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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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Interesting view of a very recent history

Lots of information about how MI5 and SIS went about keeping our security leaking from 1930 to the 1960s. How we let down ourselves and our allies, how we should have changed from blindly entrusting an "elite" ruling class without hesitation.
An indictment of our lack of acceptance of loss of the empire and how we kept old institutional attitudes associated with that, how not having an open meritocracy as a template for government showed itself to be deeply flawed.
Maclean and his like were looking out for each other, protecting bad, unacceptable habits.
Public school, Oxbridge, a "one of us" attitude that still holds true, makes one wonder what blind snobbery is still damaging us today.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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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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.

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loved it!

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

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Great story

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

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Inept British old Boys .

Sad story of a deluded toff. Truly inept British Old Boys network let down the wonderful UK. Really highlights the need for a merit based way of preceding to keep the UK/USA way of life to be the prominent best solution.

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Fantastic biography of one of the Cambridge 5

I loved this well researched biography of Donald McLean. A great book for any espionage fans. The narration was excellent. I thoroughly look forward to listening to it again in the future.

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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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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.