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The Spy and the Traitor

Written by: Ben MacIntyre
Narrated by: Ben Macintyre
Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins
5 out of 5 stars (75 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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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excellent

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

1 of 1 people found this review 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Possibly the most riveting book you may read in your life

Certainly the most riveting book I read in my life. And yes, I read more than 3 books.

We have all seen movies and read books about spies and believed that most of it was exaggerated. If this story is genuine, and of course, I believe it is, it is simply extraordinary!

An amazing adventure. A touching family story. A revelation to the intricacies of spying. Definitely a nail biting thriller.

I want everyone I know to read this book. A very well written story/biography. I will miss that book.

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Must-read!

This is an incredible story with a fantastic narrator. You won't be disappointed with this book.

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Compelling spy thriller

Enjoyed the listen from start to finish. You won’t want to put it down. True stories are the most compelling, especially if you are a history buff.

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Non Fiction that reads like Fiction

Really loved this. Riveting story. Really awesome mix of insight into intelligence underworld, personal story and historical occurences. totally recommend it.

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Stunning

An amazing true story of truth, betrayal and sacrifice. I loved every single minute of it.

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Absolutely incredible

Fascinating and gripping story. Even though I knew the outcome, it still had me on the edge of my seat. What a remarkable tale of bravery and courage. Ben MacIntyre is an outstanding writer and having him read the audio version only enhanced the experience - loved every minute of it.

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Gripping story, very well told

Within the first couple of minutes I was into the story, and I soon found that I had to pull myself away from it to do things I should have been doing instead. I haven't been absorbed by a book to this degree for a really long time. Super enjoyable. And, having sampled both versions, I can say that this version--narrated by the author himself--was excellent. Great performance of his own material. Highly recommended.

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  • A
  • 2019-01-16

a tour de force

this is a great book by any standards but even more so perfect as an audiobook. the tension is real especially if you were like me and were not familiar with this case beforehand. I found this book had the perfect amount of focusing on the personal details and motivations and the larger scale political consequences. great narration as well. a book I would recommend any listener

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  • Bruce
  • Dunkeld, Australia
  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Neuron
  • Sweden
  • 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

1 of 1 people found this review 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.

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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!

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  • Don
  • 2019-06-13

Loved it!

Great background detail and plot development. Amazing true story with depth and intrigue. Highly recommended.

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  • Lars
  • Craighall, South Africa
  • 2019-06-10

A gripping story of the spy world

a truly gripping g story of of another world not k own by most people. difficult to conprehend the reality and fatality risk fir the people involved.

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  • Arno
  • 2019-05-14

Absolute must Read / Hear ! excellent

gives great detail to the cold war period. how a KGB spy saved the world from nuclear war.

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  • Jukka
  • 2019-03-12

Thrilling

Sometimes truth can be more exciting than fiction, and this is one such case. Gripping.

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  • Jp Rossouw
  • 2019-03-11

Fabulous insight to KGB Affairs

Great audible reader. Great insight to what really happened behind the iron curtain and how one man risked his life for his own believes.

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  • Mark
  • 2019-01-20

A bit documentery style but interesting insight

A bit documentery style but interesting insight into the cold war and well narrated by the author.