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About the Author

Gordon Corera has been the BBC's National Security Correspondent since 2004. He has reported from London, Moscow and Washington and is the only journalist to have interviewed serving heads of both the CIA and MI6. He has covered first hand many of the central episodes in the spy-wars between the three countries. He is the author of several books including Secret Pigeon Service and MI6: Life and Death in the British Secret Service. He has also written and presented BBC documentaries about MI6, the CIA and Russia. He lives in England.



'This [is a] superb study of the illegals system ... In the West it was erroneously assumed that the illegals programme ended with the Cold War, but as Corera proves it was ramped up and modernised by Putin for the 21st century ... Alexander Poteyev was a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who rose to become deputy head of Directorate S. His story, told here for the first time, is an extraordinary one... Corera tells this astonishing tale with deft authority, placing it in the wider context of Russian intelligence strategy. Few are better versed in the intricacies of the continuing spy war between East and West.' Ben Macintyre, The Times

'Extremely readable ... A lively and disturbing account of the extraordinary events that led to, and the terrible ones that followed, the Vienna spy swap in 2010, an episode perhaps best remembered in the West for Anna Chapman, the strikingly beautiful socialite who turned out to be a Russian spy.' Telegraph


'This is an amazing story' Simon Mayo

'As I read it, I found myself muttering, again and again, the World War II expression: "It's too fantastic." It really is ... No Frederick Forsyth thriller could be as gripping as this real-life story ... Corera's gripping book is an intoxicating mixture of comedy and high seriousness' Daily Mail

'[An] extraordinary, colourful and moving story...[a] thrilling tale' Christopher Hart, Sunday Times

'Corera is to be congratulated for bringing to light, with humour and verve, a virtually unknown chapter of the war' Daily Telegraph

'An amazing story.' Nicholas Reynolds, author of Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy

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