From “Inside Old Dominion University,” 22 August 2013
True-Life Spy Stories Featured in Former Prof’s New Book, ‘Passage Prohibited: Behind the Iron Curtain’
Before he joined the Old Dominion faculty in 1966, former Russian professor John Fahey had served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, first as a combat airship command pilot in World War II, then as an operations officer and executive officer at sea, and finally in various naval intelligence assignments. He retired from the Navy in 1963 with the rank of commander.
Earlier this month, Fahey published his seventh book, “Passage Prohibited: Behind the Iron Curtain,” a firsthand account of his intelligence activities behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Zone of Germany during the Cold War. In these two years of active naval service, he operated behind the Iron Curtain in top-secret intelligence collection while a liaison officer attached to the Soviet army.
“In recent years much information, formerly top secret and secret, about my activities behind the Iron Curtain has now appeared as declassified information on the Web. Also, on my behalf, Baerbel Simon, CEO of the Cold War Museum in Berlin, was able to retrieve a number of the Stasi reports on me, some of which I have translated from German to English,” Fahey said about his decision to write the book.
The book, which is available through amazon.com, takes the reader into the Russian military psyche and mindset during and after the Cold War with tales of overt reconnaissance, espionage charges and detentions.
In “Passage Prohibited,” Fahey discusses dangerous penetrations of Russian restricted areas and includes Stasi (East German secret police) reports on his intelligence activities and a new “Russian Character Study.” His previous “A Soviet Character Study,” published by the Naval Institute Proceedings, was republished by the Conservative Digest and the Congressional Record. The study was shared with members of the House of Representatives on May 18, 1978, by Congressman G. William Whitehurst, who urged his colleagues to read it carefully and heed its evaluations, Fahey says.
His new “Russian Character Study” centers on Russian characteristics in more depth without the earlier Soviet overtones, Fahey notes. He includes intelligence failures during the Cuban missile crisis and the circumstances surrounding East Germany and the Soviet Union’s failure to observe American immunity in an incident with a U.S. military train.
In his new book, readers have a unique opportunity to ride with Commander Fahey inside some military restricted areas behind Passage Prohibited signs, to witness intelligence collection, and to experience the author’s challenges and tactics when faced with espionage accusations during detention in forbidden areas.
Evaluations by senior officers of Fahey’s performance behind the Iron Curtain and at sea, as well as by his ODU Russian language students after his retirement, are contained in the book’s appendixes.
The following customer review of Fahey’s book appears on the amazon.com website: “For those of you who were Russian language students at Old Dominion University in the 70’s and 80’s, you will feel as if you are back in Professor Fahey’s classroom listening to his great stories about Berlin and the Cuban missile crisis, not to mention his insights into the Russian character. It was those stories that inspired many of us to major in Russian and pursue government jobs. For those of you who are cold war history buffs, this book will give you a perspective you just can’t get from reading your standard history books. It’s a quick and engaging read!”
Fahey, who retired from ODU in 1988 with the title of associate professor emeritus of foreign languages and literatures, won awards as an outstanding teacher and distinguished faculty member during his 22-year second career. He is author of the books “A Cartoon View of Russia,” “Wasn’t I the Lucky One,” “Licensed to Spy,” “Kremlin Kapers,” “Contemporary Russian Short Stories” and “Maverick on the School Board,” and more than 30 journal articles. Fahey lives in Catonsville, Md., with his wife, Barbara.