The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre Book Summary


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The standoff between the USSR and the West in the second 50% of the twentieth century could have swelled into atomic war at any minute. It was a frightening time to be alive. As a major aspect of the showdown, the two sides created colossal systems of covert agents and advancements to screen what the other was doing.


Obviously, spying is a hazardous business. Spies can change sides at any minute, at times for cash, in some cases on the standard. The life of KGB operator Oleg Gordievsky is a valid example. He swung toward the West and turned into a twofold specialist. In the long run, his activities changed the world as we probably are aware of it, and apparently even helped with concluding the Cold War. In this rundown, you’ll pursue the life of Oleg Gordievsky, figure out how he turned into a knowledge officer and how he was enticed by the West.


Oleg Gordievsky appeared to be bound to join the KGB yet wound up disappointed with socialism since the beginning.


The socialist Soviet Union’s notoriety for its startlingly powerful state mechanical assembly has scarcely diminished since its disintegration in 1991. One name still in a flash review the inescapable dread that perplexed the nation: The KGB. The Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, or Committee for State Security, was the nation’s essential security office. To say the least, it was heartlessly proficient.

Oleg Gordievsky’s dad, Anton Lavrentyevich Gordievsky was a long-lasting individual from the KGB. Despite the fact that the accurate subtleties are rare, he likely distinguished many “foes of the state” amid the Great Purge of 1936-8. This state crusade under Stalin brought about the homicide of a huge number of blameless individuals. In spite of the fact that he never talked about these outrages, Gordievsky was glad for his job in the KGB, notwithstanding picking to wear his uniform on the ends of the week.

Oleg Gordievsky was brought into the world on 10 October 1938. It appeared that he, similar to his sibling Vasili, was guaranteed to work at the KGB because of his dad’s participation. That was exactly how it functioned with the offspring of KGB individuals.

Gordievsky’s profession way to the KGB was settled, yet his still, small voice was definitely not. From at an early stage, there were signs that he was malcontented with the socialist belief system energizing the association.



Two early effects on Gordievsky were his mom, a delicate protester who kept a peaceful separation from Soviet philosophy, and his grandma. The last kept her religious convictions mystery, an outright need in a nation where religious confidence was illicit.

When 17-year-old Gordievsky enlisted at Russia’s most regarded college for ambassadors, lawmakers, and spies – the Moscow State Institute of International Relations – a change was noticeable all around.

After Stalin’s demise in 1953, his successor Nikita Khrushchev started to change a portion of the Soviet Union’s most onerous practices, for instance, enabling outsiders to visit, just as making recently prohibited productions and magazines accessible.


Gordievsky was in this manner ready to gain increasingly about the West from outside papers and periodicals in the foundation’s library. Around evening time, he started tuning his radio to the BBC World Service and Voice of America, despite the fact that that was as yet taboo.

Around this time, he found a friend at the establishment, Stanislaw Kaplan. Like Gordievsky, he was doubtful about socialism. The two turned out to be quick companions and regularly went out running together. In spite of the fact that neither Gordievsky nor Kaplan had yet dropped their steadfastness to socialism, unmistakably this fellowship would shape the remainder of their lives.


Gordievsky’s first encounters outside the Soviet Union strengthened his disappointment with socialism.


In spite of Khrushchev’s push for change, in the mid-1950s, the nation’s 280 million occupants were still basically living in an epic jail. The administration saw the Western free enterprise as an existential risk and esteemed it basic to shield the masses from the impact of the West.

All natives were thusly checked by individuals from the KGB, who numbered more than 1 million altogether. The political atmosphere was overflowing with indoctrinating and paranoid ideas. Gordievsky saw this in real life, and his questions about socialism began to reemerge.

In particular, he encountered a difference in the heart when he finished his investigations in 1961. He was met for a situation at the KGB and was presented for a half year on East Berlin before authoritatively beginning. Amid this time he saw the development of the Berlin Wall, which truly jumped up medium-term.

For the 22-year-old Gordievsky, the hugeness was clear. The divider was nothing not exactly a jail divider intended to keep East Germans secured up in the “communist heaven” of the Moscow-upheld German Democratic Republic. There, he saw East German laborers burrowing channels along the edge of the divider to keep vehicles from intersection the fringe.

Over the coming years, numerous East Germans died as they fled for opportunity by moving over the fortresses or swimming over the obstruction waterways. Regardless of his questions, Gordievsky’s imbued compliance and reverence to power implied that when he was gathered to report for KGB obligation in July 1962, he properly came back to Moscow.



Be that as it may, he had the arrangement to permit himself a touch of breathing space from the Soviet routine. When his official KGB preparing was finished, Gordievsky made a point to search out a situation in which he would be posted outside the Soviet Union.

Since wedded KGB individuals were bound to get such postings, Gordievsky rapidly wedded Yelena Akopian, who had her very own questions about the routine, also. So when a situation at the Soviet Embassy in Copenhagen opened, the love birds moved to Denmark in January of 1966. Gordievsky’s undertaking was to deal with the system of covert KGB spies in the nation.


Not long after in the wake of arriving, Gordievsky started to expend the Western writing that was prohibited in the Soviet Union, finding the energy for established music too. A little while later, Gordievsky wound up at expanding chances with the Soviet Union, and increasingly more thoughtful toward the Western social qualities he’d found. It was just an issue of time before these musings would transform enthusiastically.


Gordievsky endeavored to flag his contradiction to the Danish knowledge administrations, who misread the circumstance.


Following two years of living in Denmark, Gordievsky had turned a corner. What had once been basic estrangement from Soviet belief system had moved toward becoming abhorring. His mind was made up to follow up on this inclination.

The watershed minute came when Danish dissenters gathered before the Soviet Embassy in shock that the Soviet Union had pounded the purported Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968, a push to change and democratize the nation. Accordingly, the Soviet Union sent in the tanks.

Gordievsky was profoundly embarrassed and called his significant other from the international safe haven to rail against the Soviet Union’s activities. However, this was no unimportant upheaval – Gordievsky recognized what he was doing.

He was completely mindful that the Danish Intelligence Service, the Politiets Efterretningstjeneste or PET, and the Danish security administration had the consulate phone wires tapped. His call was an incognito message to the Danish experts that he was prepared to switch devotions. Lamentably, the PET totally neglected to recognize that specific piece of information.



All things considered, they previously had Gordievsky checked. They speculated that Gordievsky was a KGB specialist, giving him the codename Uncle Gormsson, after the famous tenth-century Danish lord Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormsson. They’d likewise seen Gordievsky had exploited his opportunity in the West.

On one event, Gordievsky had advanced toward Copenhagen’s shady area of town and obtained some gay explicit magazines just wondering, which he at that point appeared to his better half. The PET additionally had Gordievsky’s home bothered and realized his marriage was winding up progressively laden.


The PET come to an obvious conclusion and set up a nectar snare for Gordievsky so they could later coerce him. At a strategic gathering, a youthful Danish man recommended that he and Gordievsky leave and head to a bar. Gordievsky declined.

This confused the PET, however, they’d made a bogus estimation. Gordievsky wasn’t really gay – the magazines were insignificant interest things, and he might not have even understood the young fellow was playing with him.


Gordievsky was confused that the PET was following him. In any case, the ultra-productive KGB saw that something was up – Gordievsky was being followed more than any other individual at the government office. Uncertain what precisely was going on, they figured it did not merit the hazard and got back to him to Moscow.

The Danish Intelligence Service and Gordievsky had passed like ships in the night. At last, as we will see, it was the British who got him.


In 1970, Gordievsky was hailed as an individual of intrigue and drawn closer by MI6 to spy for the British.


Nobody turns into a twofold operator medium-term, and Gordievsky was no exemption. It required drawn out and fastidious exertion to get him to keep an eye on Mother Russia. Gordievsky came back to Moscow in 1970, displeased that no outside power had reached him. Much to his dismay, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, as of now had their eyes on him.

MI6 had first experienced Gordievsky’s name in a question composed by Stanislaw Kaplan, Gordievsky’s old companion from college. Kaplan had himself abandoned while on a stay in France, before settling in Canada.

In the record, Kaplan recognized Gordievsky as demonstrating “clear indications of political thwarted expectation” while the two were at college. Thus, MI6 hailed the Gordievsky as an “individual of intrigue.” He was given the codename SUNBEAM.

As it occurred, in the year following his arrival, Gordievsky started to rapidly ascend through the positions, which before long enabled him to come back to Denmark. There, MI6 would at long last get an opportunity to approach him, and they realized exactly who to use for the assignment.



In November 1973, Kaplan himself showed up at Gordievsky’s entryway. As they had lunch together, Kaplan entertained Gordievsky with accounts of his absconding and his encounters in Czechoslovakia. Gordievsky showed extensive compassion and did not demonstrate that he planned to refresh the KGB about Kaplan’s abrupt appearance.

Richard Bromhead, Denmark’s MI6 station boss, chose to approach Gordievsky amid his ordinary badminton coordinate, which he played each morning.

There, Gordievsky and Bromhead organized to meet secretly for lunch three days after the fact. Gordievsky was sure that Bromhead was exploring for MI6. The gathering went well, at that point nothing. Bromhead held up eight months before showing up by and by the badminton court – may be another gathering was all together?


This time they met in the bar of the new SAS lodging. Gordievsky was all the more ready to share his story. He answered directly to Bromhead’s inquiries in regards to who was entrusted with social event political insight in Gordievsky’s area.

A lot shockingly, Gordievsky gave him the name as well as declared that it was himself! Gordievsky additionally uncovered that he hadn’t referenced theirs before experience to the KGB. They at that point consented to locate a safe area to meet more. This meeting at the SAS in viably affirmed MI6’s instinct that Gordievsky was set up to turn. SUNBEAM was prepared to sparkle.


As he started life as an MI6 twofold specialist, Gordievsky additionally set out on a relationship.


Before long, Gordievsky’s twofold life at the international safe haven was supplemented by a comparable game plan in his private life. In a condo on the opposite side of Copenhagen, a long way from the Soviet Embassy, Gordievsky organized to consistently meet his MI6 case officer two times per month for as long as two hours on end.

Gordievsky’s new KGB job included gathering insight and endeavoring to “undermine Western organizations.” This is actually what the MI6 were keen on. They realized the USSR was endeavoring to cut Western organizations down yet had no clue what their strategy was.

What’s more, they needed to set up defenses against it. Thusly, because of his preparation as an insight officer, there couldn’t have been a superior twofold specialist than Gordievsky for this undertaking.

After a short time, Gordievsky was providing his handlers with a wide range of delicious data, including the KGB’s strategies for planting its government agents the world over.



What’s more, Gordievsky started carrying reels of microfilm out of the Soviet international safe haven for MI6 to duplicate. Basically, MI6 had struck gold. No twofold operator coordinated Gordievsky’s position at the KGB. Realizing that this relationship would profit by an individual touch, they presented to Gordievsky a card to say thanks from the head of MI6 himself.

In spite of his grip of Western social qualities, Gordievsky was all the while something of a conventionalist. His marriage endured when his significant other Yelena wouldn’t cook for him or have youngsters. In any case, separate from sat awkwardly in the socialist belief system and was certain to harm his bearer at the KGB.


Not long after he began meeting his MI6 case officer, in an inconsequential improvement, the Soviet envoy’s significant other acquainted Gordievsky with Leila Aliyeva. Leila was 28 and had moved to Denmark to work for the World Health Organization. As it occurred, she was the little girl of a KGB significant general. She and Gordievsky rapidly fell for one another. Be that as it may, Gordievsky realized he needed to keep his life as a twofold specialist calm.

Anyway, much he needed to tell Leila, at last, there was no chance he could chance to impart such risky data to her. Tragically, such privileged insights would one day negatively affect the relationship.


Back in the Soviet Union, regardless of MI6 being prepared to design his getaway, Gordievsky engineered a course to London.


In the spring of 1978, Gordievsky’s time in Denmark was finding some conclusion. Realizing it would be unreasonably unsafe for them to meet with Gordievsky in Moscow, MI6 concocted a getaway plan for him. The arrangement, code-named PIMLICO, was contrived by Veronica Price, an expert in crisis escape plans for covert operators.

PIMLICO included Gordievsky standing around by a bread shop in Moscow holding a British Safeway plastic basic supply sack. He’d wear a dark top and pants.

To demonstrate that the Moscow-based part of MI6 had gotten the flag, an MI6 officer would stroll past him with an effectively recognizable green pack from Harrods – the famous extravagance retail establishment in London – while tucking into a KitKat or Mars bar.

At that point, after three days, Gordievsky would board the sleeper train to Leningrad. He would set out toward a meeting point on the Finnish outskirt. A British discretionary vehicle going from Moscow would lift him up and carry him over the fringe to Finland, stuffed in the vehicle’s trunk.

Gordievsky was not the only one in feeling that the arrangement was extremely hazardous. Fortunately, in any case, the arrangement demonstrated superfluous as Gordievsky discovered his own particular manner to the UK.



In 1979, Gordievsky separated Yelena, which, as he had suspected, provoked a lifelong droop. He wound up downgraded to a staff segment of the KGB, where he composed chronicles of Soviet secret activities. Clearly, in this situation, there was no reasonable method to find out about current KGB activities. In any case, that equivalent year he wedded once more, this opportunity to Leila.

Gordievsky exploited his vocation doldrums and tried out a KGB course for learning English. By 1981, Gordievsky had met all requirements for a British posting. In this manner, when an opening for a KGB officer at the Soviet international safe haven in London ended up accessible, Gordievsky lubed palms until the position was his.


While trusting that authorization will leave the Soviet Union, Gordievsky admirably utilized his opportunity to experience records at KGB central station and deal with the KGB’s tasks in Britain. It was definitely this kind of data that Gordievsky’s MI6 handlers were after.

At long last, on June 28, 1982, Gordievsky, Leila, and their two little girls loaded onto a trip to London.


Gordievsky’s job wide open to the harsh elements War was vital, as he gave knowledge into Soviet pioneers’ brain research.


Spying may sound sentimental, yet most covert agents aren’t really that compelling. This was not so with Gordievsky. His work for MI6 was basic in deciding the course of the Cold War. Gordievsky provided MI6 with something other than a couple of names. He was really ready to give an origination of the brain science that moved the Soviet geniuses at the leader of the administration and in the KGB.

One essential snippet of data that Gordievsky provided was the discernment pervasive in the KGB that the West would strike first in atomic war. Truth be told, the Soviets chiefs were panicked of it. Starting in 1981, they tasked the KGB with translating conceivable indications of an inevitable assault. This was task RYAN, the biggest Soviet knowledge activity to happen amid the Cold War.



Amid this phase of the war, America’s talk had turned out to be progressively forceful. President Reagan even bludgeoned the USSR as a “malicious domain.” It was hence esteemed fundamental by the West to work out the precise pitch of Soviet nervousness over Western animosity. All things considered, in the event that it was excessively incredible, the USSR could possibly strike first in the barrier.

MI6 passed their data on Soviet brain research to the US’s insight administration, the CIA, trying to camouflage their source all the while. As an immediate outcome, the Americans acknowledged they would need to mitigate their talk significantly to avoid the likelihood of a Soviet atomic assault.


What’s more, Gordievsky really helped with wrapping the Cold War up by indicating the two sides how they could speak with each other. Much the same as the obstruction in the 2016 US presidential battle, in 1983 the Soviets were trying to encourage the communist Labor Party’s way to the British government.

They figured it is elusive a partner in Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party. In the general race that year, nonetheless, Thatcher won by an embarrassing margin. It was Gordievsky who given briefings on how she ought to carry on with the Soviets.

He explicitly exhorted her to be friendlier in her open depiction of Soviets pioneers. He knew that they could be immediately irritated and naturally return to protectiveness.


At the same time, MI6 was giving Gordievsky data to make him resemble a talented usable in his reports back to Moscow. Points included subjects for dialog with British legislators, just as bits of knowledge on British government officials’ identities.

As a result, Gordievsky reshaped the way the West and the Soviet Union pondered one another and how channels of correspondence worked. His effect on the course of mankind’s history ought not to be overlooked.


A CIA twofold specialist ruined Gordievsky’s disguise, and he was sent back to Moscow.


Being a twofold specialist is a high stakes diversion. In some cases, it might appear to be ideal to consider it daily, imperfection and get the hellfire out. Different occasions it’s better just to continue playing those cards.

MI6 had been sustaining Gordievsky data to guarantee he could ascend the positions of the KGB. The thought was to awe the KGB while at the same time cautiously evacuating hindrances to his prosperity. For example, they ousted Arkadi Guk, Gordievsky’s predominant at the Soviet international safe haven, from Britain.

At that point, abruptly, the surprising occurred. In May 1985, not long after he had been elevated to Residenz – the most astounding discretionary position – Gordievsky was advised that a quick come back from London to Moscow was requested. It was exceptionally suspicious that the Soviets needed him back – maybe they’d timed his treachery. In any case, he chose to hazard traveling to Moscow as opposed to surrendering toward the West.

Half a month in the wake of arriving in Moscow, Gordievsky was pulled to a KGB compound where he was tranquilized and squeezed to admit that he was keeping an eye in the interest of the British. Gordievsky demonstrated a mistake to his captors – he would not admit.



He was then discharged and downgraded. Probably, the arrangement was to screen him and catch him in the demonstration of spying for British. He was not allowed the chance to leave the USSR.

It was not until numerous years after the fact that anybody outside the KGB had any thought what chain of occasions had brought about Gordievsky’s detainment. It turned out there had been a nark inside the CIA. The CIA itself had gotten the occasions underway.


The CIA was determined to working out the personality of MI6’s prize witness. They entrusted officer Aldrich Ames with this activity. Lamentably, Ames was a twofold operator for the Soviets and was passing on all that he figured out how to his handler. However, Ames was not of a similar class as Gordievsky, yet persuaded by cash alone.

Philosophy had nothing to do with it. Truth be told, it’s assessed he earned $4.6 million from the Soviet Union while advising for them.

Gordievsky was progressively on edge that the KGB would one day seek him. Everything he could do was be happy he was as yet alive and endeavor to convince Leila of his honesty.


Gordievsky prevailing with regards to getting away from the Soviet Union yet needed to desert his family.


The inquiry for both MI6 and Gordievsky was plain enough. Could PIMLICO, the complicated arrangement for sneaking him out of the Soviet Union, really work? MI6 had no clue where their man was. He had evaporated someplace behind the Iron Curtain. At that point, half a month after his cross-examination by the KGB, Gordievsky understood that he essentially needed to hazard making a getaway, regardless of whether that implied abandoning his family.

MI6 had not seen him for a considerable length of time and didn’t know whether he was as yet alive. In any case, all of a sudden, on July 16, 1985, a man wearing a dim top and holding a Safeway sack was seen before a bread shop. It was Gordievsky. The Moscow-based MI6 specialists jumped vigorously.

Completely mindful that the KGB had them all irritated, the spouse of one British negotiator who was himself an MI6 spy professed to have an abrupt assault of back agony. There was no decision, they guaranteed, yet to drive to Finland for the best possible therapeutic consideration.

Obviously, they were certainly not to illuminate the listening KBG bugs that the arrangement was a trick to soul Gordievsky and his family over the outskirt.



Gordievsky had his very own work to do – he needed to ensure Leila could be trusted. Out on their gallery, past the KGB amplifiers, he inquired as to whether she needed to escape, coming back to Britain with their youngsters. To his failure, she rejected the thought.

Along these lines, he arrived at the dismal resolution that Leila and his girls presented too incredible a hazard. They would need to remain.

So after three days, as concurred with MI6, Gordievsky advanced toward the Finnish fringe. His preparation from the KGB was utilized against them as the prevailing with regards to losing his trailers in transit. The MI6 operators figured out how to get Gordievsky at the meeting point inconspicuous by the KGB. They’d even carried another couple with an infant along to make it resemble a family trip.


Gordievsky, presently in the storage compartment, was as yet not sheltered. Mutts at the fringe intersection could smell him. In a snapshot of motivation, one of the specialists dropped some stinky British potato chips out of the vehicle window to occupy them.

At that point, motivation struck, and the infant was brought out. Its diaper was changed on the storage compartment, simply above Gordievsky. Both of these exhibitions in all likelihood spared his life.


At long last, subsequent to the intersection the fringe, every single clear was given. The primary subject from Finlandia – the Finnish writer Jean Sibelius’ most popular work – resonated through the vehicle.

It was a demonstration of unmatched brave, not least with respect to the child. Truth be told, a couple of Russians today trust that MI6 was set up to utilize a child as spread amid an exfiltration mission.


Gordievsky discovered comfort in suburbia of London, secured by MI6.


Gordievsky’s story is an entrancing one, yet not all accounts end cheerfully. Safe in London, however, separated from his family, misery before long set in. Things were additionally troublesome for Leila and youngsters. Humiliated by Gordievsky’s bad form, the KGB viably held his family prisoner in the Soviet Union. It was a merciless vengeance.

For a considerable length of time after, MI6’s task HETMAN endeavored to rejoin the family. Margaret Thatcher even pushed for their removal at whatever point she met with Soviet pioneer Mikhail Gorbachev.

Obviously, stuck in the Soviet Union, Leila was maddened at her significant other, particularly since he kept up the untruth that he was only an honest, faithful KGB officer. Obviously, she had officially made sense of reality. Vadim Bakatin, the new and last leader of the KGB, was resolved to make his first demonstration an emblematic one.

The fear related to the organization would be no more. Consequently, at long last, the family was brought together in London on September 6, 1991, only three months before the Soviet Union itself broke up. However, there was a lot to pardon. The pair separated in 1993.

Gordievsky’s life in a state of banishment could without much of a stretch be portrayed as one of depression. In any case, he has been commended for his endeavors and won much close to home praise. He even visited the world, demystifying the inward functions of the KGB, meeting Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan all the while.



The Queen additionally gave him respects for his administration in 2007, naming him Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George.

He’s likewise busied himself by co-creating various powerful tomes on Soviet undercover work. In a peaceful dim London suburb, Gordievsky carries on with his life, still under the security of MI6. His endeavors changed the world as we probably are aware it, however maybe even his nearest neighbors still don’t have a clue who he truly is.


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


For KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky, the socialist beliefs he had been raised with were no counterpart for presentation to genuine socialist practice and Western philosophy. He turned into a twofold operator for MI6. Over long stretches of life-gambling administration, Gordievsky gave knowledge into the brain science of the Soviet authority which the Western forces had the capacity to put to utilize. At last, he added as far as possible of the Cold War before authorizing a challenging departure out of the Soviet Union, never to return.


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