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The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union. 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 a The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union. 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.


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The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union. 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 a The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union. 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.

30 review for The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jaidee

    5 " superb, exciting, edge of your seat" stars !! 10th Favorite Read of 2018 Award Mr. MacIntyre has written a superb and thrilling book about one of our foremost living spies. Mr. Oleg Gordievsky was Russian KGB that became an agent for M-16 in England and over the course of the Cold War was able to feed England important information that may have led not only to our world being safe from nuclear disaster but perhaps also to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The author was able to interview 5 " superb, exciting, edge of your seat" stars !! 10th Favorite Read of 2018 Award Mr. MacIntyre has written a superb and thrilling book about one of our foremost living spies. Mr. Oleg Gordievsky was Russian KGB that became an agent for M-16 in England and over the course of the Cold War was able to feed England important information that may have led not only to our world being safe from nuclear disaster but perhaps also to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The author was able to interview Mr. Gordievsky over several visits as well as many other M-16, KGB, CIA and other European secret agents. He also read countless other source materials but was not privy to secret documents held by the superpowers. Mr. Gordievsky's two ex wives, colleagues, friends and enemies were also given a voice in this riveting and information packed book. This reader was enthralled, thrilled and riveted. Mr. MacIntyre has a supreme ability to write a true story with both a factual and compassionate touch injecting just enough humor about some of the antics and errors that occurred by various players along the way. I also loved Margaret Thatcher's involvement in this story and her admiration and support of this gentleman and who was known to her as Mr. Collins. Mr. Gordievsky greatly assisted her in improving Anglo-Russian relations. Do yourself a favor and pick this up for your favorite Uncle at Christmas but read it before you gift it. Shhhh I won't tell. Mr. Oleg Gordievsky

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura Noggle

    Warning: Do not start the final third unless you have nothing else to do. Literally could not stop—I was at the edge of my seat. What. A. Story. Riveting and unputdownable. Reads like a movie instead of a real life tale. Will be reading more Ben Macintyre. _____ *EDIT* I've since read two more Macintyre books, A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (5 stars) and Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (3 stars) — and am still looking forward to the rest of his books. Warning: Do not start the final third unless you have nothing else to do. Literally could not stop—I was at the edge of my seat. What. A. Story. Riveting and unputdownable. Reads like a movie instead of a real life tale. Will be reading more Ben Macintyre. _____ *EDIT* I've since read two more Macintyre books, A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal (5 stars) and Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies (3 stars) — and am still looking forward to the rest of his books.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Undoubtedly, relations between Russia and the UK are at their lowest for many years, which, perhaps, makes this book even more relevant. Ben Macintyre takes us back to the 1980’s and the Cold War, with his usual brand of, almost schoolboy, enthusiasm and ability to give the most important, political events, the human angle necessary to make you care about those involved. This, then, is the story of ‘Operation Pimlico;’ an emergency escape plan by which MI6 planned to remove Oleg Gordievsky, a KG Undoubtedly, relations between Russia and the UK are at their lowest for many years, which, perhaps, makes this book even more relevant. Ben Macintyre takes us back to the 1980’s and the Cold War, with his usual brand of, almost schoolboy, enthusiasm and ability to give the most important, political events, the human angle necessary to make you care about those involved. This, then, is the story of ‘Operation Pimlico;’ an emergency escape plan by which MI6 planned to remove Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB officer, and British spy, from Russia and spirit him away to safety in England. We begin with the biography of Gordievsky, the son of a KGB officer, who grew up all too aware of how those around him often lived a double life and whose fascination with foreign countries, led him to do his best to take up a posting abroad. When dissatisfaction and disillusionment, with the Soviet Union, led to him being flagged as a ‘person of interest,’ it was not long before the British made a move to recruit him. What follows is the fascinating tale of how the British managed to move their spy into better, and more useful, posts – even undertaking to do his daily work, when he was posted in London, so he could spend more time spying. However, when Gordievsky found himself recalled to Russia, and with a traitor about to reveal his identity, it was essential that the British rescue him – something that Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was keen that MI6 do their best to do, regardless of the danger. Of course, being an escape plan hatched by the British, this is less about spy planes and more about Safeway carrier bags, Kit-Kats and a baby’s dirty nappy… This is full of tension, with a great understanding of the world of espionage, as you would expect from Ben Macintyre, including the rather competitive alliance between the British and the Americans and the real human cost of Gordievsky’s decision to lead a double life. This audio edition was delightfully told by Ben Macintyre and it was a joy to have the author read his own book. I have never read a book by Mr Macintyre that I have no loved and, I am glad to say, this was no exception. ,

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Absolutely riveting!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    With the current state of affairs between Russian and the UK, this story is more relevant than ever, and I suspect it will always be of interest to those who enjoy this genre. Ben MacIntyre is a fantastic writer and knows exactly how to grab the reader and hold them in place from first page to last. I found this as compelling and thrilling as any fiction book would be. Accurate and meticulously researched, this is a book not to be missed. I will be sure to look out for any future work the author With the current state of affairs between Russian and the UK, this story is more relevant than ever, and I suspect it will always be of interest to those who enjoy this genre. Ben MacIntyre is a fantastic writer and knows exactly how to grab the reader and hold them in place from first page to last. I found this as compelling and thrilling as any fiction book would be. Accurate and meticulously researched, this is a book not to be missed. I will be sure to look out for any future work the author decides to publish as it is evident he is a very gifted writer. I have no hesitation in highly recommending this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    Macintyre's best yet! A truly staggering story told by a consummate storyteller. That being said, it's pretty clear that the book's sources are fairly biased towards Gordievsky, and while Macintyre does a good job noting where his sources are displaying overt nostalgia or actively misremembering motivations, there's not a strong voice to counteract the overall tone of the narrative SIS officers and agents are providing here. Still, that's not really why I read Ben Macintyre: I read him for the p Macintyre's best yet! A truly staggering story told by a consummate storyteller. That being said, it's pretty clear that the book's sources are fairly biased towards Gordievsky, and while Macintyre does a good job noting where his sources are displaying overt nostalgia or actively misremembering motivations, there's not a strong voice to counteract the overall tone of the narrative SIS officers and agents are providing here. Still, that's not really why I read Ben Macintyre: I read him for the pulse-pounding "you are there" writing, the amazing stranger-than-fiction details, and the brave actions of individuals in shaping the course of history. On all of those metrics, this book delivers and delivers and delivers. There were two moments that literally had me holding me breath here. The courage and intelligence of those involved in this story are truly inspiring. Not to be missed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Another fascinating spy story from Ben Macintyre! "The Spy and the Traitor" focuses on Oleg Gordievsky, who was a KGB agent but was also secretly spying for the British intelligence service in the 1970s and 80s. I didn't know much about Gordievsky before starting this book, which made the true story seem all the more incredible. Previously I had read and enjoyed Macintyre's "A Spy Among Friends," which was about Kim Philby, a British agent who was secretly spying for the KGB. If you are intereste Another fascinating spy story from Ben Macintyre! "The Spy and the Traitor" focuses on Oleg Gordievsky, who was a KGB agent but was also secretly spying for the British intelligence service in the 1970s and 80s. I didn't know much about Gordievsky before starting this book, which made the true story seem all the more incredible. Previously I had read and enjoyed Macintyre's "A Spy Among Friends," which was about Kim Philby, a British agent who was secretly spying for the KGB. If you are interested in Cold War history, this is a great read. Highly recommended. Opening Passage of Chapter 1 "Oleg Gordievsky was born into the KGB: shaped by it, loved by it, twisted, damaged, and very nearly destroyed by it. The Soviet spy service was in his heart and in his blood. His father worked for the intelligence service all his life, and wore his KGB uniform every day, including weekends. The Gordievskys lived amid the spy fraternity in a designated apartment block, ate special food reserved for officers, and spent their free time socializing with other spy families. Gordievsky was a child of the KGB."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    This is this the second book by Ben Mcintyre I have listened to recently. The first one was Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy. Again, this book focuses on a real life spy story. In this case, the focus is a Soviet agent who becomes a double agent and provided secrets to the British government during the 1980s.. Macintyre traces the agent’s background, how he changed sides and how he was betrayed. I liked Agent Sonya a bit more — perhaps because she was a woman and such an unlikely sp This is this the second book by Ben Mcintyre I have listened to recently. The first one was Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy. Again, this book focuses on a real life spy story. In this case, the focus is a Soviet agent who becomes a double agent and provided secrets to the British government during the 1980s.. Macintyre traces the agent’s background, how he changed sides and how he was betrayed. I liked Agent Sonya a bit more — perhaps because she was a woman and such an unlikely spy — but I still thought this was well worth listening to. The history is really interesting and Macintyre does a great job of getting into everyone’s personal history and motives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    The Spy and the Traitor is the true tale of Oleg Gordievsky, a high-level KGB agent, who worked as a double agent for Great Britain and MI6. Gordievsky helped bring about the demise of the Soviet Union, and The Spy and the Traitor details his career and the story of how a CIA agent was almost his downfall. It is a fabulous, nail-biting read that flows like a fast-paced thriller especially as the author carefully unveils the details of Gordievsky’s exciting escape from Moscow in 1985. In an era w The Spy and the Traitor is the true tale of Oleg Gordievsky, a high-level KGB agent, who worked as a double agent for Great Britain and MI6. Gordievsky helped bring about the demise of the Soviet Union, and The Spy and the Traitor details his career and the story of how a CIA agent was almost his downfall. It is a fabulous, nail-biting read that flows like a fast-paced thriller especially as the author carefully unveils the details of Gordievsky’s exciting escape from Moscow in 1985. In an era where relations with Russia are sinking lower and lower, Macintyre’s tale hits close to home.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kevin M

    An exceptional read! Everything you could want from a spy story: descriptions of trade craft, code names, depictions of all the facets of being a spy, from the humdrum review and contact of low level targets to moments of pants-distressing terror. And all the more captivating for it all being true! The names have been changed, but the events spanning around two decades during the height of the Cold War are all very much non-fiction. Oleg Gordievsky, starting when merely a newly minted KGB man in C An exceptional read! Everything you could want from a spy story: descriptions of trade craft, code names, depictions of all the facets of being a spy, from the humdrum review and contact of low level targets to moments of pants-distressing terror. And all the more captivating for it all being true! The names have been changed, but the events spanning around two decades during the height of the Cold War are all very much non-fiction. Oleg Gordievsky, starting when merely a newly minted KGB man in Copenhagen, was approached by MI6 through Denmark's own security service. From there an astounding relationship blossoms, as Comrade Oleg rises to the rank of Colonel, and head of the KGB in London. Read this book if you love spy stories; read this book if you love finding out about little-known facets of international relations and Cold War history; read this book if you've ever wondered about what kind of character, and will power could propel a person through two decades of lying to everyone around him, colleagues and loved ones included, in order to survive and do what he thought of as the only moral choice available to him. Read. This. Book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Excellent account on life of Oleg Gordievsky (if you want to check for his autobiography - check Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky). Ben Macintyre knows how to write about spies - what make them moving and doing stuff they did. Another great books just finished recently is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. Both are highly recommended. Excellent account on life of Oleg Gordievsky (if you want to check for his autobiography - check Next Stop Execution: The Autobiography of Oleg Gordievsky). Ben Macintyre knows how to write about spies - what make them moving and doing stuff they did. Another great books just finished recently is A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. Both are highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Harry Buckle

    Ben Macintyre is in the top ten of my all time favourite authors...although possibly that should say 'favourite reporters'. Because report is what he does...and he does it really well. Taking both well known and 'new to me' episodes and events of the past 100 years and retelling/reporting them in riveting style. Crimes, wars, politics, people, espionage- I just checked out his list of titles and I would or have, given all of them well deserved five star reviews. All well deserved for their metic Ben Macintyre is in the top ten of my all time favourite authors...although possibly that should say 'favourite reporters'. Because report is what he does...and he does it really well. Taking both well known and 'new to me' episodes and events of the past 100 years and retelling/reporting them in riveting style. Crimes, wars, politics, people, espionage- I just checked out his list of titles and I would or have, given all of them well deserved five star reviews. All well deserved for their meticulous attention to detail, and that detail, reported in really 'can't put it down style' but without the brash repetitive nonsense of today's modern TV documentaries, where the 'backstory/reasons we are here' get repeated each ten minutes- just in case we do have the attention span of the gnats the producers have assumed to their viewers. As it happens I didn't like this book- because it presented nothing new about what is, as it claims, reasonably justifiably 'The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War.' The story has been well told before - in great detail- particularly well by Gordon Corera. So for me Bens latest work is a real disappointment - the first in his folio-but it's more my fault, than his...as I have read so much on this matter already, researching other aspects of the event as an author myself. Hence me giving, a well deserved five star review to a book that disappointed...I really do recommend it and would urge you to also check out his other work...I eagerly await his next offering. I read the kindle version. The hard back cover design shown here is appalling...and is I suspect of the US edition...the European one (or possibly the softback) is way better. The publishers should be ashamed-I assume nepotism, or an amateur playing at the design game-and their meddling will cost him sales.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Another excellent spy story by Macintyre. This one was harder to get into for me than his others- so many Russian names, places, organizational schools or government entities. But it's still an enthralling review of this man's family, life, associations etc. It is SO telling that he (and his mother in a former era) had huge misgivings about Russian authoritarian systems and found that they could never express them openly. Or only in rare tangents to those who they loved, most trusted etc. And th Another excellent spy story by Macintyre. This one was harder to get into for me than his others- so many Russian names, places, organizational schools or government entities. But it's still an enthralling review of this man's family, life, associations etc. It is SO telling that he (and his mother in a former era) had huge misgivings about Russian authoritarian systems and found that they could never express them openly. Or only in rare tangents to those who they loved, most trusted etc. And that's just NOT or ever more than a person or two in decades of smiling affirmations. Wise counsel his mother gave him with her example. All the missing people and stunted and destroyed lives in Communism and Socialist dictates of actions. How do they NOT or become NOTICED by the comrades? Or now in reflections of desire for copy either? This is the reality of the Cold War as I remember it all too. Non-fiction at its best.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Ben Macintyre is John le Carré's literary heir. But his stories are real. His newest, and best, book perfectly captures the tedium of most spy work alleviated only the the heart-thumping terror of when things go wrong. And spies being human, things always go wrong in the most mundane of ways. Ben Macintyre is John le Carré's literary heir. But his stories are real. His newest, and best, book perfectly captures the tedium of most spy work alleviated only the the heart-thumping terror of when things go wrong. And spies being human, things always go wrong in the most mundane of ways.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Oleg Gordievsky is one of the most valuable spies ever recruited by a Western intelligence agency. He provided Britain’s MI6 with invaluable information for over ten years beginning in the mid 1970’s when the “Cold War” was being waged between the East and West. Because he was a colonel in the KGB, Gordievsky was privy to highly secret information which he then passed on to MI6. This information had repercussions which lasted well into the future, and was beneficial to numerous Western countries Oleg Gordievsky is one of the most valuable spies ever recruited by a Western intelligence agency. He provided Britain’s MI6 with invaluable information for over ten years beginning in the mid 1970’s when the “Cold War” was being waged between the East and West. Because he was a colonel in the KGB, Gordievsky was privy to highly secret information which he then passed on to MI6. This information had repercussions which lasted well into the future, and was beneficial to numerous Western countries. Unlike novels which portray the lives of spies as glamorous and action packed, Ben Macintyre’s account of the life of Oleg Gordievsky reveals the real day to day activities of a counterintelligence agent. It is full of suspicion, fear of discovery or betrayal, and enormous stress. It’s a fascinating view into the lives of counterintelligence agents. Gordievsky was betrayed by someone in the intelligence community, and his hair raising, almost miraculous, escape from Russia will keep you on the edge of your seat! It took years to discover his betrayer. Oleg Gordievsky was sentenced in absentia to death by the Russian courts. He remains on the “hit list” to this day. Macintyre’s well written, well documented and researched book is a thrilling account of drama and intrigue. It is also a tribute to the man whose life was irrevocably changed because of his belief in the ideas of democracy. This is a book that’s well worth reading!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I wish I could bottle the feeling of exhilaration I had while reading this atmospheric, tense, unbelievable but true spy thriller. It's the kind of story John le Carré wrote, the kind of geopolitical map that still animates strategy games decades after the end of the Cold War, and the kind of slow burn that every TV showrunner is trying to conjure up. I don't want to spoil it by summarizing, but as for why it's not a bestseller, I can only hypothesize that it is a fairly long book that requires I wish I could bottle the feeling of exhilaration I had while reading this atmospheric, tense, unbelievable but true spy thriller. It's the kind of story John le Carré wrote, the kind of geopolitical map that still animates strategy games decades after the end of the Cold War, and the kind of slow burn that every TV showrunner is trying to conjure up. I don't want to spoil it by summarizing, but as for why it's not a bestseller, I can only hypothesize that it is a fairly long book that requires a decent knowledge of history. If this is the kind of book you read, you should read this one. 2020 reread: I'm glad I read this again, even though it hasn't been that long since my first go, because while it is tense and exciting as I originally said, especially (view spoiler)[the exfiltration sequence (hide spoiler)] , it also has a very warm side that I recognized more now. Macintyre writes early on about how spying starts as a sort of romance between the prospective agent and the soliciting handler. This is a story of profound devotion--not between two romantic partners, but between a spy and his chosen country. He takes a huge leap and trusts that they'll catch him. While Cold War espionage always has the threat of violence in the frame, at the heart of this thrilling nonfictional thriller, there is something wistful and sweet.

  17. 4 out of 5

    ben

    to enjoy this book fully, I recommend skipping ahead often. like many accounts of true stories, it delves into entire backstories of side characters or drowns us in detail, which only grinds down the pace of the book. other than that it was great

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette Lewis

    5+ stars for this fabulous read. You just can't make this stuff up. The life of Oleg Gordievsky reads like every Spy novel ever written and more! The author has great observation seemingly slipping into the shoes of this world renowned spy identifying the danger, emotional struggles and self doubt while all the time living with the all encompassing lie of his existence. What motivated a KGB Officer to become a traitor against his country and a spy for MI6? The author leaves no doubt that there wer 5+ stars for this fabulous read. You just can't make this stuff up. The life of Oleg Gordievsky reads like every Spy novel ever written and more! The author has great observation seemingly slipping into the shoes of this world renowned spy identifying the danger, emotional struggles and self doubt while all the time living with the all encompassing lie of his existence. What motivated a KGB Officer to become a traitor against his country and a spy for MI6? The author leaves no doubt that there were several factors that drove this quiet unassuming man to make this call. Coming from a KGB family where his father wore his uniform everywhere and for all occasions, a very loyal Stalanist, whereby only the latter years of his life did Oleg suspect that his father had been involved in some very dreadful deeds, dissidents executed, people imprisoned in labour camps, workers exploited etc; his demeanour changed as he grew older, still, he went to his death without making any confession of guilt or remorse. The Russia of Oleg's youth was similar to all Russians constrained and controlled by the government, Moscow was drab and dirty, with limitations on music, books and culture to that only, of Russian and the Communist Party. Any type of Western arts, culture and literature was considered subversive and illegal. To the young Oleg, illegally obtained Western classical music and literature seem to have become so addictive that he just had to experience it all but how to go about it? At a young age he realised that he could appear to others as they would expect while at the same time hold onto his own secret thoughts and interests but isn't this what most people do? Most have a public and private personality. However for Oleg this could be the key to a more fulfilling life. Also, it seems that as he was in the shadow of his successful KGB older brother, this may have given Oleg the clear air to think about his own future life. Two things had to be achieved; in the first instance he had to increase his foreign language skills (he had already learned to speak German) and to be acceptable for an overseas post he had to be married. English, his preferred language was initially booked out (everyone wanted a London posting!). So his subjects were Danish, Swedish and Norweigian where he excelled. While not having a photographic memory, he had trained himself to have a strong recall memory, for which in the long run was one of the keys to his success. Experiences that had a strong impact on him regarding the brutality of the regime, viewed by him personally, was the building of the wall in Germany and the 1968 Prague Spring where 200,000 Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the reform. So, can it be deduced that if his motivation wasn't for money or glory it had to be the colour of freedom, culture and his strong belief of social justice that motivated him. His marriage of convenience finally failed but in the meantime he had found "real love"! However, now as an acting MI6 spy, he had this secret from his wife and girlfriend and his affair secret from his wife! Quite unbelievable. Eventually something had to give and he requested a divorce, frowned upon by the bureaucracy, the divorce however was granted which had him back in Moscow "licking stamps so to speak", however things did change for the better with him ending up getting a posting to London. Here, he was in his cultural dream and furiously spying for MI6. At this time the paranoia by the Russians that the United States was on the brink of a Nato Nuclear first strike aimed directly at the Soviet Union was very real. The rhetoric out of Washington kept confirming this and it was only through Oleg's intervention that brought about the US change of rhetoric that calmed things. (This is the Cold War era). His meeting with Margaret Thatcher regarding Mikhail Gorbachev was another success for him. On the other side of the world a rather unremarkable American CIA agent, Aldrich Ames decided to spy against his country, his motivation was greed, he wanted lots of money. He made several efforts to attract Soviet attention. Was this man so unremarkable that they initially ignored him? He alone is responsible for the deaths of many American operatives and for divulging Oleg Gordievsky's name to the KGB. After being ordered back to the Soviet Union and being relentlessly interrogated Oleg was allowed to leave, however, he knew he was in deep trouble, he was followed everywhere, not just one operative but several, at the same time, his house was bugged throughout, radioactive dust was sprinkled on all his clothes as a detriment for any escape plans. However, he wasn't really alone, MI6 had not forgotten their hero and with the most remarkably insane plans his escape from Russia by MI6 operatives and a baby (extraordinary!) were put into place. These plans were something read only in books, real life it seems too fantastical. Given a new identity this unassuming man lives alone in the UK but not without incident, poison is the Russian weapon of now. He has received many Awards and one from Queen.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This book is brilliant. First of all, the actual story is so gripping that no James Bond movie or John Le Carre novel can hold a candle against it. Sometimes, when we see similar things on the screen we say “no way” in a dismissive smug manner, but the Gordievsky tale is all this and more. Simply unbelievable!! However, it also takes a very skilled researcher and narrator to tell this story so well. Macintyre has taken a vast number of facts and opinions and have presented them in a very clean, s This book is brilliant. First of all, the actual story is so gripping that no James Bond movie or John Le Carre novel can hold a candle against it. Sometimes, when we see similar things on the screen we say “no way” in a dismissive smug manner, but the Gordievsky tale is all this and more. Simply unbelievable!! However, it also takes a very skilled researcher and narrator to tell this story so well. Macintyre has taken a vast number of facts and opinions and have presented them in a very clean, straight, easy to follow and understand way. He also writes so well that you can’t shake off the feeling you are reading a fiction novel. Oleg Gordievsky’s story is one that shaped the world and is a significant part of our history. I highly recommend that everyone (interested) read “The Spy and the Traitor”.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jon Norimann

    The Spy and the Traitor is an excellent spy thriller and documentary in one. MacIntyre chronicles the life and work of Oleg Gordievsky, one of the wests most effective spies inside the Soviet Union during the cold war. Good writing gives this documentary as much supsense as any made up spy story. In addition it gives some insight into politics in the cold war era. The length is about right with reading time in hours in the high single digits. A good book anyone interested in spies or the cold war The Spy and the Traitor is an excellent spy thriller and documentary in one. MacIntyre chronicles the life and work of Oleg Gordievsky, one of the wests most effective spies inside the Soviet Union during the cold war. Good writing gives this documentary as much supsense as any made up spy story. In addition it gives some insight into politics in the cold war era. The length is about right with reading time in hours in the high single digits. A good book anyone interested in spies or the cold war will enjoy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Riveting story of Cold War espionage between MI6 and the KGB, centering around a KGB agent who defected to Britain. The British audiobook narrator had a wonderful plummy accent. I sped my way through the 13 hours of the book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, and that is certainly the case of Oleg Gordievsky, KGB double agent who’s valuable intel helped shape the Cold War. His diplomatic postings would eventually lead him to the highest office in the KGB’s London station, and all the while he provided MI6 with a cache of information that impacted politics on a global scale. Whether it was coaching Thatcher for her meeting with Gorbachev, identifying KGB agents within the UK, or providing insight into the Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, and that is certainly the case of Oleg Gordievsky, KGB double agent who’s valuable intel helped shape the Cold War. His diplomatic postings would eventually lead him to the highest office in the KGB’s London station, and all the while he provided MI6 with a cache of information that impacted politics on a global scale. Whether it was coaching Thatcher for her meeting with Gorbachev, identifying KGB agents within the UK, or providing insight into the inner-workings of the Kremlin, Gordievsky was the most important asset in the British intelligence network. “He risked his life to betray his country, and made the world a little safer.” The constant threat of exposure, leading a double life and withholding the truth from his family, and preparing for defection was a constant strain but the knowledge that he was helping eradicate communism was a greater motivator than fear for his own safety. And don’t even get me started on his harrowing escape – the detail of his extradition is the thrilling cherry on top of an already exhilarating narrative. I’ve been wanting to read more about the Cold War, and this was a perfect introduction to the world of KGB operatives, international spy-craft, and the dangerous politics of the era. I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week: Ben Macintyre's thrilling new book tells the story of a KGB double agent and plunges us into the Cold War's underworld of espionage, duplicity and intrigue. Today, disaffection sets in for one of the KGB's newest recruits. Tim McInnerny reads Ben Macintyre's thrilling new history tells the breath taking story of a KGB double agent operating at the height of the Cold War. Passing countless secrets to his British spymasters at M16 over the course of a decade he u From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week: Ben Macintyre's thrilling new book tells the story of a KGB double agent and plunges us into the Cold War's underworld of espionage, duplicity and intrigue. Today, disaffection sets in for one of the KGB's newest recruits. Tim McInnerny reads Ben Macintyre's thrilling new history tells the breath taking story of a KGB double agent operating at the height of the Cold War. Passing countless secrets to his British spymasters at M16 over the course of a decade he undermined the Soviet Union's intelligence gathering machine from deep within. Eventually, he was betrayed and what followed was a sequence of events involving ingenuity, duplicity, and fearlessness. Abridged by Richard Hamilton Produced by Elizabeth Allard. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bk...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    “Paranoia is born of propaganda, ignorance, secrecy and fear.” “In a craven and hierarchical organization, the only thing more dangerous in revealing your own ignorance, is to draw attention to the stupidity of the boss.” There's a quote on the cover of The Spy and the Traitor by the great British spy novelist John Le Carré that reads: "The best true spy story I have ever read." Ben Macintyre's book on KGB careerist-turned-spy for the British Oleg Gordievsky is exactly that. The gripping story co “Paranoia is born of propaganda, ignorance, secrecy and fear.” “In a craven and hierarchical organization, the only thing more dangerous in revealing your own ignorance, is to draw attention to the stupidity of the boss.” There's a quote on the cover of The Spy and the Traitor by the great British spy novelist John Le Carré that reads: "The best true spy story I have ever read." Ben Macintyre's book on KGB careerist-turned-spy for the British Oleg Gordievsky is exactly that. The gripping story covers Gordievsky's rise in the KGB against his inner turmoil of the decay of life that the Soviet Union brought on it's people, and his realisation that through his actions he could enact change. His pre-career path takes him to East Berlin, and upon seeing the Berlin Wall be complete, begins his disillusion at the system him and his family had become such proponents of. Further adding to that disillusionment would be the Prague Spring of 1968. Assigned to Copenhagen in 1963, Gordievsky feels the freedom of a Western-based set of ideals, and eventually begins spying for the English and MI6 after initial assessment by Danish security services. Gordievsky eventually ends up in London as head of the KGB station, which is remarkable considering what he really was and was doing. His actions proved him as one of the spies during the Cold War who really was enacting a great level of change during key political moments of this time, including the Able Archer NATO exercise and the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. Gordievsky's insights in the upper echelons of Soviet leadership led to a better understanding of the vast Soviet Union and a period of cooling that was becoming too outwardly hostile. However, due to the traitorous Aldrich Ames working for the CIA and spying for the Soviets, great suspicion was cast at Gordievsky over his activities and the great losses the KGB was suffering, leading him being called back to Moscow in 1985. Drugged and forced to confess, Gordievsky was in trouble. Luckily MI6 had a plan to extract him, using the signal of a plastic Safeway bag and well thought out route from Moscow all the way to the Russian/Finnish border. These chapters were real nail bitters and need to be read to be fully appreciated. Gordievsky and his English/Danish handlers and agents are perhaps some of the coolest and most determined people in any piece of Cold War non-fiction.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lita

    If you want an insight into the weird world of real-life espionage, this book could be it. The author knows how to put together a nonfiction story so that it would be engaging and informative all at the same time. In the beginning, I found the tone a little bit dry but by the end, it kinda went the opposite direction and seemed a bit romanticized. I have to admit that I was at times equally astonished and frustrated by the whole espionage business. The paranoia, lies, falsification, and above al If you want an insight into the weird world of real-life espionage, this book could be it. The author knows how to put together a nonfiction story so that it would be engaging and informative all at the same time. In the beginning, I found the tone a little bit dry but by the end, it kinda went the opposite direction and seemed a bit romanticized. I have to admit that I was at times equally astonished and frustrated by the whole espionage business. The paranoia, lies, falsification, and above all fear of the embarrassment is a good breeding ground not only for fake activity but also global conflict (so...we simply won't admit that we messed up... it might just go away). The KGB agents are especially portrayed as masters at providing intel on whatever imaginative subject. The most interesting part of the book is the PIMLICO operation or otherwise known as 'how we extracted Oleg Gordievsky from the Soviet Union using a completely insane plan (even Oleg thought so).' I don't know if this story has been made into a movie but it has the potential. Overall, a recommendable read if you're interested in the topic.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie.dorny

    This story really does make you realise how little you know about what a truly going on around you. And that I still don’t know jack shit about history. We learn the life of Oleg Gordievsky; the kgb agent who stated to spy for Britain during the height of the Cold War. We learn about his early years; the Warsaw Pact and his direct impact on the events of history. This dragged for me for a little way. It was so fact based and fast moving that it took me a little while to settle into the rhythm of This story really does make you realise how little you know about what a truly going on around you. And that I still don’t know jack shit about history. We learn the life of Oleg Gordievsky; the kgb agent who stated to spy for Britain during the height of the Cold War. We learn about his early years; the Warsaw Pact and his direct impact on the events of history. This dragged for me for a little way. It was so fact based and fast moving that it took me a little while to settle into the rhythm of the book. But once I did I throughly enjoyed it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A  man dressed in a drab grey suit standing in a street corner in the middle of Moscow looking like the other citizens passing him by would have been almost unnoticeable, but because he was holding a plastic bag from the British supermarket, Safeway, for the people looking out for him he stood out like a beacon. He was not a regular Soviet citizen, he was a senior KGB officer and he had just activated his escape plan. He now had to hope that his signal had been noticed by those who needed to see A  man dressed in a drab grey suit standing in a street corner in the middle of Moscow looking like the other citizens passing him by would have been almost unnoticeable, but because he was holding a plastic bag from the British supermarket, Safeway, for the people looking out for him he stood out like a beacon. He was not a regular Soviet citizen, he was a senior KGB officer and he had just activated his escape plan. He now had to hope that his signal had been noticed by those who needed to see it and not by those that were hunting for him. In the world of smoke and mirrors that constitutes the fragmented world of the intelligence agencies, the truth is often stranger than fiction and often way beyond that. No one would have thought that pillars of the establishment would have spied for the Russians, but when Philby and his cohorts defected it was realised that your background was not a passport to trust. The same logic could have been applied to Oleg Gordievsky. His father and brother were KGB officers and staunch supporters of the regime but he carried a secret that not even his KGB wife knew. For the past eleven years, he had been a spy for MI6. In this book, Macintyre takes us right through Gordievsky's life, from his earliest days in the KGB, his realisation that the regime that he worked for did not suit his growing liberal outlook the horror he experience when he was there when the Berlin Wall went up. He has his first contact with MI6 in the early 1970s when he was based in Denmark. For MI6 it seemed too good to be true and they took a while to realise that he was not going to be a double agent, but he was for real and had a genuine and personal reason for passing on the information that he did. As he rose in the rank he managed to get a posting to the UK, ideal for MI6 as they could meet him under much more relaxed circumstances. That was until he was recalled to Moscow suddenly, he knew he had been betrayed, but he didn't know just by who or how much. MI6 knew that things were not right and set about implementing the escape plan that they had codenamed Pimlico to snatch Gordievsky right from under the noses of the KGB and spirit him across the border to freedom. The book is pieced together from a series of interviews that Macintyre has completed with the people involved in his unique case. The actual files concerning Gordievsky are still secret and I guess that they will remain that way for a long time. It reads like an actual spy thriller most of the time, including a stunning ending as they try to get him out of the Soviet Union. Gordievsky is still alive and well and living under an assumed name somewhere in the home counties. Given the reach of the FSB, his home is under 24-hour surveillance. One countries spy is another countries traitor, but from the accounts in here, it could be said that he helped stop nuclear war and bring about the demise of the totalitarian state. Another stunning book from Macintyre. 4.5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    AdiTurbo

    Macintyre does it again - taking a wonderful story little known to the public, researching it thoroughly and writing it masterfully to create a suspenseful read that takes your breath away. He helps the reader get the full background that would enable them to put things into the right perspective and understand why the story is so important. Macintyre is generous towards the people who are part of the story, showing up the brilliance, professionalism and courage involved in what they were doing. Macintyre does it again - taking a wonderful story little known to the public, researching it thoroughly and writing it masterfully to create a suspenseful read that takes your breath away. He helps the reader get the full background that would enable them to put things into the right perspective and understand why the story is so important. Macintyre is generous towards the people who are part of the story, showing up the brilliance, professionalism and courage involved in what they were doing. But at the same time, he depicts them as human beings and not superheroes, with all their faults and mistakes. He describes them so well I felt like I knew them by the end. I also felt like I was right there with them, experiencing the atmosphere of the Cold War again, being reminded of what it was like, but understanding things more fully than when I was a child in the 80s. A fantastic read through and through.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kalen

    Do yourself a favor and read this book. I mean, come on. When John Le Carre says it's, “the best true spy story I have ever read" what are you waiting for? So, really, I liked Macintyre's earlier book "A Spy Among Friends" better than this one but only because it was the first time I've read spy nonfiction and I was blown away by the wackadoodle world in which these guys (and gals) live. This one wasn't any less wackadoodle but it wasn't as shocking and surprising as the first one I read. Oleg G Do yourself a favor and read this book. I mean, come on. When John Le Carre says it's, “the best true spy story I have ever read" what are you waiting for? So, really, I liked Macintyre's earlier book "A Spy Among Friends" better than this one but only because it was the first time I've read spy nonfiction and I was blown away by the wackadoodle world in which these guys (and gals) live. This one wasn't any less wackadoodle but it wasn't as shocking and surprising as the first one I read. Oleg Gordievsky is someone you've probably never heard of and yet he was one of the most influential figures in geopolitics in the 1980s. His actions as a double agent helped end the Cold War and his story is completely fascinating. It was hard to put this book down for the last 100 pages and for those this one gets five stars rather than the four I was considering.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kolumbina

    The books about spys were never on the top of my reading pile. This book was recommended to me by Chris, a lovely old lady who walks her dog Chloe and always stops for a little chat. An interesting book, a lot of detail, a lot of people, a true story. Great descriptions of places, especially Denmark (remembered some of the places). Also in Russia, I visited Russia in 1980es (wasn't aware of many things at the time) the book brought a lot of memories. Also a very rich book, well written and well p The books about spys were never on the top of my reading pile. This book was recommended to me by Chris, a lovely old lady who walks her dog Chloe and always stops for a little chat. An interesting book, a lot of detail, a lot of people, a true story. Great descriptions of places, especially Denmark (remembered some of the places). Also in Russia, I visited Russia in 1980es (wasn't aware of many things at the time) the book brought a lot of memories. Also a very rich book, well written and well presented, heaps of photographsa lot of history, politics, Cold War and also current affairs. The third part of the book (the escape from Russia) was really interesting, couldn't put book down. Ended up liking Oleg Gordievsky, despite his double life. Excellent!!!

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