Sunday, September 1, 2019

My Washington Times Review of Ben Macintyre's 'The Spy And The Traitor'

The Washington Times published my review of Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War.

John le Carre, the author of the classic spy thrillers “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” called Ben Macintyre’s book “The best true spy story I have ever read.”

Now out in paperback, Mr. Macintyre’s “The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War” is the true story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB colonel who spied for the British and later defected to the United Kingdom in 1985.

Oleg Gordievsky was born into the KGB: Shaped by it, loved by it, twisted, damaged, and very nearly destroyed by it. The Soviet spy service was in his heart and in his blood. His father worked for the intelligence service all his life, and wore his KGB uniform every day, including weekends. The Gordievskys lived amid the spy fraternity in a designated apartment block, ate special food reserved for officers, and spent their free time socializing with other spy families. Gordievsky was a child of the KGB,” Mr. Macintyre writes in the beginning of the book.

The author notes that the KGB — the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnnosti, or Committee for State Security — was the most complex and far-reaching intelligence agency ever created. The KGB had the role of both foreign and domestic intelligence gathering, as well as internal security enforcement and state police. The KGB controlled every aspect of life in the Soviet Union.

Gordievsky moved up the chain in the KGB to become the “rezident,” the senior KGB intelligence officer in London, working out of the Soviet embassy. For more than 10 years he was also working as a double agent for the British.       

As Mr. Macintyre points out in his outstanding book, Gordievsky became disillusioned with Soviet communism while posted in Copenhagen. The Soviet police state paled in comparison to the freedom of the West. His disillusionment became total after the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 and he decided to spy for the British.  

His intelligence was so valuable that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan were given briefings on Gordievsky’s insights into the KGB and Soviet political leadership. The CIA was not told who the Brit spy was, so they launched an investigation to learn who the valuable British asset was. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 

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