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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Review: The Spy and the Traitor

The Spy and The Traitor is a historical account of the double agent Oleg Gordievsky. Gordievsky was a spy for the UK MI6 during a critical period, just as Mikhail Gorbachev had become the leader of the USSR. Since he was perfectly placed as chief of political intelligence in the London Bureau, MI6 was in a unique position to choreograph and brief both sides (Thatcher on the home front) of the discussion during their talks.

The book is remarkable both in terms of narrative and tension. It's usefully describes Gordievsky's position, how the KGB worked, and how MI6 worked. It included interviews with his second wife (and quotes from the first wife that were on record), and describes what it takes to be a spy: nerves of steel and an ability to hang on to his druthers despite being drugged by a truth serum and under KGB interrogation. This is much better than any James Bond novel (or even any of John Le Carre's that I've read)

The novel is an intense page turner, and I found myself reading it in exclusion to all else. It's a great book and well worth your time. You probably shouldn't even visit the Wikipedia page I linked to for Gordievsky before reading the book. That's how good it is.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

scottg said...

Mcintyre gave a fun talk on C-span book tv.
I particularly enjoyed the deus ex nappy,
that defeated the guard dogs.