Jon Wiener: 'The Americans': Soviet Spies on Cable TV

tags: Cold War, Jon Wiener, The Nation, TV shows, The Americans, Soviets, spying



Jon Wiener teaches U.S. history at UC Irvine. His most recent book is How We Forgot the Cold War: A Historical Journey across America.

The best thing about “The Americans,” the new spy show on FX cable TV, is that the Soviet spies are not Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  They are a different married couple--Russians, sent by the KGB from Moscow to Washington DC.  The show begins shortly after Reagan takes office....

If Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin of “Homeland” had been assigned to this case, they would have caught Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, the stars of “The Americans,” in episode one.

Ron Radosh, David Horowitz & Co. will be unhappy with this show (of course they are unhappy about so many things) because the spies in question are not American communists.  They do have a point there – the most successful Soviet spies in the US were not Russians.  I’m not talking here about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.  Historians today pretty much agree that Julius was a spy but he didn’t give the Soviets the secret of the A-bomb; Ethel was innocent but was framed by her brother, David Greenglass, because the FBI threatened to indict his own wife....




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