Reading the 20th Century discussion

53 views
Favourite Authors > Ben Macintyre

Comments Showing 1-50 of 52 (52 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
I know that a few of us like Ben Macintyre. I was delighted to see that he has a new book coming out later in the year:
The Spy and The Traitor in September
It isn't on Goodreads yet, but the synopsis is as follows:

A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians

On a warm July evening in 1985, a middle-aged man stood on the pavement of a busy avenue in the heart of Moscow, holding a plastic carrier bag. In his grey suit and tie, he looked like any other Soviet citizen. The bag alone was mildly conspicuous, printed with the red logo of Safeway, the British supermarket.

The man was a spy. A senior KGB officer, for more than a decade he had supplied his British spymasters with a stream of priceless secrets from deep within the Soviet intelligence machine. No spy had done more to damage the KGB. The Safeway bag was a signal: to activate his escape plan to be smuggled out of Soviet Russia. So began one of the boldest and most extraordinary episodes in the history of spying. Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of espionage, betrayal and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever...

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/27958...


message 2: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Hurrah - great news. Thanks Susan.


All Ben's books are splendid


message 3: by Nigeyb (last edited Mar 13, 2018 10:21AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
So what's your favourite book by Ben Macintyre?


My own response would be Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal.....

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal is the remarkable story of Second World War double agent Eddie Chapman. Along the way Eddie meets an extraordinary cast of characters. Here's a couple of examples:

Maskelyne who was Britain's official illusionist (and a master-illusionist at that) who came from a long line of magicians, alchemists and astronomers. In addition to his marvellous war work he also invented the coin operated toilet door.

Praetorius, one of Chapman's Abwehr (German Secret Service) minders. A fan of English folk dancing and who adored Morris dancing. As the war was concluding, Praetorius left the Abwehr, to take up a role as dance instructor to the Wehrmacht.

There are many, many more. You couldn't make some of this stuff up. It's incredible.

Click here to read my review



Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal


message 5: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "I think my favourite remains Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory "

That's a superb read - and probably my second favourite.

I was less keen on Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War though. Enjoyable enough but not up to the usual ultra high standard.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
I don't think I've read that one. Still, a new Ben Macintyre is always cause for great excitement - I have pre-ordered immediately :)


message 7: by Nigeyb (last edited Sep 26, 2018 06:36AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
The 21st September 2018 episode of the Dan Snow's History Hit podcast features our man Ben Macintyre discussing Soviet double agent Oleg Gordievsky who is also the subject of newly published....

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

Susan mentions this book in the first post of this thread - the book was published on 20 Sept 2018

I've downloaded the podcast and will report back.

I will also be reading the book as soon as I can - and will also report back.

Here's some more information about the book.....

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.




message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
I have the book on Audible - just need time to get to it!

I will certainly listen to the podcast too, thanks Nigeyb.


message 9: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
I've listened to it now. It's wonderful. Both Dan and Ben are so enthusiastic it's impossible not to get swept up them - and, of course, it is an extraordinary tale too.

I'll be reading the book soon.


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
I listened to the podcast yesterday - sounds great and I am sure I will enjoy it.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Agent Zigzag Agent Zigzag by Macintyre B is a kindle deal of the day today.

I have now started The Spy and the Traitor The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War which I am listening to on Audible. This has the advantage that it is narrated by Ben Macintyre himself and I am certainly enjoying his enthusiastic re-telling of his own work. Although I am only a few chapters in, I am enjoying this immensely so far.


message 13: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Hurrah - great review. Glad to discover it's another winner


message 14: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Yes, a great read, Nigeyb. I am convinced you will enjoy it.


message 15: by CQM (new)

CQM As I strode manfully through my front door this evening after work I spied on the floor a booklet for the Dulwich Literary Festival. And just so you don't think I've gone insane I'll point out that Ben MacIntyre will be giving a talk on The Spy and the Traitor at The Great Hall, Dulwich College on Sunday the 11th of November.
Thought I'd let the folks here know.


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Thanks for posting, CQM. Authors seem to spend so much time at Literary Festivals now, I wonder when they get time to write anything :)


message 17: by Sue (new)

Sue (mrskipling) | 221 comments Nigeyb wrote: "The 21st September 2018 episode of the Dan Snow's History Hit podcast features our man Ben Macintyre discussing Soviet double agent Oleg Gordievsky who is also the subject of newly p..."

Thanks for mentioning this podcast Nigeyb - I've subscribed and it sounds really interesting. I've downloaded the Ben Macintyre episode today. Also they have the audio version of The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War at our library so I've reserved it.

I love finding new authors on GR, I haven't read any of Ben Macintyre but he has some interesting titles. I particularly like the sound of For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Indeed, Ben Macintyre has written some fabulous books, Sue. I also agree that the Dan Snow podcast is very interesting and he often interviews authors, which lead you to new books. One I mean to read, which I discovered through this and which ties in with The Magic Mountain is Consumptive Chic: A History of Fashion, Beauty and Disease


message 19: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I did Sue


message 20: by Nigeyb (last edited Feb 08, 2019 04:38AM) (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "£1.19.....


Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies"


I saw Susan's post in Kindle Offers thread but didn't realise Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies is by the mighty Ben Macintyre. I probably should have remembered the title.

Fortunately my daily Kindle deal email came through and I was able to snap up a bargain copy.

Thanks Susan



In his celebrated bestsellers Agent Zigzag and Operation Mincemeat, Ben Macintyre told the dazzling true stories of a remarkable WWII double agent and of how the Allies employed a corpse to fool the Nazis and assure a decisive victory.  In Double Cross, Macintyre returns with the untold story of the grand final deception of the war and of the extraordinary spies who achieved it.

   On June 6, 1944, 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and suffered an astonishingly low rate of casualties.  D-Day was a stunning military accomplishment, but it was also a masterpiece of trickery. Operation Fortitude, which protected and enabled the invasion, and the Double Cross system, which specialized in turning German spies into double agents, deceived the Nazis into believing that the Allies would attack at Calais and Norway rather than Normandy. It was the most sophisticated and successful deception operation ever carried out, ensuring that Hitler kept an entire army awaiting a fake invasion, saving thousands of lives, and securing an Allied victory at the most critical juncture in the war.

   The story of D-Day has been told from the point of view of the soldiers who fought in it, the tacticians who planned it, and the generals who led it. But this epic event in world history has never before been told from the perspectives of the key individuals in the Double Cross System. These include its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed Double Cross’s nucleus: a dashing  Serbian playboy, a Polish fighter-pilot, a bisexual Peruvian party girl, a deeply eccentric Spaniard with a diploma in chicken farming and a volatile Frenchwoman, whose obsessive love for her pet dog very nearly wrecked the entire plan. The D-Day spies were, without question, one of the oddest military units ever assembled, and their success depended on the delicate, dubious relationship between spy and spymaster, both German and British. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy whose heroic sacrifice is revealed here for the first time.

   With the same depth of research, eye for the absurd and masterful storytelling that have made Ben Macintyre an international bestseller,  Double Cross is a captivating narrative of the spies who wove a web so intricate it ensnared Hitler’s army and carried thousands of D-Day troops across the Channel in safety.


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Oh, it's a brilliant read, Nigeyb. Enjoy :)


message 22: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments Just downloaded it from my library. Will be my first Ben Macintyre novel.


message 23: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1025 comments Lynaia wrote: "Just downloaded it from my library. Will be my first Ben Macintyre novel."

He doesn't write novels. He writes non-fiction.


message 24: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments Actually, I do see that. Just a lack of accuracy in my choice of words.


message 25: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1025 comments He does write good books which almost read as if they were novels.


message 26: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Although I am not a big TV fan, I have enjoyed the documentaries he has done of his books too. He is just so enthusiastic and almost like one of the characters he writes about.


message 27: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
I plan to start Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies later today

I'm looking forward to it


message 28: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
I'm underway with Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies. There's certainly a lot of names and aliases to get familiar with however Ben usually manages to make complexity comprehensible, so looking forward to getting immersed in more of his historical reenactment.

I've also read a couple of books about D-Day recently so it should be interesting to gain an understanding of how espionage and deception helped with the operation.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Enjoy - I loved it.


message 30: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
I'm approaching the halfway point of Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies and starting to really enjoy it. I was particularly tickled to learn that not only was every single Abwehr spy in the UK during WW2 a double agent but that Nazi Germany was indirectly funding the UK operation through their generous payments to their spies. It's amazing how easily deceived they were. Thankfully.


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
It does seem that Geobbels, in particular, was more suspicious than most of the Nazi hierarchy. However, I feel that the problem was that those around Hitler didn't want to tell him anything he didn't want to hear and that allowed those in charge to go along with things that, perhaps personally, they didn't quite believe could be as good as they sounded.

I seem to recall being amused by the tales of gangs of Welsh terrorists fighting the British, or am I making that up?


message 32: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Part of the intel was around disaffected Welsh nationalists who were sympathetic to the Nazis as they were both anti-English. Some of the stuff that was made up is very comedic.

I'm now drawing in on the conclusion and it's getting very exciting. Ben Mac certainly knows how to tell a story - and this material is solid gold.

Johnny Jebsen the German spying for the British has just been taken to Berlin so now the British fear that, under interrogation, he could blow the entire double cross network with D-Day only weeks away. #tense


message 33: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Ben Macintyre surely knows how to tell a story. I think I am due a re-read of one of his books pretty soon.


message 34: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "I'm underway with Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies..."

Finished

Here’s my review

Needless to say it is up to the high standards that we Ben Macintyre fans have come to expect. Once again, truth is stranger than fiction. It's a compelling read and another remarkable slice of previously untold WW2 history.

4/5




message 35: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments Just started this yesterday. Quite enjoyable so far. I found the part about Juan Pujol making up reports quite funny. Reminded me of Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene.


message 36: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Ben makes that very comparison later in the book. I believe GG was directly inspired by Pujol.


message 37: by Lynaia (new)

Lynaia | 468 comments 👍🏻


message 38: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy Agent Sonya Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy by Ben Macintyre
out in September.

The incredible story of the greatest female spy in history, from one of Britain's most acclaimed historians - available for pre-order now

In the quiet Cotswolds village of Great Rollright in 1944, a thin, and unusually elegant, housewife emerged from her cottage to go on her usual bike ride. A devoted mother-of-three, attentive wife and friendly neighbour, Sonya Burton seemed to epitomise rural British domesticity.

However, rather than pedalling towards the shops with her ration book, Ursula Kuczynski - codename Sonya - was heading for the Oxfordshire countryside to gather scientific secrets from a nuclear physicist. Secrets that would enable the Soviet Union to build the atomic bomb.

Far from an obedient homemaker, Sonya Burton was a dedicated communist, a decorated colonel and a veteran spy who risked her life to keep the Soviet Union in the nuclear arms race. Her husband was also a Soviet agent and her children had three different fathers from lovers she'd encountered throughout her incredible career.

In Agent Sonya, Ben Macintyre reveals the astonishing story behind the most important woman spy in history and the huge emotional cost that came with being a mother, a wife, and a secret agent at once.

'Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else' John Preston


message 39: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy out in September.


The incredible story of the greatest female spy in history "


Ben has never let us down. This sounds like another winner. Thanks for posting Susan.


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Yes, I have loved everything I have read by him so far. Another definite pre-order!


message 41: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
Great replies from Ben Macintyre in the Guardian's Books That Made Me series.....


https://www.theguardian.com/books/202...

Susan, you'll definitely find plenty to enjoy I am sure


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Thanks, Nigeyb. Will have a look. I'm ashamed to say his last title still lurks, unread, on my kindle!


message 43: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
Talking of Macintyre - such a wonderful author and yet we've never had a buddy read. Who has read his latest, Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy Agent Sonya Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy by Ben Macintyre ?

Would anyone fancy a buddy at some point? Or, indeed, of a different title?


message 44: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 8543 comments Mod
I'll let you know when I pick it up - probably when it comes up in a sale!


message 45: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 4169 comments Mod
I haven't read any Ben Macintyre yet despite having heard good things about him so may well be up for a buddy read. Sonya looks good and I'll look out for it.


message 46: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
OK, let's leave that one open then :)


message 47: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 4169 comments Mod
Yes, let's definitely keep it on the watch list as it looks fascinating.

Did Macintyre write something on Burgess, Maclean and the Cambridge spies? That's also something I'd like to read more about.


message 49: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 4169 comments Mod
Thanks, Susan!

I've read A Spy Named Orphan (must have been from NG) and while the story is amazing, the writing is a bit pedestrian and prosaic, and never really got exciting. But it definitely whetted my appetite for more.

I like the sound of Stalin's Englishman if you'd like to do a buddy read. The Philby book looks great too but I'm assuming you've already read it?


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9060 comments Mod
I don't mind re-reading the Philby or reading Stalin's Englishman - or, indeed, both. Couldn't do it just yet though - I have the new Joanne Harris, so am re-reading the St Oswald's trilogy first.


« previous 1
back to top