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

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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.

“The best true spy story I have ever read.”—JOHN LE CARRÉ

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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Anonymous says:

MacIntyre does it again A truly superb work of true life spy craft. Other reviewers have more than adequately outlined the content of this work. I will just comment on my continued amazement at how during the Cold War so many liberals in the West were Soviet apologists blaming the West for all the world’s problems. In the UK particularly, so many in the Labour Party took money from Moscow while undermining democratic institutions. The Soviet Union was a hell hole from beginning to end. How anyone could support it in…

Anonymous says:

Splendid history & a gripping read The Spy and The Traitor is touted in its subhead as “the greatest espionage story ever told.” That isn’t just publisher hype. The real events and the story of Oleg Gordievsky, KGB officer and diplomat reads like something from a John LeCarre or Robert Ludlum story…except it’s true and marvelously documented. Raised by a father and older brother who both served devotedly and unquestioningly in the KGB (dad worked through Stalin’s purges and survived in the KGB’s precursor agency)…

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