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Publisher's Summary

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. 

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation's communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union's top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid at the United States's nuclear first-strike capabilities and brought the world closer to the brink of war. Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky's name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain's obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets.   

Unfolding the delicious three-way gamesmanship between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union, and culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky's nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, Ben Macintyre's latest may be his best yet. Like the greatest novels of John le Carré, it brings listeners deep into a world of treachery and betrayal, where the lines bleed between the personal and the professional, and one man's hatred of communism had the power to change the future of nations.

©2018 Ben Macintyre (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

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  • Rosemary
  • Greenwich, CT, United States
  • 09-25-18

Absolutely riveting story

This is a fairly slow starter because it’s not a novel. Once it gets going it’s impossible to put down, brilliant research and marvelous narrative by John Lee.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • United States
  • 09-21-18

John Lee is GREAT!

I write very few reviews, but reading the negative review about John Lee prompted me to answer.
I've listened to many of his books, and consider him a favorite. Anyway if you enjoy espionage books, this is one of the best.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • AS
  • 09-20-18

Ben Macintyre true to form

Perhaps his best, maybe second to Agent Zigzag or A Spy Among Friends, British spy historian Ben Macintyre relates a deeply-researched and fully alive griping tale of real life intrigue, espionage, and escape, while also commenting on the utility of espionage and the moral equivalencies of both sides. Although I loved Macintyre's own reading of Rogue Heroes, glad John Lee is back to lend his voice to this wonderfully engaging story. Lee's excitement and enthusiasm, and his ability to convey Macintyre sly humor, are perfect for this story. I bought both the audiobook and kindle version, unsure of where/when I'd read it, but I found Lee's voice so captivating, that I've let him read the whole thing to me. Highly recommended, better than any spy fiction out there (save maybe Le Carre, Greene, Ambler, whose suspense, thrilling pacing, and literary prose Macintyre rivals or even bests).

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Lost almost a nights sleep to this... and well worth it.

I don’t venture into the spy genre often. I started this on a whim, enjoyed it for the first few nights I listened to it and then on the third night found myself at 4am still going, unable to sleep, it’s that tense! It also usefully filled in some holes in my British history. Thank you, a great listen!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An astounding book

With John Lee’s excellent narration, I found it even more of an experience then any fictional espionage accounting.

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Great story, good performance

This exciting spy thriller is well-paced, balancing necessary detail with narrative force and momentum. If political history and espionage are your interests, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. The reading is clear and precise, but a touch dramatic for my taste.

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One of the greatest non-fiction reads ever

This book reads like the most gripping spy novel. It is packed with history that is tantalizing and well researched. As usual John Lee’s narration is phenomenal. I recommend this to anyone and everyone who enjoys spy stories - non fiction and fiction alike.

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A Huge Achievement

This is one of those most powerful books I can remember reading in many years. I was so engrossed that I ended up listening to it all night instead of sleeping. It it is one of the most nerve_wrackong thrillers you will ever read, but is about about people who are not cartoon characters as in a typical thriller but real people with flaws and all who do extraordinarily heroic things in the name of fighting for freedom and dignity.It sort of restored some of my faith in the human race, at least for a couple of days.
I have never really liked the reader though. His voice is too clipped and grating and is annoying to listen to.

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amazing story...and it's true

wow I could not put it down...at every part of the story tension.. intrigue.. suspense... mystery..

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True and suspenseful

Great read! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time ... suspense driven without compromising on truth this was a great listen.