Episode 55, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube


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Jack Barsky is a former KGB spy who worked undercover in the United States for ten years, from 1978 to 1988. During our conversation, Jack talks about his early life in East Germany, being selected for espionage by the Soviet government, his prior commitment to and belief in Communism, his impression of the United States and its people upon entering the U.S., his objectives as a spy, his experience living in America, the flaws and dangers of utopianism, and the KGB experience of one of his contemporaries, Vladimir Putin.

Jack is now a U.S. citizen, and his life story, detailed both in his memoir, Deep Undercover and in the podcast The Agent, is one of the most fascinating that I have come across. He has lived for decades in two parallel worlds - in Soviet and American civilization - and has important wisdom and reflections to share about his experiences and each system's compatibility with human nature.

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Time Stamps:

(00:00) Introduction
(02:34) Early life in East Germany
(06:44) Belief in Communism
(18:32) Jack's parents
(21:56) A good candidate for espionage
(25:03) What was The Stasi?
(29:53) Objectives as a spy for the Soviet Union in the U.S.
(39:41) The qualities the KGB looked for in their recruits
(40:34) What Jack knew about his tasks in the U.S. before being deployed
(47:24) Perception of Americans
(56:12) Resonating with the ideas of the U.S. Constitution
(01:02:13) Soviet vs. American system
(01:06:25) Assessment of Putin as a man and leader
(01:15:00) Important lessons from Jack’s life

Connect with Jack:

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