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

by: Ben Macintyre


Goodreads Description:

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 CarrΓ©, 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. 

Helen says: πŸ€“πŸ€“πŸ€“πŸ€“

Again, I listened to this book on Audible. For some reasonI prefer to listen to non-fiction more than read it. This was definitely our “high brow” read of the month- it has received 5 stars on many different platforms. I am not going to pretend that I was utterly fascinated by this book (I was kind of bored in the middle), but it is worthwhile to finish it. The end will have you on the edge of your seat- an amazing espionage thriller that was all true! For fans of the FX series The Americans, you will love this story. This is a perfect Christmas gift for your dad- just saying.

Holly says:πŸ€“πŸ€“πŸ€“3/4

Wow! What a life lived by Oleg Gordievsky! A real life Cold War spy story. As with most non-fiction, a little “too much information” and detail for me, and somewhat hard to follow all the names and organizations. It is difficult to imagine what could possibly drive someone like Oleg (if there is actually someone else like Oleg!). I cannot imagine that he lived his life in anything other than total fear and paranoia, but I suppose his psyche is quite different from mine. Spoiler alert: Oleg’s eventual escape from Russia to Finland and beyond is a story you will not forget – truly unbelievable how that transpired!

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