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The Spy and the Traitor

Written by: Ben MacIntyre
Narrated by: Ben Macintyre
Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins
Categories: History, Military
5 out of 5 stars (201 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. 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.... 

©2018 Ben MacIntyre (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

What the critics say

"The best true spy story I have ever read." (John Le Carré)

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excellent

this great story kept me wanting more from beginning to end. I loved every minute.

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely amazing book

Absolutely loved the book. Hard to not feel sorry for Oleg but he did what he thought he had to do. The world is a safer place because of him.

1 person found this helpful

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An amazingly brilliant story

This book is a must, it's the most exciting, intriguing and nail biting book to date.

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Get this book

This story was excellent. It built and built until I literally couldn’t stop listening. The narrator was outstanding too. If you like spy stories this is one you can’t miss. I’ve already bought another from the same author and I’m enjoying it too.

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intensely gripping story.

the last third of this book was so gripping and tense. read like a fictional thriller. Super. good narration.

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Loved it.

Spy stories are my favourite novels, the fact that this one is based on real events made it even more enjoyable. One of the best books I have ever listened to. Very well researched and written, with the added bonus of great narrating by the author. Highly recommended!!

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Good listen

Was a good listen, crazy story, kept me entertained throughout the whole book. Would highly recommend.

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  • M
  • 2020-02-14

Wow!

One of the best books I have read in a long time. Although I thought this book would be slow and dry, it was the opposite. The story of Oleg G. is absolutely amazing and shines a lot of light onto the 70's and 80's political stage where East vs West played. This book was quite gripping and kept me hooked until the last word.

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Excellent read; offers an intense view of 20th century espionage

Here is a complex roster of players. Oleg Gordievsky is surely heroic in this narrative. It is well written and well told by the narrator. Certainly one is left with a strong sense of the high cost of international espionage.

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Best Audio book I have ever listened to so far.

Really good insite to what goes on behind the Iron Curtain. Its hard to believe what really goes on in the world of spy's.

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  • Bruce
  • 2019-03-28

Great listen.

The audible equivalent of a book you can’t put down.
Gripping story. Well researched. The first book for a long time that I couldn’t wait to continue. Narrator does a great job with the Russian pronunciation as well. Simply enjoyable whilst informative.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Neuron
  • 2018-10-18

Leave a beer capsule under the bench in the park

This book is as good as it gets when it comes to spy stories. It starts out strong – diving straight into the story – and then it just keeps going. I can be a drifter, but it was impossible to drift away while reading this book. It keeps the reader engaged at all times.

The protagonist is Oleg Gordievsky. A real person! Indeed, an actual former KGB spy who defected and joined MI6, becoming one of the most important spies in the cold war. If you like the show “The Americans” then you are almost guaranteed to enjoy this book as well. I particularly appreciated the descriptions of how spies communicate with one another. It can go something like this: If spy X leaves an orange peel under the right side of a bench in the southwest corner of some park, then that means that someone is onto him. But if instead, he leaves a blue chalk mark on a light pole on street Y in SOHO, that means that he wants to meet.

The descriptions of spy communication are both fascinating and humorous. Indeed, as one would expect it can sometimes become confusing such as when one spy was supposed to drop a beer capsule instead dropped a ginger beer capsule. After a lengthy discussion it was decided that the spy probably did not distinguish between ginger beer and real beer.

Nevertheless, there is a lot more to this book. You get insight into the political atmosphere in the 1980s, You will encounter politicians as well as spies. Yet, first and foremost, you get a top-notch cat and mouse spy chase. And the best thing is that the story is, as far as I can tell, entirely factual. The author makes it clear when he is speculating, which I appreciate. If you are at all into these types of books, then you can’t go wrong with this book

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-06-27

Exciting and brilliant.

Excellent well written, capturing a story so important to recent modern history. How brave all the characters are, irrespective of where they stand politically. The fear and limited choices were well described and real. How fortunate to be born and raised in the west.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sara Jardine
  • 2019-06-21

Cracking story

Fascinating and fantastical spy story made all the more gripping for being true! Made being stuck in motorway traffic a pleasure!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tim Martin
  • 2020-05-24

Against all odds

Chewing gum signals, spiked drinks, cyphers, invisible ink... rollicking good fun! A fascinating insight into spycraft and the Cold War warriors who put their lives on the line, albeit for a mix of personal motivations. Much daring-do and against all odds dice-rolls. Reads like a thriller.

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  • John
  • 2020-05-17

Magnificent!

The story is spellbinding, the narrator performs brilliantly, and the author proves once again that he is amongst the top five in his area of interest. Do not miss it!!

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  • Marianne
  • 2020-05-05

Tremendous story, beautifully told

I loved this book. Really well told. Would absolutely recommend it to anyone who appreciates a little history and suspense.

The story is really well told, and the amount of research must have been enormous. Good job.

Worth the money and then some.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-12-18

Superb!

What an enthralling saga.Was embroiled in the spy craft of the era from page 1.
A must listen

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  • Nouvation
  • 2019-11-08

A fitting tribute

Great tale, well told. Hero, villan you decide but bravery is not in question! Off to find more like this.

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  • Orca
  • 2019-10-23

Nicely paced and stranger than fiction

Enjoyable and insightful look at the odd universe of old school spies and trade craft; the excitement and the banality. Ben MacIntyre is a fine writer and narrator.