Shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2018
This gripping retelling of the life of Soviet spy Donald Maclean reveals a man with an extraordinary appetite for self-destruction.
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. He 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.