Ben Macintyre The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

Last updated: June 18, 2019

We looked at the top History Books and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best History Book you should buy.

Product Details

In our analysis of 60 expert reviews, the Ben Macintyre The Spy and the Traitor placed 5th when we looked at the top 9 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for The Times of London and the bestselling author of A Spy Among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among other books. Macintyre has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.

Expert Reviews

What reviewers liked

It carries all the qualities of what Macintyre has so justly become known for – precise research leading to even-handed assessments, and, where possible, using first-hand accounts to reduce the level of speculation that is otherwise so enticing to those attempting to understand the past. The Spy and The Traitor represents Macintyre’s finest work to date and has the makings of an instant screenplay.
Macintyre’s prose is elegant and enlivened with occasional asides that are eminently quotable, as well as inevitable nods to the classics of the spy genre, above all John le Carré.
MacIntyre takes us through Gordievsky’s political and social maturation process in great and colorful detail, painting a picture of a young man of privilege who slowly and skillfully worked his way up the KGB bureaucracy, which the author describes as bloated, inefficient and, at times, downright incompetent.
So you want me to tell you about a book John le Carre calls “The best true spy story I have ever read”? I found The Spy and the Traitor to be Ben Macintyre’s finest work. With this project he took a riveting, complex, important slice of Cold War history and wove it into a book as exciting as the best thriller novels. Using cliche expressions such as “I couldn’t put it down” and “the pages seemed to turn on their own” come to mind. They’re accurate.
Even a reader not enamored of spy stories will have trouble putting this one down. The whole story, including Gordievsky’s return to Moscow, where, unbeknownst to him, he had been unmasked to the KGB by Aldrich Ames, their man in the cia, followed by his harrowing, made-for-Hollywood escape from the Soviet Union, unfolds with a pace and drama that recall the novels of John le Carré.
View our History Book buying guide for in-depth advice and recommendations.

From our partners