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A Spy Named Orphan

The Enigma of Donald Maclean
Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 15 hrs and 11 mins
Categories: History, European
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A gripping tale of betrayal and counterbetrayal that tells the story of the most enigmatic member of the Cambridge spy ring - Donald Maclean. 

Donald Maclean was a star diplomat, an establishment insider and a keeper of some of the West's greatest secrets. He was also a Russian spy, driven by passionately held beliefs, whose betrayal and defection to Moscow reverberated for decades. 

Christened ‘Orphan’ by his Russian recruiter, Maclean was the perfect spy and Britain’s most gifted traitor. But as he leaked huge amounts of top-secret intelligence, an international code-breaking operation was rapidly closing in on him. Moments before he was unmasked, Maclean vanished. 

Drawing on a wealth of previously classified material, Roland Philipps now tells this story for the first time in full. Philipps unravels Maclean’s character and contradictions: a childhood that was simultaneously liberal and austere; a Cambridge education mixing in Communist circles; a polished diplomat with a tendency to wild binges; a marriage complicated by secrets; an accelerated rise through the Foreign Office and, above all, a gift for deception. Taking us back to the golden age of espionage, A Spy Named Orphan reveals the impact of one of the most dangerous and enigmatic Soviet agents of the 20th century, whose actions heightened the tensions of the Cold War.

©2018 Roland Philipps (P)2018 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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Best book I have listened to in a while.

Well wriien and well read. Great insight into a man who was much more than merely a 'traitor'. His struggles with alcohol and anger, his anxiety to be true to an ideology he believed could lead to world peace, his flight, his later years supporting dissidents are all laid before us with understanding by the author. On the other hand, the inefficiencies and shortcomings of the establishment were breathtaking, or was it just that MacLean's charisma and Kilby's machinations oufoxed them all. A fascinating study of, and guide to, diplomacy in the middle years of the 20th century.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sue F
  • 23-06-2018

Fascinating!

Excellent narrator. For those thinking of a life in the Secret Service, this gives an insight into the stresses involved in secrecy and having to lie to defend one's ideals. It did make me wonder how anybody could be trusted in the world of espionage.

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  • Maria Fernandez
  • 07-08-2019

Well researched and beautifully read

What a pleasure it has been to spend those hours listening to this great book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • KENNETH SYME
  • 17-04-2019

A fine biography, seen in context of its time.

One of the best biographies I can recall - well researched but not encumbered with irrelevant detail. Excellentllently read by Jonathan Keeble.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Keith H. Slater
  • 15-04-2019

loved it!

Really enjoyed it!. The reading by Jonathan Keeble was superb. I will lookout for him again.

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  • Daniel Parry
  • 12-09-2018

Great story

An enjoyable listen. A great story well read. I would sincerely recommend the audio book.

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  • A. D. Buckingham
  • 11-07-2020

interesting story which joins the dots

Interesting story which joins the dots between the Cambridge 5. Spoilt by the narrator's tendency to make made up noises prior to every quote. Highly irritating!

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  • sophie
  • 29-02-2020

Yeah but why?

This biography conscientiously documents a life but somehow studiously avoids any real intimacy. The motivation of a person to lead a double life, to have this rich, often mad, secret life, is swept under the carpet. Once defected there is maybe one sentence describing his wife ( poor, long suffering woman - never really alluded to other that geographically) and how she moved in with Kim Philby! This is stated, time of affair noted, and then on with dates, and details that bring nothing into felt life.
He was always the shadowy enigma - the dull one of the three, I doubt he was, but this book does little to elucidate. However, well researched, a good narrator, and interesting for all that.

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  • Dunblane1
  • 12-06-2018

An excellent read!

This is a comprehensive,very well written and researched account. I learnt a lot more about this man's character and dealings than from any previous source.

1 person found this helpful