The Spy and the Traitor

The Spy and the Traitor

The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

Book - 2018
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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.
Publisher: Toronto :, Signal/McClelland and Stewart,, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780771060335
Branch Call Number: 327. 12092 MAC 2018-09
Characteristics: viii, 358 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some colour), maps ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

Outstanding narrative nonfiction. This story kept me turning pages well into the night. Real heroism (Oleg Gordievsky) and real villainy (Aldrich Ames) in a life-or-death game of espionage. - Christy

From the critics

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Jan 27, 2020

brilliant. Can't put it down. Finished in 3 days.

👏 A gripping story of espionage, which points up, without saying so explicitly, that the CIA was ultimately responsible for Gordievsky's betrayal. MI6 was keeping his identity secret, but the CIA, wanting to know more about this source, made an effort to identify him. And that's how the CIA traitor Ames was able to betray him to the KGB. If they had respected the wishes of MI6, the story might have been different.

One also has to wonder if history would have been very different if Gordievsky had kept his mouth shut and stuck with his KGB job. Perhaps the force of history is too great to be moved by some brief advantage that might be obtained by espionage.

Nov 26, 2019

A most remarkable story of a spy's life. Written by the UK's Time columnist and Associated Editor, the author had personal interviews with his subject and the M16 people who planned and helped Oleg's tension filled escape from Russia. Includes notes, photos, and bibliography.

Nov 05, 2019

Ben Macintyre - The spy and the traitor - The greatest espionage story ofthe cold war

The greatest espionage story I have read so far, which give me insight in many historical events like Margaret Thatcher vs Michael Foot , Ronald Reagan's policy against USSR , Gorbachev etc

Sep 25, 2019

This book was an incredible read. It was like an action movie written in a book. It built suspense and keeps the reader guessing about what the KGB was going to do to Gordievsky. The most incredible part is that is was based on a true story, which makes the suspenseful parts even more so since the same events happened in reality, It makes you think about the dangers of being a spy and how difficult it is to make decisions about your family when your own career or life is on the line. I really liked Gordievsky, as he did not let his loyalty to his organization and his country overpower his will as a human, as he began spying for MI6 after watching the brutal suppression of the hungarian uprising against the communist government. I think that Gordievsky did what was right in the name of humanity, and risked his own life to help the west defeat the communist regime he hated. I think that spies

I rated this book a 10/10 because of it’s incredible story and writing. I think this is a very informing read on what a spy’s life is like that is not portrayed in movies. I learned a lot from this book and I think anyone else who reads this would too. I would recommend this book to most people to read.

Sep 23, 2019

Excellent read from start to finish!

Sep 21, 2019

If the spy genre is your thing you will love this. The most terrifying part of this book is when in 1983 the Soviet leadership were convinced that a joint NATO war game was preparation for an imminent first strike and invasion of the Soviet Union. As a result they went into the highest level of alert. The world was on the brink akin to the Russia/U.S. Cuban missile crisis. Who knew about this? How many more events like this have happened that the world knows nothing about? Oleg Gordievsky was central in diffusing this world ending situation.
Gordievskys' escape will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Aug 15, 2019

What an amazing book...a true story about the most famous spy of the Cold War--Oleg Gordievsky. If you didn’t know it was true you could be excused for thinking it was a fictional spy novel. The story is not new—Gordievsky has actually written two of his own books about working as a KGB officer in the 70s and 80s, while secretly spying for Britain’s MI6. But this book has so much depth of research into all sides of the spy game—including the American traitor who almost got Gordievsky killed in 1985—that Macintyre makes you feel as if you’re witnessing every event from just a few metres away.
Gordievsky’s bravery and intelligence is astounding, as is the world he was part of—the world of spies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. 330 pages that I just flew through. Highly recommended reading.

Aug 06, 2019

If Netflix doesn't pick this up, they're fools. Amazing (true) story.

Jul 06, 2019

A phenomenal, TRUE story of an incredible part of the Cold War history. I finished this book in two days - couldn't put it down. Given the not so distant poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, the world of spy craft, and totalitarianism vs. the democratic West continues unabated. I think we can all be thankful for men like Gordievsky who risk everything for a greater good.

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