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Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy (2020)

por Ben Macintyre

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
5682441,945 (3.95)41
"The New York Times bestselling author of The Spy and the Traitor tells the thrilling true story of the most important female spy in history: an agent code-named "Sonya," who set the stage for the Cold War. In 1942, in a quiet village in the leafy English Cotswolds, a thin, elegant woman lived in a small cottage with her three children and her husband, who worked as a machinist nearby. Ursula Burton was friendly but reserved, and spoke English with a slight foreign accent. By all accounts, she seemed to be living a simple, unassuming life. Her neighbors in the village knew little about her. They didn't know that she was a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer. They didn't know that her husband was also a spy, or that she was running powerful agents across Europe. Behind the facade of her picturesque life, Burton was a dedicated Communist, a Soviet colonel, and a veteran agent, gathering the scientific secrets that would enable the Soviet Union to build the bomb. This true-life spy story is a masterpiece about the woman code-named "Sonya." Over the course of her career, she was hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI-and she evaded them all. Her story reflects the great ideological clash of the twentieth century-between Communism, Fascism, and Western democracy-and casts new light on the spy battles and shifting allegiances of our own times. With unparalleled access to Sonya's diaries and correspondence and never-before-seen information on her clandestine activities, Ben Macintyre has conjured a page-turning history of a legendary secret agent, a woman who influenced the course of the Cold War and helped plunge the world into a decades-long standoff between nuclear superpowers."--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 24 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Hard to put down.

Another of Ben McIntyre’s classics on espionage.

And as interesting as I found the life of Ursula Kuczynski, the saga of her first husband Rudi Hamburger, his capture and torture then years spent in the Gulag was ultimately even more tragic and moving. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
This non-fiction account of a highly successful Soviet spy reads like a thriller. Ursula Kuczynski was born into a German Jewish family of communist sympathizers. She lived in China, Russia, England and finally East Germany all the while passing on secrets including information that helped Russia develop nuclear capability. Despite being married she conducted numerous affairs and led an unconventional life. She was able to avoid detection largely because she was underestimated by the male dominated intelligence agencies. ( )
  StaffPicks | Nov 28, 2023 |
In 1989, as the twice-decorated KGB agent Colonel Ursula Kuczynski shored up the floundering GDR at public rallies in East Berlin, British spy writers turned to tired cliches. ‘Agent Sonya’, wrote Chapman Pincher, had ‘no doubt, obliged her comrades with some easy sex.’ The novelist Michael Hartland assumed she was lured into Soviet intelligence by her lover, Richard Sorge. With so little known about ‘Agent Sonya’, such portraits carried weight.

But two years later, Kuczynski’s memoir Sonya’s Report was published in English and she was giving interviews in London. She was bemused by such claims, telling me that she was heavily pregnant when she first met Sorge and far more concerned with being exposed as a Soviet agent than with affairs of the heart. In fact, she was recruited through Sorge’s lover, the American writer Agnes Smedley.

Ben Macintyre’s biography, which draws on a wealth of archival material released over the past two decades, translations of Kuczynski’s novels (under the pen name Ruth Werner) and her intimate correspondence, offers a corrective. The Sonya of Macintyre’s account is a complex character, a committed communist from her childhood in 1920s Germany and an ambitious woman who endured long separations from her children. As Kuczynski said: ‘Every woman has that conflict and mine was worse because of the danger involved.’

Read the rest of the review at HistoryToday.com.

Julie Wheelwright is the author of Sisters in Arms: Female Warriors from Antiquity to the New Millennium (Osprey, 2020).
  HistoryToday | Sep 1, 2023 |
I'm starting 2021 on a high note. The life of a spy is fascinating, especially one like the woman depicted in Agent Sonya. Originating in her beginnings as a German socialist this book follows her through her tumultuous life and gives insight about how changes in geopolitical politics during the 20th Century affected her. The signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was devastating for her ideological values as all she was interested was fighting fascism. Stalin's purges were also a demoralizing event in which she lost many friends. I think one of the things that was really remarkable to me about her life was that she stayed so committed to her work while also staying committed to the people around her and built such strong relationships. She played many different roles in her life but I found the idea that she was determined to be a mother to her children while also living out her own dream of fighting fascism. Finally, I thought it was quite a poetic ending to discover that she became a writer in later life and was more famous under her pen name Ruth Werner then she was under her real name. This book was full of historical context so I will probably come back and update this as I reflect on what I read. ( )
  wolfe.myles | Feb 28, 2023 |
This historical chronicle reads like a spy novel! Knowing the events are historically accurate makes it all the more thrilling to read. Code name Sonya was a German anti-fascist who worked tirelessly with the Soviet Union to promote communism and destroy Hitler’s regime. Her various identities and creative cover stories were fascinating to follow. The fact that she raised three children while doing the covert work is sometimes not believable, but during the times that she lived, this was possible. I appreciated the end of the book where we hear from “Sonya” herself as to her regrets or misgivings along with the triumph she felt about the work she accomplished. If you enjoy WWII and Cold War history, put this at the top of your list. ( )
  beebeereads | Feb 18, 2023 |
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Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor...
What will my husband be?

A traditional counting and divination game played by young women to foretell the future
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If you had visited the quaint English village of Great Rollright in 1945, you might have spotted a thin, dark-haired, and unusually elegant woman emerging from a stone farmhouse called The Firs and climbing onto her bicycle.
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"The New York Times bestselling author of The Spy and the Traitor tells the thrilling true story of the most important female spy in history: an agent code-named "Sonya," who set the stage for the Cold War. In 1942, in a quiet village in the leafy English Cotswolds, a thin, elegant woman lived in a small cottage with her three children and her husband, who worked as a machinist nearby. Ursula Burton was friendly but reserved, and spoke English with a slight foreign accent. By all accounts, she seemed to be living a simple, unassuming life. Her neighbors in the village knew little about her. They didn't know that she was a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer. They didn't know that her husband was also a spy, or that she was running powerful agents across Europe. Behind the facade of her picturesque life, Burton was a dedicated Communist, a Soviet colonel, and a veteran agent, gathering the scientific secrets that would enable the Soviet Union to build the bomb. This true-life spy story is a masterpiece about the woman code-named "Sonya." Over the course of her career, she was hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI-and she evaded them all. Her story reflects the great ideological clash of the twentieth century-between Communism, Fascism, and Western democracy-and casts new light on the spy battles and shifting allegiances of our own times. With unparalleled access to Sonya's diaries and correspondence and never-before-seen information on her clandestine activities, Ben Macintyre has conjured a page-turning history of a legendary secret agent, a woman who influenced the course of the Cold War and helped plunge the world into a decades-long standoff between nuclear superpowers."--

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