 Minutes, I mentioned Brzezinski as an example. Somebody took that and said, “He targeted Zbigniew Brzezinski.” I did not. It was just an example. They said, “There’s an institute of Foreign Relations at Columbia University. There’s the Hudson group thinktank and the trilateral commission.” They said, “People like that, organizations like that, they were very much interested in finding out what are the plans of the decision makers in the United States.” Because of my low standing in society, I didn’t get to know anyone who knows.

You land in Chicago. The goal is to get into Chicago because there are a lot of diplomat/spies that are there, there’s a Russian community, and everybody else that were around you. What was your job? What did you tell them? “My name is Jack and I do,” what?

I didn’t tell anybody anything. I just was. Initially, the first year of my existence in the US, once I arrived in New York, I went to establish residence in one of those residency type hotels where you pay by the month. It was not a nice hotel, but it was private. I had my own bathroom, a little hot plate to cook and a little fridge. I spent the first year literally getting to know the city and acquiring documentation. It took a long time. It wasn’t that easy, a driver’s license particularly and then a social security card. During that time, I had no interaction with anybody other than people I did business with. That was pretty lonely existence.

[Tweet “I can’t claim credit for this story. I didn’t make it, I didn’t plan it, I stumbled through it.”]

After a year I had my social security card, I’ve got a job as a bike messenger in Manhattan. That paid pretty well and based on that job I could get an apartment. I slowly started integrating in society. The bike messenger platform wasn’t a great platform to socialize with. When I met people, I wouldn’t even tell them what I did. When they asked I said, “I do some accounting.” Integration didn’t happen until after I had this college degree. I’ve got another degree then all of a sudden I was somebody. I’m in a program, I work for a big company. That took all together five years.

Was the Russian government paying you? Were you on some kind of salary?

I was on salary. The moment I earned money myself by working in the US, I received $600 per month. That was pretty much put on my accountant in Moscow that accumulated over time. In addition, they paid half of my rent and my medical expenses of which I didn’t have much. Down the road, I bought a car for a couple of thousand dollars and half of the expenses for gasoline.

Did you ever get to a point in all this where you’re just like, “I’m not making enough money?” I know that you were supplementing it with this messenger bike thing but, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Not at all. I was still on a mission and I was a very conscientious type of employee. Money at that point still was not something that drove me. I didn’t sign up for money. It was nice to have things and it was very nice to be able to go back home occasionally and take expensive things back, not so much for myself, but I had a wife in Germany. That gave me great joy and eventually I wanted to have a house and then the American lifestyle for myself. I was wired from childhood to delay gratification to a point where I don’t even need it. No, that was never an issue for me.

You now are getting immersed into the American culture; you’re getting all these different documents. You’re infiltrating. It took you five years. Do you think that your time that you were trying to do your stated goal, infiltrate foreign policy leaders, trying to figure out, was that successful?

Absolutely. They were very happy with me. That part I did really well, because I had to improvise and it gets to be too much to talk about the details. How this all worked out, that’s in the book. I’ve got a pat on the shoulder and I’ve got the second highest decoration of the Soviet Union for that, which by the way, came with $30,000. Not rubles but dollars. We were happy with the results espionage, but I felt guilty because I didn’t have a lot. I may have underestimated one aspect of it because I did profile a lot of young people, particularly young people, but also others who they could have recruited. That feedback I never got as to whether somebody was recruited or not. That’s it. I felt guilty. All of a sudden, I wasn’t the best. I used to be the best at everything I was doing, but at this point I knew I wasn’t the best. I handled no secrets and I didn’t meet anybody who had state secrets.

When you’re delivering these secrets over, how did you get them to the Soviets? Obviously, it wasn’t email but were you meeting somebody around the corner and you deliver that message? How did that work?

Secret writing and regular mail. Secret writing, that’s something that you compose a regular letter and with the use of some copy paper you put a secret message on there that would be developed and back in Moscow. If I had too much information to handover, I wrote it on pieces of paper, photographed the pieces of paper, and then handed over the undeveloped film in what’s called a dead drop operation where I would put the cartridge in some innocent-looking container, like an old oil can or I made a rock out of plaster of Paris and put it someplace at a predefined point at a certain time before somebody else will pick it up. That happened only twice or three times.

In 1988, the Soviets believed that you had been compromised, that your identity was out there, that the CIA knew who you were. As I read, there was some red painting on the cement which was the indicator that you’ve been exposed. Were they asking you or telling you to come back to the Soviet Union?

That’s right. There was a red dot roughly the size of my fist. You’re getting a scoop now. Nobody in the US knows this story because I just found that out. I met back with Germany. I met a colleague of mine who was also an undercover agent, ex-German physicist, who was recruited by the KGB, worked in New York the same time I did. He was recalled in 1988 as well. He went back and he spent a couple of months in the Soviet Union and they said, “False alarm, you can go back.” They sent him back. Somehow, they must have gotten spooked by something or somebody saying something silly. That’s normal when you think that there’s some guy who was spilling the beans, then you pull all the agents back. They wanted me to go back. That red dot on the supporting beam there for the elevated subway in Queens, New York, that was the signal. It says, “Don’t even look back, go get enough money to get you to Canada and then you will be exfiltrated and your mission is over.”

The reason why you didn’t do that is because either the FBI or the CIA had come in now and met with you and said, “You’ve got a choice.”

That sounds like a movie. No, this is something that’s hard to depict in a movie. There was the fact that I had an 18-month-old child in this country, a little girl named Chelsea who is now 30 years old. Ultimately, this was a lot of back and forth in my mind and ultimately, I couldn’t leave her. I sent the Russian a message in secret writing that I wouldn’t be coming. If I tell your listeners whether they accepted it or not and why they accepted it, they did. I’m telling them too much about what’s in the book. We want people to also read a little bit.

FYS 55 | Deep Undercover Book

Deep Undercover Book: You get used to it that eventually you’ll also do a lot of shortcuts and you were not as watchful anymore.

The bottom line is that you did end up staying here and became a US citizen. That’s the core part of the story. During this entire time when it’s this whole cloak and dagger, clandestine operations, you’re sending notes and infiltrating these different political groups, at night, did you sleep with one eye open, not sure who’s going to come through? I can’t imagine living. For me it would be stressful, for you maybe not.

First of all, I bet you it was stressful, but I was so used to stress that I didn’t notice it. Sleep, here’s the thing. I used a moderate amount of alcohol to go to sleep every night, every night since I got to this country. When I say moderate, two or three glasses of wine. I didn’t get drunk but just to deaden the thoughts and maybe able to sleep. Fear, I had not because when I signed up for this nonsense, I knew that I might wind up in jail but I also knew that the death penalty would not be forthcoming and eventually the Russians would get me out. You can’t run around. This is one of the characteristics I have. I am basically a high-risk person. From childhood on, I have always taken risks that seem foolish and are foolish and always with the thought that everything will be alright. That’s the reason I could operate in that way. You get used to this daily life. Every Thursday I listen to shortwave radio and decipher what they’re telling me. Once or twice a month I mail a letter with secret writing. You get used to it that eventually you’ll also do a lot of shortcuts and you were not as watchful anymore. For that reason and a bunch of other reasons, there’s a natural shelf life for a secret agent and that tops out at around ten or twelve years. That’s by experience. After that, either the agent gets caught or they’re so comfortable in a new country that they defect. In my case, after ten years there was a little girl that made me defect.

You’ve got this book out called Deep Undercover. How long has that been in print?

It’s been out for a year now. I still make the rounds, I’m traveling and I’m giving presentations. I came from one prior to this interview and the book is still selling at moderate levels. It’s not best seller, but it’s doing reasonably well.

Can you also get this as an audio book? I’m asking for me. I’m out in the mountains a lot and I love listening to podcasts and audio books.

As a Kindle it’s available as well, but on Amazon as an audio book.

Is there any other place you can get this book?

Various bookstores, but there are a lot of bookstores who don’t carry these types of books. I would recommend Amazon. They will also most likely under sell everybody else.

This story, as we started the conversation is fascinating to me. I’ve got pages of notes and I left out. We’ll honor the fact that all the other details are in the book and encourage everybody to go out there and buy that book.

You’re not the first one. You actually would be the exception. I’ve never had an interview where the interviewer didn’t say, “I’m running out of time.” I’m not bragging about it. I can’t claim credit for this story. I didn’t make it, I didn’t plan it, I stumbled through it. Out came a phenomenally rich material that when I’m looking back, I’m shaking my head saying, “What the hell happened?” That would be a great subtitle for the book, by the way. Anyway, also I have a website, it’s called JackBarsky.com. If people are interested, I have a counter there that shows where I’m going to be. If people are interested in connecting that way, that’s also a possibility.

[Tweet “There’s a natural shelf life for a secret agent and that tops out at around ten or twelve years.”]

I will leave you with this that through my climbing, I’ve been in Russia, I’ve been in Moscow and I’ve been in Saint Petersburg, a bit down in the Caucasus Mountains. I’ve got to tell you, it was a wonderful experience to be there especially in St. Petersburg, which I’m sure you’ve been; just the structure of the city. I went into a pharmacy and you buy your toothpaste and everything else. There was a girl that was sitting there that was offering vodka shots. It was 2:00 in the afternoon. When in Russia, why not? You’d mentioned wine as a way to calm your nerves at night and I’m surprised that you didn’t say Russian vodka.

No, while in Russia, I’ve spent two years in Moscow. Stolichnaya was incredibly cheap. It was ₽4. It was the genuine article. You have to know where to find it though; you couldn’t get it in the big stores. There was usually some hole in the wall. They would sell it, but it was ₽4. I had Stolichnaya there.

Jack, thank you so much. It’s been an honor to talk to you. Very fascinating and best of luck on your book. I will certainly do everything I can to promote this.

Appreciate it. Thank you. Nice talking with you.

Thank you so much.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Want to Advertise/Sponsor The Podcast?

Please contact Mark if you are interested in working together and sponsoring the Finding Your Summit podcast.