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An Impeccable Spy

by Owen Matthews

An Impeccable Spy Synopsis

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PUSHKIN HOUSE PRIZE 'The most formidable spy in history' Ian Fleming 'A superb biography ... More than a hundred books have been written about him and this is undoubtedly the best' Ben Macintyre Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist - and the Soviet Union's most formidable spy. Like many great spies, Sorge was an effortless seducer, combining charm with ruthless manipulation. He did not have to go undercover to find out closely guarded state secrets - his victims willingly shared them. As a foreign correspondent, he infiltrated and influenced the highest echelons of German, Chinese and Japanese society in the years leading up to and including the Second World War. His intelligence regarding Operation Barbarossa and Japanese intentions not to invade Siberia in 1941 proved pivotal to the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, which in turn determined the outcome of the war. Never before has Sorge's story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives - along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge - to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as 'the most formidable spy in history'.

An Impeccable Spy Press Reviews

A fascinating biography ... Owen Matthews tells the story of Sorge's extraordinary life with tremendous verve and expertise and a real talent for mise en scene. Shanghai in the 1930s and prewar Tokyo, Sorge's stamping grounds, come vividly alive in these pages and the portrait of Sorge himself that emerges is richly authentic -- William Boyd * New Statesman * Gloriously readable ... Every chapter of Matthews's superbly researched biography reads like something from an Eric Ambler thriller -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * A superb biography ... Alive to Sorge's human flaws as much as to his professional competence, and with a salutary vein of anger running through it ... More than a hundred books have been written about him and this is undoubtedly the best: detailed, wry, sympathetic and occasionally oddly moving -- Ben Macintyre * The Times * A vividly told story, thoroughly researched and well-crafted ... I love a thrilling spy story, especially one as superbly narrated as this, full of Bond-like drama about Sorge's brushes with death, his love of fast cars and women ... A highly relevant book for today * Financial Times * Magnificently written ... An Impeccable Spy is packed with humour and insight and all served up with a rare lightness of touch ... Ben Macintyre and John le Carre fans alike will find themselves very much at home -- Oliver Bullough * Observer * Vivid and revealing ... Within a few pages, it is clear that An Impeccable Spy is going to be a very good read ... Better than any previous biography -- Christopher Andrew * Literary Review * A gripping human story with the complexity of a political thriller ... An excellent history, which sheds new light on Sorge and his work. Unless something significant turns up about him in the German Nazi-era intelligence archives, it is likely to be the definitive work on him in English * Standpoint * Brilliant ... A clear-eyed, deeply researched and finely-judged portrait -- Saul David * Telegraph * [An] impressive biography ... Matthews captures all the drama of Sorge's story ... The complexities of Soviet, German and Japanese politics and infighting of the time are skilfully navigated and the personalities brought vividly to life. With this book as our evidence, we can say that Sorge was an impeccable spy, and also that Matthews is an impeccable biographer -- Vin Arthey * Scotsman * Riveting ... An eye-rubbing story * Spectator * Anyone praised by John le Carre deserves a meticulously researched and atmospheric biography such as Own Matthews' An Impeccable Spy -- Terry Philpot * Tablet * Riveting ... Owen Matthews sticks to the facts and gives a vivid portrayal of the man and his times ... A cut above -- John Green * Morning Star * It's an incredible story and Matthews tells it very well * Daily Telegraph * Owen Matthews tells this story well, with an eye for anecdote and character, and with the help of a vast range of sources ... For those who wonder whether individuals can make a difference to history, the case of Richard Sorge will always supply a kind of answer -- Mark Mazower * Times Literary Supplement *

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408857786
Publication date: 21st March 2019
Author: Owen Matthews
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 448 pages
Categories: History,

About Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews studied Modern History at Oxford University before beginning his career as a journalist in Bosnia. He has written for the Moscow Times, The Times, the Spectator and the Independent. In 1997, he became a correspondent at Newsweek magazine in Moscow where he covered the second Chechen war, Afghanistan, Iraq and the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. His first book on Russian history, Stalin's Children, was translated into twenty-eight languages and shortlisted for The Guardian First Books Award and France's Prix Medicis.

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