Donald Maclean was a star diplomat, an establishment insider and a keeper of some of the West’s greatest secrets. He was also a Russian spy…
Codenamed ‘Orphan’ by his Russian recruiter, Maclean was Britain’s most gifted traitor. But as he leaked huge amounts of top-secret intelligence, an international code-breaking operation was rapidly closing in on him. Moments before he was unmasked, Maclean escaped to Moscow.
Drawing on a wealth of previously classified material, A Spy Named Orphan now tells this story for the first time in full, revealing the character and devastating impact of perhaps the most dangerous Soviet agent of the twentieth century.
‘Fascinating… An exceptional story of espionage and betrayal, thrillingly told’
‘A cracking story… Impressively researched’
‘Philipps makes the story and the slow uncovering of [Maclean’s] treachery a gripping narrative’
In this often exciting narrative, Philipps uses a trove of recently declassified files to trace the arc of Russian spy Donald Maclean's life. While studying at Cambridge, Maclean became a supporter of communism and fatefully met Kim Philby, a fellow member of the Cambridge Five spy ring. Philby went on to become a high-ranking British intelligence officer, and he recruited Maclean as a Soviet agent before Maclean landed a job with the Foreign Office in 1935. The valuable information Maclean was to share included the truth about America's nuclear capacity in 1948, as tensions flared over the division of Berlin, and secrets relating to America's development of uranium for use in nuclear weapons. Maclean and his co-conspirators were eventually discovered, leading to his flight to Russia in 1951, where he lived until his death in 1983. Maclean's motivations for betraying his country remain murky, despite Philipps's speculation that its seeds lay in the oppressive private school he attended Gresham's School, in an isolated pocket of eastern England. Philipps believes that the required loyalty oaths to the school's masters encouraged betrayals of one's classmates and contributed to making Gresham's "the perfect psychological training-ground for a nascent spy." Even though Maclean remains a mysterious figure, this is likely to be considered the definitive biography.