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  • Published: 3 December 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241408506
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $55.00

Agent Sonya

Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy

The incredible story behind the greatest female spy in history from one of Britain's most acclaimed historians

In a quiet English village in 1942, an elegant housewife emerged from her cottage to go on her usual bike ride. A devoted wife and mother-of-three, the woman known to her neighbours as Mrs Burton seemed to epitomise rural British domesticity.

However, rather than pedalling towards the shops with her ration book, she was racing through the Oxfordshire countryside to gather scientific intelligence from one of the country's most brilliant nuclear physicists. Secrets that she would transmit to Soviet intelligence headquarters via the radio transmitter she was hiding in her outdoor privy.

Far from a British housewife, 'Mrs Burton' - born Ursula Kuczynski, and codenamed 'Sonya' - was a German Jew, a dedicated communist, a colonel in Russia's Red Army, and a highly-trained spy. From planning an assassination attempt on Hitler in Switzerland, to spying on the Japanese in Manchuria, and helping the Soviet Union build the atom bomb, Sonya conducted some of the most dangerous espionage operations of the twentieth century. Her story has never been told - until now.

Agent Sonya is the exhilarating account of one woman's life; a life that encompasses the rise and fall of communism itself, and altered the course of history.

  • Published: 3 December 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241408506
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $55.00

Also by Ben Macintyre

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Praise for Agent Sonya

The best true spy story I have ever read

John le Carré on 'The Spy and the Traitor'

Thrilling...Macintyre will have you hooked to her life's every twist and turn

Lucy Knight, Times/Sunday Times Books of the Year

Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else. He has a remarkable ability to construct a narrative that is as taut and urgent as it is carefully nuanced.

John Preston, Evening Standard

Macintyre has found a real-life heroine worthy of his gifts as John le Carré's nonfiction counterpart

New York Times

This book is classic Ben Macintyre...quirky human details enliven every page... it is Macintyre's own vivid retelling of her perilous professional, personal and political life that make Agent Sonya such an accessible spy story.


He has the unerring gift of uncovering those astonishing truths that make even the best novelists of espionage seem both earthbound and artificial in comparison

Daily Telegraph

His best book yet

The Times

Another year, another blockbuster real-life spy tome... Think John le Carré at his early best - but fact not fiction

Daily Express

He...spins gloriously through one of the most extraordinary private lives of the 20th century

Daily Mail, Book of the Week

In Agent Sonya, Macintyre has pulled off his most remarkable trick: he leaves us admiring, and even cheering for, the woman at the heart of his story, someone who not only wanted to destroy our democracy but helped Russia get a nuclear bomb. She is the strongest character of all in Macintyre's bestselling series of wartime tales... I raced through the pages to keep up with the plot

Evening Standard

This impeccably researched account of her double life spans continents and is brilliantly compelling

Sunday Mirror

Macintyre's page-turner is a dazzling portrait of a flawed yet driven individual who risked everything (including her children) for the cause

Sunday Times

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