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It seems everything Joseph McCarthy believed about Soviet infiltration of the U.S. government was true—but in the 1930s and ’40s, not the ’50s. In 1993, Random House negotiated with the Association of Retired Intelligence Officers of the KGB—many of whom were unemployed and hard-up for cash—to let eight authors examine their archives for the first time. Much of the KGB’s information was confirmed two years later when the CIA declassified the VENONA cables, transcripts of Soviet agents’ transmissions to the USSR during World War II. In The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—The Stalin Era, historian Dr. Allen Weinstein and former KGB agent Alexander Vassiliev use these fresh sources to confirm, deny, and shed new light on pre-Cold War espionage. Before World War II, many idealists in neutral America saw supporting the Soviet Union as a way to oppose growing Nazism and fascism in Europe. And others, like New York congressman Samuel Dickstein, were in it for the money. Most of these agents were back in the Soviet Union or out of government by the time McCarthy went hunting them, however. In 1945, for example, following spymaster Jacob Golos’ death, his distraught lover, Elizabeth “The Red Spy Queen” Bentley ratted to the FBI. Alerted by British mole Harold “Kim” Philby, the Soviets shut down their U.S. network—just in time for the Red Scare. Weinstein will discuss all kinds of scary spook stuff and sign copies of The Haunted Wood at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the National Museum of American History’s Carmichael Auditorium, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW. $13. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (Janet Hopf)