NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The “master storyteller” (San Francisco Chronicle) behind the New York Times bestseller The Spy and the Traitor uncovers the true story behind one of the Cold War’s most intrepid spies.
“[An] immensely exciting, fast-moving account.”—The Washington Post
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Foreign Affairs, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal
In 1942, in a quiet village in the leafy English Cotswolds, a thin, elegant woman lived in a small cottage with her three children and her husband, who worked as a machinist nearby. Ursula Burton was friendly but reserved, and spoke English with a slight foreign accent. By all accounts, she seemed to be living a simple, unassuming life. Her neighbors in the village knew little about her.
They didn’t know that she was a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer. They didn’t know that her husband was also a spy, or that she was running powerful agents across Europe. Behind the facade of her picturesque life, Burton was a dedicated Communist, a Soviet colonel, and a veteran agent, gathering the scientific secrets that would enable the Soviet Union to build the bomb.
This true-life spy story is a masterpiece about the woman code-named “Sonya.” Over the course of her career, she was hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI—and she evaded them all. Her story reflects the great ideological clash of the twentieth century—between Communism, Fascism, and Western democracy—and casts new light on the spy battles and shifting allegiances of our own times.
With unparalleled access to Sonya’s diaries and correspondence and never-before-seen information on her clandestine activities, Ben Macintyre has conjured a page-turning history of a legendary secret agent, a woman who influenced the course of the Cold War and helped plunge the world into a decades-long standoff between nuclear superpowers.
Macintyre (The Spy and the Traitor) recounts the life and career of Soviet intelligence officer Ursula Kuczynski (1907 2000) in this fascinating history. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Germany, Kuczynski was an active communist by the time she was 17. In 1930, she married a young German architect and moved with him to Shanghai, where she was recruited by (and became the lover of) infamous Red Army intelligence agent Richard Sorge, who gave her the code name Sonya and made her a "trusted lieutenant" in his spy network. After further training in the Soviet Union and divorce from her husband, Kuczynski liaised with communist partisans in Manchuria, providing material assistance and sending regular radio messages to Moscow. She also managed operations in Poland and Switzerland before arriving in England in 1941, where she transmitted atomic secrets to the Soviet Union from Klaus Fuchs, a German physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project. Upon Fuchs's capture, Kuczynski fled to East Germany, but soon grew disillusioned with Stalin's paranoid brand of communism. After a 20-year career, she became one of the few Soviet agents allowed to leave the spy game alive. Macintyre's richly detailed account, though a bit ponderous at times, shines a new light on two of WWII's most notorious spy rings. Espionage fans will be thrilled.
Very Good book
Ben MacIntyre is one of my favorite wartime authors. This book has a lot of detail and interesting insight. It is nice to read about a simple time yet a complicated world.