John le Carré: “Kuper provides a different and valuable perspective, humane and informative. If the definition of a psychopath is someone who refuses to accept the consequences of his actions, does George fit the definition? There he sits, admitting it was all for nothing, but has no regrets. Or does he?”
Ben Macintyre, The Times: "The most comprehensive and insightful biography to date." Chosen in The Times' list of "Best Books of 2021 So Far"
The Economist: "Simon Kuper tells this extraordinary tale with wit and vim in his entertaining account of the spy’s life."
Richard Norton Taylor, The Guardian: "The most illuminating account by far....this well-written book goes to the heart of the Blake story, one that is much more intriguing and interesting on a personal level than those of Britain’s other notorious spies, including the Cambridge ring."
Henry Hemming, Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Kuper’s fascinating, rich and probing account.... a beguiling and endlessly interesting portrait of one man’s rigid, Panglossian desire to see the best in everything.... In many ways, the beauty of “Spies, Lies, and Exile” is the manner in which Blake’s wide-eyed credulity is matched, blow for blow, by Mr. Kuper’s considered skepticism and his ability, at the end, to see through the veneer of self-deception."
Owen Matthews, The Spectator: "Deeply researched .... uncannily timely. Kuper’s highly readable and multi-layered portrait is largely sympathetic, yet clear-eyed about the human cost of moral stances."
Helen Fry (author of The Walls Have Ears): "You won't have read anything like it before. It is a page-turner. You will enjoy it."
Ian Buruma, Times Literary Supplement: "Absorbing"
Andrew Hammond (curator at the International Spy Museum, Washington): "Such an enjoyable read"
Philippe Sands (author of The Ratline and East West Street): "Truly enthralling, gets under the skin, gives us a more nuanced sense of who Mr Blake - or is it Comrade Blake? - really was and what, if anything, actually motivated him. It's a deeply human read, wonderfully written, on the foibles of a fascinating, flawed, treacherous and sort of likeable character."
Max Hastings, Sunday Times: "A good account of a good story.... a sceptical wit in judging his man and the secret world he inhabited"
The New Statesman: "Colourful and well-told"
Crimereads.com: "George Blake, notorious in most accounts, emerges as one of the Cold War’s most interesting figures in Simon Kuper’s fascinating new account of his life and exploits....Kuper was given the exceedingly rare opportunity to interview Blake before his 2020 death, and his account of the man’s double life and intensely complex identity makes for compelling, provocative reading."
Martin Bright, Jewish Chronicle: "In part, a spy thriller, it is, above all, an examination of identity focussing on the fascinating character of Behar-Blake-Bekhter....this is a remarkably readable work that shares with Le Carré that melancholy sense of the traitor's tragic psychology."
Robert Hutton, Financial Times: "Enjoyable and lively.... An entertaining and thoughtful writer, ... his approach is to try to understand his subject while resisting his charm. Instead of a formula spy yarn, we get a personal encounter with Blake."
Alasdair Palmer, The Critic: "I can’t recommend The Happy Traitor highly enough. It tells Blake’s story in a witty and sophisticated way, fully alert to its complexities and ironies and yet at the same time aware of its essential moral simplicity: Blake was a bad man who got away with it."
The Tablet: "Thorough, lucidly written, well researched and absorbing"
Joris Luyendijk (author of Hello Everybody! and Swimming with Sharks): "If anyone could write this book, it's Simon Kuper. He speaks accentless Dutch, but like George Blake he isn't Dutch. He works for a British employer, but like Blake isn't British. What a triumph of a book, and what a fascinating life story. I read it in one sitting."
Hans Steketee, NRC Handelsblad, Netherlands: "Magnificent.... A gripping book about Blake's astonishing life - his 'many lives', as Kuper says"
Peter Giesen, De Volkskrant, Netherlands: "A fascinating journey through the vanished world of the Cold War.... The fascinating portrait of a man who turned his life into one big lie."
Nederlands Dagblad, Netherlands: "Well written, extremely gripping"
Gazet van Antwerpen, Belgium: "An informative and entertaining book. Blake's story reads like a thriller"
Kunsttijdschrift Vlaanderen, Belgium: "An excellent biography"
Richard Davenport-Hines, The Oldie: "[Kuper] is a fresh, honest even bracing appraiser of his wily interviewee.... The Happy Traitor is informative, lively and enjoyable....it gives the most reasonable and convincing account of George Blake's motives, activities, repercussions and character we are likely to have for a generation."
David McWilliams (author of The Pope's Children and Renaissance Nation): "A gem. Fascinating life. Great read"