A Spy Named Orphan: The Soviet Agent Who Stole the West's Greatest Secrets (Paperback)

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"[A] lively and beautifully engineered biography." —John Banville, New York Review of Books

Donald Maclean was one of the most treacherous spies of the Cold War era, a member of the infamous "Cambridge Five" spy ring, yet the extent of this shrewd, secretive man’s betrayal has never fully been explored. Drawing on formerly classified files, A Spy Named Orphan documents the extraordinary story of a model diplomat leading a chilling double-life until his exposure and defection to the USSR.

Philipps describes a man prone to alcoholic rages, who rose through the ranks of the British Foreign Office while secretly transmitting through his Soviet handlers reams of diplomatic and military intelligence on the atom bomb and the shape of the postwar world. A mesmerizing tale of blind faith and fierce loyalty alongside dangerous duplicity and human vulnerability, Philipps’s narrative will stand as the definitive account of the man codenamed "Orphan."

About the Author

Roland Philipps is the grandson of Roger Makins, the last man from the Foreign Office to see Donald Maclean before his escape to the Soviet Union. He was publishing director of Hodder & Stoughton and Macmillan, London, and managing director of John Murray Publishers. He lives in London.

Praise For…

Brilliantly fluent.… [T]his biography first grips and then lingers long in the mind. It is a page-turner of the most empathetic kind.
— Rachel Cooke - The Guardian

Roland Philipps relates the complex narrative of Maclean’s treason—and those of his colleagues—with tremendous aplomb, limpidity and acuity.
— William Boyd - New Statesman

Fascinating and page-turning. An exceptional story of espionage and betrayal, thrillingly told. I devoured it.
— Philippe Sands, author of East West Street

Philipps sets a great example by being punchy and hard-nosed in his handling of facts, but pliant, imaginative and humane in his understanding of motives and emotions.
— Richard Davenport-Hines - The Guardian

Excellent.… What fascinates Philipps is not what Maclean did but why he did it.… Philipps’ real achievement is to show the toll this took on Maclean’s conflicted psyche.
— Dominic Sandbrook - The Sunday Times (UK)

Fresh and thought-provoking throughout.
— Giles Udy - The Times (UK)

The definitive account of the life of a ‘gifted’ traitor.… [B]y drawing on a wealth of previously classified material, Philipps weaves a gripping tale of misplaced loyalty, intrigue and betrayal that is unlikely to be bettered.
— Daily Express

Donald Maclean was arguably the most valuable, and certainly the most troubled, of the Cambridge spies. Roland Philipps knows the world that formed him and has given us the fullest account we’ve yet had not only of his treason but of the conflicted man who committed it.
— Joseph Kanon, New York Times best-selling author of Defectors

From his riveting re-creation of the Cold War atmosphere to his in-depth exploration of such a brilliant, troubled, and duplicitous character, Roland Philipps has created a masterpiece. The rich renderings of secret assignations, smuggled documents, damning intelligence, and brilliant code-breaking will delight lovers of fiction and nonfiction alike. Picture Erik Larson meets John le Carré and you have only begun to scratch the surface of this absolutely gripping book.
— Brad Thor, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Use of Force

With A Spy Named Orphan, the last piece of this bizarre jigsaw falls into place. The outline story is familiar, but the amount of new detail here—on Maclean’s personal, professional, and secret lives—exceeds all expectations. Roland Philipps has managed to make the new material come alive by relating it intimately to its historical context, of which he has a deep and sympathetic understanding.

— Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393356960
ISBN-10: 0393356965
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: June 11th, 2019
Pages: 448
Language: English