100 books like Spymaster

By Oleg Kalugin,

Here are 100 books that Spymaster fans have personally recommended if you like Spymaster. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Merle Nygate Author Of The Righteous Spy

From my list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written and script edited in a lot of different genres, from factual drama to sitcom, children’s TV to fantasy. I’ve always loved spy stories, and I’ve always wanted to write one. Recently, at the University of East Anglia I studied for an MA in Crime Fiction, and that’s where I finally got the chance to study espionage and write a spy novel myself. I hope you enjoy my selection of books if you haven’t already read them. Or even if you have. They’re all so good that I feel like re-reading them right now. 

Merle's book list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves

Merle Nygate Why did Merle love this book?

This is a non-fiction book but it reads like a novel and explores one of the great mysteries of the spy world: how on earth did Kim Philby manage to betray not only his country but also his friends over so many years? 

A former spy I had the privilege of interviewing described Philby as a shit, so maybe there’s the answer. I think this is a terrific read, and although Macintyre probably isn’t a spy, like Deighton, he knows them. 

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked A Spy Among Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and…


Book cover of Darkness at Noon

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Author Of In Defense of Universal Human Rights

From my list on readable stories on human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of international human rights and comparative genocide studies. My father was a refugee from the Holocaust. So I was always interested in genocide, but I did not want to be another Holocaust scholar. Instead, I introduced one of the first university courses in Canada on comparative genocide studies. From a very young age, I was also very interested in social justice: I was seven when Emmett Till was murdered in the US. So when I became a professor, I decided to specialize in international human rights. I read a lot of “world literature” fiction that helps me to empathize with people in places I’ve never been.

Rhoda's book list on readable stories on human rights

Rhoda Howard-Hassmann Why did Rhoda love this book?

I studied under the distinguished sociologist, Immanuel Wallerstein. One day in class he said, if you read only one book, it should be this one. So I read it. 

Koestler was a Hungarian Jew who joined the German Communist Party. He became disillusioned with communism, in part because of the Stalin trials of the 1930s, in which many of Stalin’s own former allies were tortured and executed. 

The protagonist of the novel is Rubashov, a dedicated Communist who is accused of treason, tortured, and eventually executed despite confessing to his supposed crimes. The novel is a great way to learn not only about the Stalinist Soviet Union, but about any society that brain-washes its victims. 

By Arthur Koestler,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Darkness at Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The newly discovered lost text of Arthur Koestler’s modern masterpiece, Darkness at Noon—the haunting portrait of a revolutionary, imprisoned and tortured under totalitarian rule—is now restored and in a completely new translation.

Editor Michael Scammell and translator Philip Boehm bring us a brilliant novel, a remarkable discovery, and a new translation of an international classic.

In print continually since 1940, Darkness at Noon has been translated into over 30 languages and is both a stirring novel and a classic anti-fascist text. What makes its popularity and tenacity even more remarkable is that all existing versions of Darkness at Noon are…


Book cover of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case

Michael Isikoff Author Of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

From my list on Russian espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of the Cold War, I was fascinated from an early age by Russia—and the history of U.S.-Soviet relations. I still remember devouring everything I could about many of the events of the 1960’s—the Cuban Missile Crisis, the coup that replaced Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. These and much else from this period inspired me to become a journalist. And while I have had a wide-ranging and occasionally globe-trotting career, returning to the subject of U.S.-Russia relations in Russian Roulette  and the feeling that we made a genuine contribution to contemporary history—was unusually satisfying.

Michael's book list on Russian espionage

Michael Isikoff Why did Michael love this book?

For a generation of liberals and progressives, it was an article of faith that Alger Hiss, a Harvard-educated New Dealer who accompanied Franklin Roosevelt to Yalta, was railroaded by the McCarthyite tactics of the anti-Communist right when was accused – and convicted—about his past as a Communist spy. But Weinstein, who started out his book as a Hiss sympathizer, conducted a thoroughgoing re-evaluation of one of the Cold War’s most celebrated trials and concluded, on the basis of a mountain of evidence, that Hiss was in fact guilty as charged. I devoured this book when it first came out because it stands as a case study of the need to confront hard facts even when they are politically inconvenient. 

By Allen Weinstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perjury as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although almost a half-century has passed since the jury at Alger Hiss's second trial pronounced him guilty of perjury, the case remains controversial and the verdict leaves questions unanswered. The case has continued to make headlines and attract considerable media attention in the years since Perjury was first published in 1978, and this new edition of the book incorporates evidence available only in the past two decades, bringing the essential public story of the episode up to the present. The author has sought and gained access to many previously undiscovered, unavailable, or ignored sources of documentary and oral evidence, both…


Book cover of The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties

Michael Isikoff Author Of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

From my list on Russian espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child of the Cold War, I was fascinated from an early age by Russia—and the history of U.S.-Soviet relations. I still remember devouring everything I could about many of the events of the 1960’s—the Cuban Missile Crisis, the coup that replaced Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. These and much else from this period inspired me to become a journalist. And while I have had a wide-ranging and occasionally globe-trotting career, returning to the subject of U.S.-Russia relations in Russian Roulette  and the feeling that we made a genuine contribution to contemporary history—was unusually satisfying.

Michael's book list on Russian espionage

Michael Isikoff Why did Michael love this book?

No book exposed the horrors of Josef Stalin’s purges more graphically and with greater power than Robert Conquest’s epic, The Great Terror. The book chronicled how a paranoid Stalin, convinced his power was threatened by his rival Leon Trotsky and his allies, unleashed a wave of terror by his country’s NKVD—a forerunner of the KGB--  that decimated the Soviet leadership and its military with millions of Russians executed or marched to Siberian prison camps. While Stalin’s henchmen staged mock “trials” in Moscow, marked by phony confessions, extracted by torture, liberal apologists in the West sought to justify Stalin’s lunatic crackdown. I read this book in college and it has stayed with me for years-- providing an eye-opening lesson in the willingness of those of all political stripes to turn a blind eye to the evils of totalitarianism.

By Robert Conquest,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Terror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Conquest's The Great Terror is the book that revealed the horrors of Stalin's regime to the West. This definitive fiftieth anniversary edition features a new foreword by Anne Applebaum.

One of the most important books ever written about the Soviet Union, The Great Terror revealed to the West for the first time the true extent and nature Stalin's purges in the 1930s, in which around a million people were tortured and executed or sent to labour camps on political grounds. Its publication caused a widespread reassessment of Communism itself.

This definitive fiftieth anniversary edition gathers together the wealth of…


Book cover of Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West

Mark Hollingsworth Author Of Agents of Influence: How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies

From my list on the KGB, Russia and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing about Russia for the past 20 years for all the UK national newspapers, The Spectator and contributed to several TV documentaries. I am fascinated by Russia which is a unique country and has been a major influence on the world for the past 100 years. Based on new documents, my book Londongrad - From Russia with Cash revealed how Russian Oligarchs made their wealth, moved it out of Russia, hid their fortunes and then parked and spent it in London. My new book - Agents of Influence - provides an insight into how the KGB influenced the West based on new archives.

Mark's book list on the KGB, Russia and espionage

Mark Hollingsworth Why did Mark love this book?

This is a painstaking investigation into corruption at the highest level in Putin's Kremlin. 

The book demonstrates in vivid detail how Putin installed a group of former KGB officers in power who then carved up Russia's strategic assets for themselves.

They targeted one company after another, probing weaknesses and exploiting the chequered past of every businessman who had made a fortune in the chaos of privatisation during the 1990s.

By Catherine Belton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Putin's People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller | A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Named a best book of the year by The Economist | Financial Times | New Statesman | The Telegraph

"[Putin's People] will surely now become the definitive account of the rise of Putin and Putinism." —Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic

"This riveting, immaculately researched book is arguably the best single volume written about Putin, the people around him and perhaps even about contemporary Russia itself in the past three decades." —Peter Frankopan, Financial Times

Interference in American elections. The sponsorship of extremist politics in…


Book cover of The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West

Mark Hollingsworth Author Of Agents of Influence: How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies

From my list on the KGB, Russia and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing about Russia for the past 20 years for all the UK national newspapers, The Spectator and contributed to several TV documentaries. I am fascinated by Russia which is a unique country and has been a major influence on the world for the past 100 years. Based on new documents, my book Londongrad - From Russia with Cash revealed how Russian Oligarchs made their wealth, moved it out of Russia, hid their fortunes and then parked and spent it in London. My new book - Agents of Influence - provides an insight into how the KGB influenced the West based on new archives.

Mark's book list on the KGB, Russia and espionage

Mark Hollingsworth Why did Mark love this book?

Based on an unprecedented treasure trove of documents smuggled out of the Soviet Union by former intelligence officer Vasily Mitrokhin, this book demonstrated the KGB operations used in an attempt to destabilise the West during the Cold War - disinformation, forgery of documents, honey trapping, smears, surveillance and recruiting agents of influence and politicians in the UK, NATO countries and the USA.

I am recommending The Mitrokhin Archive because it is based on primary documents.  So many books about espionage are based on memories and speculation, while the Mitrokhin Archive's value is that its assertions and revelations are based on actual KGB documents. 

And so this book was indispensable for my research for my book.

By Christopher Andrew, Vasili Mitrokhin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mitrokhin Archive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the biggest intelligence coups in recent years' The Times

For years KGB operative Vasili Mitrokhin risked his life hiding top-secret material from Russian secret service archives beneath his family dacha. When he was exfiltrated to the West he took with him what the FBI called 'the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source'. This extraordinary bestselling book is the result.

'Co-authored in a brilliant partnership by Christopher Andrew and the renegade Soviet archivist himself ... This is a truly global expose of major KGB penetrations throughout the Western world' The Times

'This tale of malevolent…


Book cover of The Art of Betrayal: The Secret History of MI6

Mark Hollingsworth Author Of Agents of Influence: How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies

From my list on the KGB, Russia and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing about Russia for the past 20 years for all the UK national newspapers, The Spectator and contributed to several TV documentaries. I am fascinated by Russia which is a unique country and has been a major influence on the world for the past 100 years. Based on new documents, my book Londongrad - From Russia with Cash revealed how Russian Oligarchs made their wealth, moved it out of Russia, hid their fortunes and then parked and spent it in London. My new book - Agents of Influence - provides an insight into how the KGB influenced the West based on new archives.

Mark's book list on the KGB, Russia and espionage

Mark Hollingsworth Why did Mark love this book?

The author is the BBC's Security and Defence Correspondent and his range of contacts enriches this book. 

It is full of anecdotes about the secret world and Russia looms large in his narrative. 

He explores the psychology and motivation of why British and Russian intelligence officers spied for the enemy during the Cold War and there is an excellent chapter on how the UK security services produced some inaccurate intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war.

By Gordon Corera,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Betrayal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The secret history of MI6 - from the Cold War to the present day.

The British Secret Service has been cloaked in secrecy and shrouded in myth since it was created a hundred years ago. Our understanding of what it is to be a spy has been largely defined by the fictional worlds of James Bond and John le Carre. THE ART OF BETRAYAL provides a unique and unprecedented insight into this secret world and the reality that lies behind the fiction. It tells the story of how the secret service has changed since the end of World War II…


Book cover of Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain

Mark Hollingsworth Author Of Agents of Influence: How the KGB Subverted Western Democracies

From my list on the KGB, Russia and espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing about Russia for the past 20 years for all the UK national newspapers, The Spectator and contributed to several TV documentaries. I am fascinated by Russia which is a unique country and has been a major influence on the world for the past 100 years. Based on new documents, my book Londongrad - From Russia with Cash revealed how Russian Oligarchs made their wealth, moved it out of Russia, hid their fortunes and then parked and spent it in London. My new book - Agents of Influence - provides an insight into how the KGB influenced the West based on new archives.

Mark's book list on the KGB, Russia and espionage

Mark Hollingsworth Why did Mark love this book?

Many people have wondered why so many upper-class Englishmen brought up in the heart and highest echelons of the British Establishment betrayed their country. 

This book provides the answers and examines how their treachery influenced British foreign policy and cultural and political institutions until the end of the Cold War. It also reads extremely well and is full of colourful asides and anecdotes.

By Richard Davenport-Hines,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enemies Within as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What pushed Blunt, Burgess, Cairncross, Maclean and Philby into Soviet hands?

With access to recently released papers and other neglected documents, this sharp analysis of the intelligence world examines how and why these men and others betrayed their country and what this cost Britain and its allies.

Enemies Within is a new history of the influence of Moscow on Britain told through the stories of those who chose to spy for the Soviet Union. It also challenges entrenched assumptions about abused trust, corruption and Establishment cover-ups that began with the Cambridge Five and the disappearance of Guy Burgess and Donald…


Book cover of Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America

Neal Thompson Author Of Reckoning: Vietnam and America's Cold War Experience, 1945-1991

From my list on America’s path through the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I entered the United States Army in August 1970, two months after graduation from high school, completed flight school on November 1971, and served a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in Troop F (Air), 8th US Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade. After my discharge, I served an additional 28 years as a helicopter pilot in the Illinois National Guard, retiring in 2003. I graduated from Triton Junior College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University Law School in 1981. My passion for this subject arises, as one would expect, from my status as a veteran. My expertise is based on my own experience and 16 years of research and writing that went into the preparation of my book.

Neal's book list on America’s path through the Cold War

Neal Thompson Why did Neal love this book?

Starting in World War II, American cryptanalysts broke Soviet codes and determined that hundreds of Americans working for the Soviet Union were active within the federal government during the New Deal and throughout the Second World War. Code named Venona, this operation was a closely guarded secret until declassification in 1996. When these intercepts were combined with information acquired from Soviet archives after the collapse of the USSR, they revealed not only a massive penetration of American government, science, and industry by Soviet spies but an American Communist Party that had assisted in these efforts, serving as an arm of Soviet intelligence. In other words (quoting American Communist Party member Alfred Bernstein), “[Joseph] McCarthy was right.” “The system was loaded with Communists.”

By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Venona as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only in 1995 did the United States government officially reveal the existence of the super-secret Venona Project. For nearly fifty years American intelligence agents had been decoding thousands of Soviet messages, uncovering an enormous range of espionage activities carried out against the United States during World War II by its own allies. So sensitive was the project in its early years that even President Truman was not informed of its existence. This extraordinary book is the first to examine the Venona messages-documents of unparalleled importance for our understanding of the history and politics of the Stalin era and the early…


Book cover of Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America

Daniela Tully Author Of Hotel on Shadow Lake: A Spellbinding Mystery Unravelling a Century of Family Secrets

From my list on East Germany from an insider's point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Germany and have been living all over the globe since I was 18, including the US. I married a New Yorker 15 years ago. I am drawn to stories that combine both the German and American cultures — two worlds I feel at home in — and as reflected in my debut novel. The next one will take place between the US and East Germany - we had relatives on the other side of the Iron Curtain whom we visited frequently. I will never forget surprising my 17-year-old cousin sitting alone in the garden, crying… over a can of Coke that we had smuggled over the border to him.

Daniela's book list on East Germany from an insider's point of view

Daniela Tully Why did Daniela love this book?

Before stumbling across this memoir, while doing the research for my next novel, I had no idea that the Cold War saw German Communist spies living in the USA - but come to think of it, why shouldn’t they have existed on the other side of the Iron Curtain? Barsky’s story blew me away: he was sent by the KGB to the States as a sleeper agent. What “broke” him was not his challenging profession, but the love for his child — he eventually had two families, one in East Germany with a wife who knew about his true identity - and another one in the States, with a wife who didn’t.

He had a son with the German and a daughter with his Latin-American wife in the US. He wasn’t there when his son was born, but witnessed the birth of his daughter. When the Cold War ended and…

By Jack Barsky, Cindy Coloma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep Undercover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One decision can end everything . . . or lead to unlikely redemption.
Millions watched the CBS 60 Minutes special on Jack Barsky in 2015. Now, in this fascinating memoir, the Soviet KGB agent tells his story of gut-wrenching choices, appalling betrayals, his turbulent inner world, and the secret life he lived for years without getting caught.

On October 8, 1978, a Canadian national by the name of William Dyson stepped off a plane at O’Hare International Airport and proceeded toward Customs and Immigration.

Two days later, William Dyson ceased to exist.

The identity was a KGB forgery, used to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, espionage, and spies?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Soviet Union, espionage, and spies.

The Soviet Union Explore 319 books about the Soviet Union
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Spies Explore 574 books about spies