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

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

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

Review

Named a Best Book of 2018 by The Economist
Shortlisted for the Bailie Giffords Prize in Nonfiction


“Readers seeking a page-turning spy story, look no further. The author of A Spy Among Friends and Agent Zigzag, among others, does it again, this time delivering a Cold War espionage story for the ages… another can’t miss account of intrigue and intelligence.” Boston Globe
 
“The subtitle of Macintyre’s latest real-life spy thriller calls it ‘The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War.’ Like pretty much everything in this fine book, the description is accurate… Macintyre is fastidious about tradecraft details… [he] has become the preeminent popular chronicler of British intelligence history because he understands the essence of the business.” —Washington Post

The Spy and the Traitor [is] a fast-paced and fascinating biography of Russian-spy-turned-British-asset Oleg Gordievsky… It’s nonfiction, but it reads like the best of thrillers… The toll spying takes on Gordievsky’s personal life is enthralling, and the details of how deep the effects of one KGB agent’s deception can go are, in these days of Russian election meddling, quite frightening.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Who was the most important spy of the Cold War era? Ben Macintyre convincingly nominates Oleg Gordievsky… Readers should rejoice in a very readable book by a skilled story-teller. Although an intelligence outsider, Mr. Macintyre enjoys the trust of MI6… Mr. Macintyre’s account of how the officer known as Bromhead recruited Mr. Gordievsky as a spy is a textbook study of intelligence reality; indeed, these pages alone are worth the price of the book… In terms of suspense, the flight through Russia is of thriller-quality.” Washington Times

“Oleg Gordievsky was the most significant British agent of the cold war… The result is a dazzling non-fiction thriller and an intimate portrait of high-stakes espionage.” The Guardian

“Even a reader not enamored of spy stories will have trouble putting this one down… [The story] unfolds with a pace and drama that recall the novels of John le Carré.” Foreign Affairs 

“[A] swift-moving tale of true espionage in the most desperate years of the Cold War... The closing pages of Macintyre’s fluent yarn find Gordievsky attempting to escape captivity and flee to the West in a scenario worthy of John le Carré... 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 Reviews (starred review)

“[A] captivating espionage tale... 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. The book has a startling relevancy to the news of the day... Macintyre has produced a timely and insightful page-turner.” Publishers Weekly (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 comes close…What makes this read propulsive is the way Macintyre tells the story almost as a character-driven novel… 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.” Booklist (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)

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About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of A Spy Among FriendsDouble CrossOperation MincemeatAgent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.

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