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The spy and the traitor : the greatest espionage story of the Cold War
2018
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Summary
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"The best true spy story I have ever read." -- JOHN LE CARRÉ

The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Americans -era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation's communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union's top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid at the United States's nuclear first-strike capabilities and brought the world closer to the brink of war. Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky's name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain's obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets.

Unfolding the delicious three-way gamesmanship between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union, and culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky's nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, Ben Macintyre's latest may be his best yet. Like the greatest novels of John le Carré, it brings readers deep into a world of treachery and betrayal, where the lines bleed between the personal and the professional, and one man's hatred of communism had the power to change the future of nations.
Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Pick up any current true-crime spy book and you'll probably see a version of this phrase on the cover: The Greatest Spy Story Ever Told. Most of them don't live up to the billing, but the latest by Ben Macintyre, author of several nonfiction spy tales (Double Cross, 2012), comes close. This is the biography of Colonel Oleg Gordievsky, who served both as a KGB career operative, rising to an elite position in London, and as a spy for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6. What makes this read propulsive is the way Macintyre tells the story almost as a character-driven novel, showing Gordievsky's disillusionment when, as a young KGB agent, he witnessed the building of the Berlin Wall and his subsequent psychological shake-up when he was posted to Copenhagen and fell in love with freedom, making him ripe for recruitment as a British spy (and leading to his foiling of Soviet plots against the West). Macintyre's way with details, as when he explains exactly how the KGB bugged apartments, or when he delves into KGB training, is utterly absorbing. The action is punctuated with plenty of heart-stopping near-discoveries, betrayals, and escapes. Fascinating, especially now.--Connie Fletcher Copyright 2018 Booklist
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