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The Spy and the Traitor By Ben Macintyre

The Spy and the Traitor
by Ben Macintyre

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The Spy and the Traitor Summary

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

*Shortlisted for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize*
*Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018*
*A top 10 Sunday Times bestseller*


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 for MI6. 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 espionage. In The Spy and the Traitor Ben Macintyre reveals a tale of betrayal, duplicity and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War forever.

'Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else. The Spy and the Traitor may well be his best book yet' Evening Standard

'A dazzling non-fiction thriller and an intimate portrait of high-stakes espionage' Guardian

'A real-life thriller, as tense as John le Carre's novels, or even Ian Fleming's' Economist

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The Spy and the Traitor Reviews

The best true spy story I have ever read -- John le Carre
Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else. He has a remarkable ability to construct a narrative that is as taut and urgent as it is carefully nuanced. Here the pace never slackens and the focus never drifts, while Macintyre's insight into his subject's tangle of contradictions never loses its sharpness. It's a tough call, but The Spy and the Traitor may well be his best book yet. -- John Preston * Evening Standard *
A real-life thriller, as tense as John le Carre's novels, or even Ian Fleming's * Economist *
A dazzling non-fiction thriller and an intimate portrait of high-stakes espionage -- Luke Harding * Guardian *
[A] captivating espionage tale. In a feat of real authorial dexterity, Macintyre accurately portrays the long-game banality of spycraft-the lead time and persistence in planning-with such clarity and propulsive verve that the book often feels like a thriller. Macintyre has produced a timely and insightful page-turner. * Publishers Weekly *
It has become a cliche to say that real-life spy stories read like John le Carre, but Gordievsky's personal history makes the comparison irresistible... Macintyre tells the story brilliantly. His book's final third is superbly done -- Dominic Sandbrook, Book of the Week * Sunday Times *
The fact that parts of The Spy and the Traitor read like a pacey thriller is a bonus, but it is based on serious research, including interviews with Gordievsky and anonymous British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officers... This is a remarkable story of one man's courage, and of the skill of our much traduced security services. Ben Macintyre tells it very well indeed * The Times, Book of the Week *
You can always rely on this author to tease out fascinating details on the second oldest profession * Sunday Express *
Writing about cases of British espionage success that the public knows little about, he says - 'It takes an investigator of consummate talent and a narrator of equal skill to unearth one of these triumphs and explain it clearly. Ben Macintyre, who is both, has done exactly that. -- Frederick Forsyth * Literary Review *
Macintyre's account brings it to life in vivid technicolor with fascinating new details. He tells it with all the verve we have come to expect from such an accomplished writer * Spectator *
[An] exceptionally rewarding book * Observer *
He writes like a novelist, introducing richly drawn characters whose lives intersect with Gordievsky's. One of the last chapters is as tense as any thriller. No wonder Le Carre liked it * Daily Express *
Thrilling... A real heart-in-the-mouth book * New Statesman *
Reads like a thriller. . . truly nerve-jangling * The Times Books of the Year *
One of the most exciting things I have ever read -- George Osborne * Evening Standard, Books of the Year *
An impeccably researched, compelling read * Independent *

About Ben Macintyre

Ben Macintyre is the multimillion-copy bestselling author of books including Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat and A Spy Among Friends. He is a columnist and Associate Editor at The Times, and has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He regularly presents BBC series based on his acclaimed books.

Additional information

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre
Ben Macintyre
Used - Like New
Penguin Books Ltd
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
The book has been read, but looks new. The book cover has no visible wear, and the dust jacket is included if applicable. No missing or damaged pages, no tears, possible very minimal creasing, no underlining or highlighting of text, and no writing in the margins.