cover image Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy

Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy

Ben Macintyre. Crown, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-13630-0

Macintyre (The Spy and the Traitor) recounts the life and career of Soviet intelligence officer Ursula Kuczynski (1907–2000) in this fascinating history. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Germany, Kuczynski was an active communist by the time she was 17. In 1930, she married a young German architect and moved with him to Shanghai, where she was recruited by (and became the lover of) infamous Red Army intelligence agent Richard Sorge, who gave her the code name Sonya and made her a “trusted lieutenant” in his spy network. After further training in the Soviet Union and divorce from her husband, Kuczynski liaised with communist partisans in Manchuria, providing material assistance and sending regular radio messages to Moscow. She also managed operations in Poland and Switzerland before arriving in England in 1941, where she transmitted atomic secrets to the Soviet Union from Klaus Fuchs, a German physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project. Upon Fuchs’s capture, Kuczynski fled to East Germany, but soon grew disillusioned with Stalin’s paranoid brand of communism. After a 20-year career, she became one of the few Soviet agents allowed to leave the spy game alive. Macintyre’s richly detailed account, though a bit ponderous at times, shines a new light on two of WWII’s most notorious spy rings. Espionage fans will be thrilled. Agent: Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown. (Sept.)