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The Spy and the Traitor

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  11,023 ratings  ·  1,094 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Crown Publishing Group (NY)
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4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,023 ratings  ·  1,094 reviews


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Jaidee
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cold war personnel and favorite uncles
Recommended to Jaidee by: a random and welcome choice
Shelves: five-stars-books
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
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Susan
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Lou
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Diane
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Brandon Forsyth
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Cindy Burnett
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Kevin M
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Alex Givant
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Harry Buckle
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Andrew
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Kate
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 ...more
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
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Jon Norimann
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, politics
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
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Julie
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vine, own, non-fiction
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 ...more
Mark
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 6-stars
I am an avid reader of espionage novels Le Carre, Len Deighton, Mick Herron, Charles Cumming, Ken Follett, Robert Harris to name a few... But have never strayed into the murky waters of a true spy story, but I am so happy that I did, this is an incredible true story, magnificently told by Ben Macintyre.

I'll definitely be reading more of his books!
Samuel
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good non fiction book about the one spy who survived death by Aldrich Ames. Quite possibly the finest hour of the SIS in the Cold War, an example of how asset cultivation and handling is done right and how sometimes, even when the odds seem high, it's perfectly possible to bring one spy in from the cold.
Dumbledore11214
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stijn Zanders
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-2019
A remarkable story laid out perfectly in this book. It is very interesting to read how this double spy influenced the cold war in a big way. It is one of the best books I have read thus far this year.
Jamie
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely the best book I've read so far this year - it was like a thriller movie in words with all the right characters and pacing that immediately sucked me in and didn't let me go until the final word. I also loved learning more about the Cold War - it's crazy to think about how much worse it could have been had it not been for the efforts of a handful of people and one spy.
Kolumbina
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Maine Colonial
I don’t know how he does it, but Ben Macintyre has once again produced a dazzling tale of 20th-century espionage that is more gripping than any thriller novel or movie. I also don’t know why I don’t remember media reports of Oleg Gordievsky’s escape from Russia to Britain, because it’s a stunner.

Macintyre tells Gordievsky’s story of following his father’s and brother’s footsteps to become a KGB officer; becoming disenchanted with his agency and country as a result of witnessing the building of
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Henri
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
Truly spectacular!

I never have read a single Ben Macintyre work but will surely aqcuire a few and get to them promptly. This was a staggeringly beautiful and prosaic page-turner. Non-Fiction that reads like your ordinary spy thriller but is indeed based on fact. I could not put it down for two days straight and sat engrossed till late at night both times. Highly recommended to anyone that likes a bit of history non-fiction but does not necessarily want to plunge into a heavily academic work - th
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Kalen
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
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
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Paul
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed two things about this one. First, Macintyre has a way of explaining the rudimentary skills of spy-craft without dumbing it down at all. He seamlessly integrates the information into the narrative of Oleg’s life. Second, I was amazed at the depth of this story. Not only the number of people and plots Oleg’s information was able to put down, but the vast threads of influence that went into protecting him, and a couple who threatened his identity.

An amazing story that should see th
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David Yoon
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For author Ben MacIntyre, Oleg Gordievsky belongs in the pantheon of world changing spies. A KGB colonel at the height of the Cold War, he was in fact an agent for the British Secret Service. The book opens with his flat in Moscow being bugged, cameras installed and a light coating of radioactive dust sprinkled on his clothes and shoes. Oleg is returning to Moscow and it's clear his traitorous activity of the past decade has been discovered. The noose is tightening and Oleg is quickly running ou ...more
M. Nasiri
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, politics
The Spy and the Traitor (2018) details the real-life spy story of Oleg Gordievsky, the Soviet double-agent whose efforts contributed to the end of the Cold War. 
An audiobook which I have listened in Blinkist.com.
ben
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Liz
This book was FASCINATING and so insanely good. It sort of reads like a PG version of “The Americans” - way less sex and violence, but still so suspenseful and riveting. And the fact that it’s all a true story makes it that much more incredible. Seriously, it’s one of the better nonfiction books I’ve ever read.
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Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.
“For an intelligence service, there is no process more painful and debilitating than an internal hunt for an unidentified traitor. The damage Philby did to MI6’s self-confidence was far greater and more enduring than anything he inflicted by spying for the KGB. A mole does not just foment mistrust. Like a heretic, he undermines the coherence of faith itself.” 1 likes
“In launching Operation RYAN, Andropov broke the first rule of intelligence: never ask for confirmation of something you already believe. Hitler had been certain that the D-day invasion force would land at Calais, so that is what his spies (with help from Allied double agents) told him, ensuring the success of the Normandy landings. Tony Blair and George W. Bush were convinced that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, and that is what their intelligence services duly concluded. Yuri Andropov, pedantic and autocratic, was utterly convinced that his KGB minions would find evidence of a looming nuclear assault. So that is what they did.” 1 likes
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