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Tuesday, December 1, 2020


An exceptionally well researched book, and an excellent read. (Review by Christine E Hann)

Agent Sonya is the first book of Ben Macintyre’s I have read. I found the insight and level of detail into the history and times of Agent Sonya (Ursula Kuczynski: 1907–2000) provided me with a window to the events leading up to WW2, and thereafter, from the unique perspective of a woman who evaded capture many times, despite being a spy in several countries for the Red Army, and later a handler for what then became known as the GRU. Agent Sonya also handled the agent who stole Britain and America’s most critical atomic bomb secrets for Josef Stalin.

All this behind the simple façade of an ordinary housewife and mother of three children, who blended into the lives of the towns she resided in, be it in Germany (where she was born to a Communist-sympathising Jewish family), to China, Russia, Switzerland, parts of America and Britain as well. The inside story of how she became the person she was, to the spy and handler she became.

To quote Macintyre, as a Soviet spy, “She spent her adult life fighting for something she believed to be right, and died knowing that much of it had been wrong.” As we follow Ursula’s life story, we meet and gain insight into the lives of several other well-known figures, who played their part in her life, and that of history as well.

Some of the author’s other books include: Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unity that sabotaged the Nazis and changed the nature of war; Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies and The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan.

Ben Macintyre is a renowned British author, historian, and reviewer. He regularly presents BBC series based on his books, several of which have been turned into films. He is also a columnist and Associate Editor at The Times newspaper, and has worked as a newspaper correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington.

Agent Sonya is a book for readers of fiction that provides a wide background and details into a part of history that is largely unknown to the public. An exceptionally well-researched book, and an excellent read.

Agent Sonya by Ben Macintyre is published by Penguin Random House UK – 2020. ISBN 9780593136300 - Christine E Hann