The thrilling true story of Richard Sorge – the man John le Carré called ‘the spy to end spies’, and whose actions turned the tide of the Second World War
Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility.
A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist – and the Soviet Union’s most formidable spy.
Like many great spies, Sorge was an effortless seducer, combining charm with ruthless manipulation. He did not have to go undercover to find out closely guarded state secrets– his victims willingly shared them. As a foreign correspondent, he infiltrated and influenced the highest echelons of German, Chinese and Japanese society in the years leading up to and including the Second World War. His intelligence regarding Operation
Barbarossa and Japanese intentions not to invade Siberia in 1941 proved pivotal to the Soviet counteroffensive in the Battle of Moscow, which in turn determined the outcome of the war.
Never before has Sorge’s story been told from the Russian side as well as the German and Japanese. Owen Matthews takes a sweeping historical perspective and draws on a wealth of declassified Soviet archives – along with testimonies from those who knew and worked with Sorge – to rescue the riveting story of the man described by Ian Fleming as ‘the most formidable spy in history’.
- Lauded as a brilliant story of Russia from within, Stalin’s Children sold in twenty-three languages and was selected as one of the books of the year by Camilla Long in the Sunday Times, Robert Salisbury in the Spectator and Antony Beevor in the Sunday Telegraph.
- Matthews has been shortlisted for a number of awards for his works on Russia – the Orwell Prize, Pushkin Prize and the Guardian First Book Award
- Draws on hitherto unpublished files from the Soviet archives, as well as the memoirs of Boris Gudz, one of Sorge’s controllers at the Fourth Department.
- Matthews has enlisted the services of Dr Lyubov Vinogradova, an expert guide into Russian archives who worked with Anthony Beevoer (Stalingrad)
“An epic account … Brilliantly written” – praise for Stalin’s Children, Guardian
“Stalin’s Children should be required reading for anyone involved with economic, cultural or political relations with [Russia] … A poignant and insightful reading experience” – praise for Stalin’s Children, New York Post
Owen Matthews studied Modern History at Oxford University before beginning his career as a journalist in Bosnia. He has written for the Moscow Times, The Times, the Spectator and the Independent. In 1997, he became a correspondent at Newsweek magazine in Moscow where he covered the second Chechen war, Afghanistan, Iraq and the conflict
in Eastern Ukraine. His first book on Russian history, Stalin’s Children, was translated into twenty-eight languages and shortlisted for The Guardian First Books Award and France’s Prix Médicis.