This really is an excellent book and a true story to boot. It is about a senior member of the KGB, during the cold war, who was unhappy about what the Soviet Union was doing in terms of the restrictions being placed on individuals. The big catalyst was the building of the Berlin wall. He eventually defected to Britain and was instrumental in greatly assisting the British and indeed to the West's approach to the Soviet Union which may have prevented a further escalation of tensions. The book has many tense moments, not the least of which was the exfiltration of said spy when he had been rumbled by the Soviet authorities via Finland.
Ben Macintyre has done a fantastic job of explaining the life and times of the most important KGB spy ever to work for Britain, and by extension, the entire Western world. He carefully traces the path of Oleg Gordievsky as he rose through the ranks to become the KGB’s top man in London, bearing the strain of living a double life. When Oleg is asked to return to Moscow, neither he nor his MI6 handlers know if it’s for a briefing or if he’s been rumbled and is in fact facing death. At this point, Macintyre’s account becomes absolutely gripping as the KGB tries to establish guilt and a very complex exfiltration plan is put into effect. That it worked was nothing short of miraculous.
This is also the story of CIA agent Aldrich Ames, who offered to spy for Russia, but while Gordievsky became a double agent from conviction, Ames did it for money. He betrayed a lot of people working for the West, including Gordievsky, and has many deaths on his conscience. He is still in prison. Macintyre gives a very thoughtful analysis of the main players in this drama and of its part in world history. He’s wrangled what must have been a barstorical amount of information into a clear and very readable account of an important time ... a time that included going to the brink of all-out nuclear war. It’s not drawing too long a bow to say that we may all owe our lives to Oleg Gordievsky.
I was captivated by this book from the start . It is the story of Oleg Gordievsky a KGB agent who decided to defect to MI6 . It is well written and I found it hard to switch out the reading lamp at night . I recommended it to my daughter who was also taken with it . I don't want to say too much about the story line . But suffice to say it has a gripping finish .
Have read both books - this one and the written by O.G. Both are similar but both are worth reading. Well written and so revealing about the hidden world of spy craft which the common citizen on the street never sees. Can thoroughly recommend this book. I wish I had read this when I was in Moscow recently so that I could have visited the places mentioned in the book. If you enjoyed this you should also read Russian Roulette by Giles Milton. Another fantastic read about British spies in Moscow during the time of the revolution.
A fascinating read and more interesting than many fictitious spy stories. Gordievsky, a disillusioned Russian KGB officer, spied for Britain for decades while clever and intricate processes were put in place in more than one country to protect his identity. Finally blown his intricate escape plan that relied on so many "ifs and buts" seemed doomed to fail and the description was 'nail-biting.' An uncelebrated hero to the west and a traitor to his own country information supplied by him on the mindset of the USSR undoubtedly avoided disastrous global conflict but at great personal cost to the clever spy.
I found this book completely engrossing. As non-fiction the author took care to build up a picture of key characters and their drives and motivations. All of this normally 'dry' material laid a great foundation for understanding and getting caught up with the final events as Oleg Gordievsky fights for his existence. The book is both a spy thriller and a remarkable primer on the cold war.
This is a truly gripping real life story of courage and determination on the one hand and a methodical and carefully managed spy craft on the other. It is beautifully written and far more enthralling than any spy novel as it is all true. I couldn’t put the book down.
Gripping reading from beginning to end. This book is a real insight into the operations of agencies like KGB and MI6 which are at the centre of this book, but also ASIO and others. I highly recommend it.
I bought this book after hearing the author on radio in Australia. This is a brilliantly written detailed story of a man committed to a cause that he sacrificed so much for. The detail on the tradecraft used in espionage was amazing. Highly recommend for anyone who is a John Le Carre remembering this is non fiction. Brilliant!