The Spy and the Traitor: Book summary and reviews of The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

The Spy and the Traitor

The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

by Ben Macintyre

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre X
The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

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Book Summary

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 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. In a feat of real authorial dexterity, Macintyre accurately portrays the long-game banality of spycraft - the lead time and persistence in planning - with such clarity and propulsive verve that the book often feels like a thriller...Macintyre has produced a timely and insightful page-turner." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Fans of narrative nonfiction, the Cold War, spy stories, foreign relations among the United States, England, and Russia, and Macintyre's previous works will greatly enjoy this incredible true account." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Oddly timely, given the return of Russian spying to the front pages, and a first-rate study of the mechanics and psychology of espionage." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Ben Macintyre Author Biography

Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He is the author of ten books including Agent Zigzag, shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008, the bestseller Operation Mincemeat and, the Richard & Judy Book Club selection, Double Cross. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

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Other books by Ben Macintyre at BookBrowse
  • Agent Zigzag jacket
  • A Spy Among Friends jacket
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