A Spy Named Orphan

A Spy Named Orphan

The Enigma of Donald Maclean


Donald Maclean was a star diplomat, an establishment insider and a keeper of some of the West’s greatest secrets. He was also a Russian spy…

Codenamed ‘Orphan’ by his Russian recruiter, Maclean was Britain’s most gifted traitor. But as he leaked huge amounts of top-secret intelligence, an international code-breaking operation was rapidly closing in on him. Moments before he was unmasked, Maclean escaped to Moscow.

Drawing on a wealth of previously classified material, A Spy Named Orphan now tells this story for the first time in full, revealing the character and devastating impact of perhaps the most dangerous Soviet agent of the twentieth century.

William Boyd

‘Fascinating… An exceptional story of espionage and betrayal, thrillingly told
Philippe Sands

‘A cracking story… Impressively researched
Sunday Times

‘Philipps makes the story and the slow uncovering of [Maclean’s] treachery a gripping narrative’
Alan Bennett


  • Brilliantly fluent...fascinating...[Philipps] writes so cleanly, and at such a clip, handling the big scenes with aplomb...This biography first grips and then lingers long in the mind. It is a page-turner of the most empathetic kind.
    Rachel Cooke, Guardian

About the author

Roland Philipps

ROLAND PHILIPPS was a leading publisher for many years. A Spy Named Orphan, his first book, arose from lifelong connections to Donald Maclean and his story. It was shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2018, was a Daily Mail Book of the Year and received widespread critical acclaim. His second book, Victoire, was published by The Bodley Head in 2021.
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