Agent Sonya by Ben Macintyre

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime SpyAgent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by Ben Macintyre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sonya was the code name given by the GRU (Russian military intelligence) to Ursula Kuczynski, a German Jewess from a leftist/communist family. She was raised in Germany by well-educated and respected intellectuals in a rather privileged society. She thoroughly adopted Communist ideology and moved to China before WWII to help the Communists there resist the Nationalist (Kuomintang) government. There she was recruited by Richard Sorge, one of Russia’s most celebrated spies. She later served in Manchuria, Switzerland, and England, and underwent training in Russia as well. She turned out to have been one of Russia’s best spies throughout the Cold War. I don’t want to spoil it by giving more detail.

I’m no fan of history, especially political history, and I expected this to be a burdensome read for my book club, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s not weighed down with excessive biographic detail or wartime battle history. It’s a cracking good read and full of action throughout. People who enjoy spy tradecraft will love it. It’s astounding how she could have been (and was) overlooked and dismissed as a spy by Nazis and Swiss and English counterintelligence time and again. She also had quite a sexual history. She must have had quite a body from the various descriptions made of her. The author knows how to write, not just research, a story.

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