*The No.1 Sunday Times Bestseller*
*Shortlisted for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize*
'THE BEST TRUE SPY STORY I HAVE EVER READ' JOHN LE CARRÉ
A thrilling Cold War story about a KGB double agent, by one of Britain's greatest historians - now with a new afterword
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...
BEN MACINTYRE'S NEXT BOOK AGENT SONYA IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW
Macintyre (Rogue Heroes) recounts the exploits of Oleg Gordievsky, the KGB agent turned British spy responsible for "the single largest operational download' in MI6 history," in this captivating espionage tale. Building on in-depth interviews and other supplementary research, Macintyre shows Gordievsky expertly navigating the "wilderness of mirrors" that made up the daily existence of a Cold War spy passing microfilm, worrying that his wife will turn him in to the KGB, battling an unexpected dosage of truth serum. In Macintyre's telling, Aldrich Ames, the CIA agent turned KGB operative who gave up Gordievsky's cover, functions as a foil and a vehicle for moral comparison between the KGB and MI6. 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. The book has a startling relevancy to the news of the day, from examples of fake news to the 1984 British elections in which "Moscow was prepared to use dirty tricks and hidden interference to swing a democratic election in favor of its chosen candidate." Macintyre has produced a timely and insightful page-turner.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Must Read
One of the best books one can read. You can’t stop reading it and wanting to go to next page and next ....
A must read
I was given this to read by a friend. I picked it up to read and only stopped to eat and sleep.
Wonderfully written and I found myself there, whilst it was happening. The insights into the vaarious secret services is fascinating.
Le Carré but real life
A superbly researched and paced account of the most successful spy operation of the late stages of the Cold War.
The protagonist and antagonists are vividly drawn and the detail with which events are described (owing, no doubt to the trained memory of Gordievsky) throws the reader into the centre of the operation.
If this were a fictional novel, my review would be the same, which makes it all the more impressive and thrilling that it is a historical account. The triumph is equally counterbalanced with sadness and tragedy, reflecting the contradictions of the spy world as a whole that are often referenced in the ‘informed fiction’ of Le Carré, Cumming etc.