The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

The Spy and the Traitor

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, sophistic...

Details The Spy and the Traitor

TitleThe Spy and the Traitor
Release DateSep 18th, 2018
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Spy Thriller, Espionage, Cultural, Russia

Reviews The Spy and the Traitor

  • Brandon Forsyth
    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 rea...
  • Lou
    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 ...
  • Kevin M
    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...
  • Andrew
    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.
  • 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 readsBen 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 ...
  • Harry Buckle
    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 fi...
  • Henri
    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 necessaril...
  • Jordan Finch
    This is the first nonfiction spy account I've read, and boy, is any other gonna have a hard time living up to this one!The Spy and the Traitor is the fascinating, heart-pounding, and complex story of Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB agent who traded his allegiance to MI6. Working as a double-agent, Gordievksy is able to help reveal a number of other KGB spies as well as provide insights on topics from the Cold War and nuclear arms to the relationship bet...
  • Julie
    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 KG...
    Journalist Ben Macintyre, in his meticulously researched work of non-fiction, "The Spy and the Traitor," recounts how top officials in the KGB (Committee of State Security) and Britain's MI6 (Foreign Intelligence Service) expended a great deal of time, money, and effort to obtain high-quality information about their adversaries during the Cold War. The central figure in this revealing book is Oleg Antonyevich Gordievsky, a KGB agent who, after be...
  • Ann
    I enjoyed this book immensely. Having devoured pretty much everything that's been written about the Cambridge Spies, Ames and Aldrich, I was overjoyed to read this account of Britain's best spy within the KGB during the 70s and 80s. The book was written with the collaboration of its subject, and of many of the people in MI6 who had been involved, and so it offers an unusually well-rounded and complete view of the story. I was especially intereste...
  • Jill Elizabeth
    This was an absolutely astonishing story and such a well-written book! I am a long-time fan of non-fiction, particularly because so much truth is, quite often, stranger (and more entertaining) than fiction... This is a marvelous example of that. What Gordievsky went through is nearly unbelievable in scale and scope. That he did so for ZERO monetary gain is even more so. When he is contrasted with Aldrich Ames (who doesn't feature in the story unt...
  • Bill Sleeman
    Ben Macintyre is one of the best writers of non-fiction spy and espionage work period! This work tracks the career of Oleg Gordievsky and reads like fiction: fast, engaging and imaginative – that it is fact makes it even more amazing. I have read two of Macintyre’s other works – “Operation Mincement” and “Agent Zigzag” and this work “The Spy and the Traitor” is similar in many ways in that Macintyre’s pro-west and pro-Britain ...
  • Angie
    Another great look at cold war spies from Macintyre. I've previously read his book on Philby, and came back for more. Macintyre tries to examine the character and motivations of everyone who comes up in these pages, and that is helpful, because it's easy to get the feeling that the world is full of spies and double agents, or at least it was i the 1980s, and everyone's loyalty is questionable. This is, by Macintyre's estimation, the flip side of ...
  • Andy
    I bought this book with high expectations, I'd read other books by Macintyre, and the Gordievsky affair is one of the most important and frankly exiting episodes of the later cold war. It completely lived up to my expectations and I'd give it more than 5 stars if I could. For anybody with an interest in espionage history or the cold war, it's a must read.One thing I'd say is that perhaps to a non-British reader the Mi5 and 6 officers come across ...
  • Jonny
    As a spy story, this is more compelling and tightly written than any fictional work within the genre that I’ve read. And as a history it’s very well researched (albeit with obvious cooperation from the U.K. and understandable silence from Russia...) and leaves you wondering how Gordievsky could have been able to live his double life for so many years, and have the presence of mind to successfully escape from Russia when he ultimately defected...
  • Terri
    I received an advanced copy of of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. This is the story of Oleg Gordievsky. He lived in Russia and worked for the KGB. He became disillusioned with communism and decided that he would become a spy for Britain. This is a bit dry and overly filled with details. This book and the story that it tells is however fascinating. Oleg helped in a lot of Cold War issues to help to deescalate the situation so t...
  • Taryn Braband
    Wonderful book. Well written and flawlessly researched. Ben MacIntyre has outdone himself. I enjoyed every minute of this book. Immensely compelling true story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB agent for Russia who became a double-agent for the English (MI6) during the Cold War because of his growing conviction that the USSR was corrupt, stifiling and oppressive. An exciting story that becomes more and more climactic as it continues. Hard to put down and...
  • Will
    Ben Macintyre always comes thru with a great non-fiction read of espionage. This book is story of disillusioned KGB officer assigned to UK who provided information to British Goverment during end of the Cold War. Also story of plot to escape from Moscow after recall on suspicion of trading Soviet info with UK. You won’t be disappointed even if this not your spy stories are not your genre of choice
  • Jean Kolinofsky
    As a thriller fan I have read a number of novels involving spies and the Cold War. When Ben MacIntyre’s book became available for review, I was fascinated by the non-fiction story of Oleg Gordievsky. Once I started to read this book it was hard to put down. As Russia’s top man in London, he was actually working for MI6, providing a tale that was better than most fiction thrillers that I have read. I would like to thank First to Read for provi...
  • Barbara
    Oleg Gordievsky, double agent for Russia and England via Denmark, came from a family full of agents and spies from the KGB. Oleg attended spy training school in northern Russia, where he swore he would always defend the secrets of Russia. But in the years following, he did not honor his allegiance. The Spy and The Traitor is an excellent account of his life on both sides of the fence, complete with many details on the spying lifestyle.
  • Steve
    An incredible spy story that reads like a spy thriller!!!! Set in the Cold War era, Oleg Gordievsky was a spy for the KGB who worked at the KGB's London station, But was secretly working for MI6, the British intelligence service. In the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Gordievsky provided vital information that exposed and foiled Soviet plans, and identified spies in the West, and avoided catastrophic nuclear escalation.
  • Stephanie Hall
    Amazing book! I've only read one other Ben Macintyre book and so I knew I had to get my hands on this. I've never found myself reading nonfiction and sitting on the edge of my seat, reading late into the night, just to find out what happens next, until I read this book. Macintyre is a master at telling a true story in a way that absolutely grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the last page. Would highly recommend!!
  • David
    simply one if the best tales of espionage ever written, fiction or non-fiction. McIntire writes non-fiction espionage as well as LeCarre writes fiction. this is a masterpiece of a page turner. if you read this book, set aside your evening whe you get to part III. you won't put the book down until you have finished it.
  • Brian Kaddour
    So important in this day in age to learn the lessons on the failures of tyranny and conversely of the failures or democracy. Presented in a turn paging nail-biting epic of a true story too. It was awesome and the free world owes Gordievsky thanks! So to that affect as an American, Thanks! Also sorry about our greedy jerk Aldrich Ames!
  • Peter L
    Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold WarAfter a slow start ‘Spy & Traitor’ lives up to its billing. At first I was put off because of all those Russian names, especially the full name for Gord... Once passed that difficulty the remarksble story is one of the best true spy stories I’ve read. Soooo when will they make a movie of this spy vs spy true story ?
  • Charles Lindsay
    Compelling, gripping, fascinating. My only reason for not giving the book a five star rating is that MacIntyre is only, at best, a rather workmanlike writer. He’s no LeCarre.
  • Daniel Gusev
    In a world of shades, sleuths are indeed king-makers. Macintyre expands not just on the external projection of spies actions, but their internal motivation and personal cost.
  • Jennie
    Very interesting book with insight into the Cold War, relationships within the KGB and MI6, as well as the life of a KGB spy
  • Steve Earle
    Great story, extremely well written. Couldn’t put it down.