Harry's Trees

The Spy and the Traitor

by Ben Macintyre

Overview: The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

Deanna Boe (10/10/18): I dare anyone who is not into spy stories to read this and not be totally involved and fascinated. For all of you non-fiction readers, this is the book for you! It is a story about a spy from the USSR during the Cold War whose knowledge had tremendous impact not only on the Western world, but also Russia and the entire world. I love to casually pick up a book and discover events I knew nothing about and how the outcome could have made a difference for all of us. This is about a “real” spy who sacrificed everything to do what he felt was right, Oleg Gordievsky, who worked for the KGB in the Soviet Union. In fact, his whole family had been connected to the KGB which makes his sacrifice even more amazing.

Oleg Gordievsky (and yes all the Russian names can become confusing) was an extremely intelligent man who soon viewed all that the USSR was trying to achieve as inappropriate for the actual rights of mankind. He could see beyond the Communist doctrine and realize it was not what the world needed. These feelings had started before he left Russia and was sent to Denmark as an undercover spy but it didn’t take long for his eyes to be opened as to what life was like outside of the Soviet Union. It was here that he approached the British intelligence service, or M16, and wanted to “spy” for them. From that point on we read about the ins and outs of Oleg’s life and how he was ultimately sent to Britain and the impact that would actually have on the whole world and this is not an exaggeration.

Oleg was in a position to know that the USSR “thought” the Western world was getting ready to send nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. Because the Soviet’s believed this, Oleg was able to tell the Western world exactly what was happening and warn them of the possible outcome. He gave information to Margaret Thatcher and eventually Ronald Reagan that possibly would never have reached them otherwise. In short, he helped President Reagan to ultimately declare those now very famous words: “Mr. Gorbachev - tear down this wall.”

As fascinating as all of this was to read about, it was even more intriguing to read how Oleg’s escape from Russia was carried out! If I had read this in a novel, I would have thought: “Come on, this could never happen. Someone with a very devious mind must have written this.” In short, I have new respect for some of the famous authors who write about spies and the plots they suggest and how they aren’t all that far off the mark.

All I can say is simply this: if you enjoy reading, fiction or non-fiction, this is one very interesting book. I can wholeheartedly suggest it for your reading enjoyment!
Rating: *****

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