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Deceiving the Deceivers: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess
 
 

Deceiving the Deceivers: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess: Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess [Kindle Edition]

S. J. Hamrick
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

"A major addition to intelligence literature." -- David Murphy, author of Battleground Berlin

Product Description

Among the more sensational espionage cases of the Cold War were those of Moscow’s three British spies—Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, and Guy Burgess. In this riveting book, S. J. Hamrick draws on documentary evidence concealed for almost half a century in reconstructing the complex series of 1947–1951 events that led British intelligence to identify all three as Soviet agents.

Basing his argument primarily on the Venona archive of broken Soviet codes released in 1995–1996 as well as on complementary Moscow and London sources, Hamrick refutes the myth of MI5’s identification of Maclean as a Soviet agent in the spring of 1951. British intelligence knew far earlier that Maclean was Moscow’s agent and concealed that knowledge in a 1949–1951 counterespionage operation that deceived Philby and Burgess. Hamrick also introduces compelling evidence of a 1949–1950 British disinformation initiative using Philby to mislead Moscow on Anglo-American retaliatory military capability in the event of Soviet aggression in Western Europe.

Engagingly written and impressively documented, Deceiving the Deceivers breaks new ground in reinterpreting the final espionage years of three infamous spies and in clarifying fifty years of conjecture, confusion, and error in Anglo-American intelligence history.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 621 KB
  • Print Length: 318 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0300104162
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (10 Nov 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015KQZFS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #119,495 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three-and-a-Half Stars. 18 Aug 2005
By F. S. L'hoir TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Despite the fact that I cannot get enough on the subject of the Cambridge Spies, it took me nearly six months to plough through S.J. Hamrick's "Deceiving the Deceivers." It is not as if his thesis is not provocative: that SIS laid a trap for Burgess, Maclean, Philby, and Blunt. However, the author explores so many tangents that I frequently found it difficult to grasp the central thread of his narrative.

Certainly, the possibility that British Intelligence had set a trap for the Cambridge Spies is plausible. Such a scenario would explain why the sequence of events ceases to make any logical sense after the Volkov affair in 1945, when Kim Philby delays his arrival at Istanbul, to such an extent that the would-be Soviet defector, Konstantin Volkov, is apprehended by the Russians and--encased in bandages like a mummy--whisked off to Moscow and apparent oblivion. After this point, one is left with a series of anomalies: 1) Donald Maclean's unspeakable rampage in Cairo results (after a recuperative dose of psychoanalysis) in an appointment to the sensitive American Desk in the Foreign Office. 2) Guy Burgess, after running amok in Tangiers and blowing the cover of SIS officers left and right, is nevertheless appointed as third secretary to the British Embassy in Washington, arguably Britain's most important foreign post. 3) Burgess's drunken rumbustiousness in Washington succeeds in embarrassing his host, Kim Philby--who has hitherto been regarded as a respected first secretary to the British Embassy--so much so that not only Burgess but also Philby is declared PNG and sent home to London ASAP. The upshot is the ruination of one of the NKVD's [KGB] most valuable agents and the eventual downfall of the entire Cambridge ring.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deceiving the Deceivers 11 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover
If you are into modern British history and the intelligence/counterespionage services then this is for you. It revolves around the Cambridge circle of spies in the 195o's or thereabouts but gives a much wider view of this secret world. The author seems to have a very authoratitive view of the British end of intelligence and how it operated at the time. He has a lot of insider information coupled with exhaustive research. He contradicts many leading players accounts of the time, especially Kim Philby. One must read Philby's account in "My Silent War" to have a more balanced account to make a judgement for themselves.

The author's style of writing is sometimes very difficult to follow, a better use of grammatical input would have been beneficial. Perhaps this is due to his American style of prose.

However, this is a must read for those of us outside of the intelligence services looking for an insight into it's dark world, well worth the effort of perseverence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hard 7 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this book was hard reading and l had to read it twice to absorb all the information contain in it. Excellent book for facts and insight
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1.0 out of 5 stars Rather too dry.... 5 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just too dry! Very interested in the subject matter so very disappointed in the literary style and frankly never finished the book.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three-and-a-Half Stars. 22 July 2005
By F. S. L'hoir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Despite the fact that I cannot get enough on the subject of the Cambridge Spies, it took me nearly six months to plough through S.J. Hamrick's "Deceiving the Deceivers." It is not as if his thesis is not provocative: that SIS, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, in anticipation, laid a trap for Burgess, Maclean, Philby, and Blunt. However, the author explores so many tangents that I found it difficult to grasp the central thread of his narrative.

Certainly, the possibility that British Intelligence had set a trap for the Cambridge Spies is plausible. Such a scenario would explain why the sequence of events ceases to make any logical sense after the Volkov affair in 1945, when Kim Philby delays his arrival at Istanbul, to such an extent that the would-be Soviet defector, Konstantin Volkov, is apprehended by the Russians and--encased in bandages like a mummy--whisked off to Moscow and apparent oblivion. After this point, one is left with a series of anomalies: 1) Donald Maclean's unspeakable rampage in Cairo results (after a recuperative dose of psychoanalysis) in an appointment to the sensitive American Desk in the Foreign Office. 2) Guy Burgess, after running amok in Tangiers and blowing the cover of SIS officers left and right, is nevertheless appointed as third secretary to the British Embassy in Washington, arguably Britain's most important foreign post. 3) Burgess's drunken rumbustiousness in Washington succeeds in embarrassing his host, Kim Philby--who has hitherto been regarded as a respected first secretary to the British Embassy--so much so that not only Burgess but also Philby is declared PNG and sent home to London ASAP. The upshot is the ruination of one of the NKVD's (KGB's) most valuable agents and the eventual downfall of the entire Cambridge ring. The question that is raised--and not addressed by Hamrick--is whether SIS might have "turned" Burgess with the express objective of bringing down his friend Philby (After all, Burgess, when the going got rough, was reportedly ready to negotiate a hit on another pal, Goronwy Rees, so presumably he would not be adverse to bringing down Philby, if it meant saving his own skin). Despite Burgess' famous espousal of E.M. Forster's maxim, "if I had a choice between betraying a friend and betraying my country, I hope that I would have the guts to betray my country," Burgess could well have been promised an unimpeded escape with Maclean if he would embarrass Philby in Washington, which he certainly did. Of course, one will never know due to the British Official Secrets Act.

One would, however, like to have a bit more solid evidence to support Mr. Hamrick's hypothesis. Furthermore, from all that one reads about SIS and its serial blundering, one wonders whether it would have been clever enough to have accomplished such a coup (especially when it continued to employ Philby as an agent in the Mid-East until 1963, when he defected to Moscow). Nevertheless, the Cambridge Spies were brought down (Anthony Blunt was being questioned in 1964, the year after Burgess died and Philby defected, and eventually John Cairncross was revealed to be a Soviet agent).

Hamrick certainly raises some of the important questions, even though he does not--and likely cannot--provide the answers.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ex U.S. Envoy Questions Philby Legend 14 Dec 2004
By BGTattle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
S.J. Hamrick's study of an associated trio among the most infamous British 20th Century spies is a major step forward in Cold War history. He starts what may become the cracking of the myth surrounding Harold A. R. (Kim) Philby, the Soviet agent many blame for failures of several paramilitary operations the West mounted within the Soviet empire. Unfortunately, Hamrick offers little hard evidence to back up his attack on this outsized mythical spy.

But the author is also able to turn that lack of evidence into the basis of his assault on Philby's storification. Much of the Philby legend was created by the subject spy himself in his book, "My Secret War". In the mid-1980s, British journalist Lord Nicholas Bethell added to the Philby legend by giving the Cambridge University-educated double agent credit as the main reason a British-American paramilitary operation in Albania failed. Bethell offered little or no evidence besides Philby's book, some comments from retired intelligence officers, and lots of airy speculation that Philby must have been to blame. Hamrick correctly offers a timeline that shows how unlikely that Bethell's thesis was accurate.

"It is impossible to believe Philby had the means for any timely disclosure of OPC (a U.S. psychological warfare agency overseen by the CIA, State Department and military) individual operational plans or that he would even have found it necessary," he wrote. Hamrick echos other observers and participants - British and American - who view the Albanian projects as carrying the weight of their own ultimate failure in the "futility of their numbers and purpose". There were too few bravely enthusiastic, but naive, Albanian mountaineers sent home by air, land and sea to overthrow a nasty Communist regime whose internal security forces were trained by the Soviet NKVD.

Two storm flags must be raised about the Hamrick work. One is the theory he postulates that the U.S. and British militaries used Philby as a conduit to pass disinformation to the Soviets. Thin evidence is the problem. The second is Hamrick's apparent failure to consult several works that contained major materiel germane to the Philby-Albania case, such as those by Burton Hersh, C.L. Sulzberger, Noel Malcolm and Enver Hoxha. He writes about the oft-criticized CIA counterspy James J. Angleton and the Office of Special Operations, a CIA branch that competed with the OPC for foreign agents and resources. But he also misses the most successful Western infiltration of Albania by agents sponsored by the CIA/OSO and Italian Naval Intelligence.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A shapeless mess, but sweeps all before it 28 April 2007
By margot - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Good material and critical thinking, poorly arranged. The author has one basic point, which he reiterates in each chapter as either conclusion or thesis (sometimes both). And that point is, the British security services succeeded brilliantly for a half-century in misleading the public about the Burgess-Maclean-Philby case. To break it down to its most salient arguments:

1) Burgess and Maclean did not "jump" when they took that night boat to St-Malo in May 1951. They were "pushed"--by MI5. MI5 had been watching them for years, playing with Maclean as a cat plays with a mouse, delaying overt investigation while gradually inciting a sense of panic throughout the spy ring.

2) Kim Philby was neither head boy nor master spy. He was a bibulous blowhard, a second-rater whose utility to the Soviets expired long before 1951. When he was stationed at the embassy in Washington, DC in 1949-51, he did not even have a regular Soviet contact. (When he finally ended up in Moscow, the KGB had no use for him: he was under constant surveillance and suspicion.) Philby was mainly useful to the British security services, first as a useful fool whose contacts could be monitored, later as a straw-man who could be portrayed as a sort of Prof. Moriarty of espionage, thereby allowing the security services to hide how they much they actually knew about the Soviet apparatus.

The arguments are based on the author's review of the so-called Venona transcripts, decryptions and counterintelligence documents that accumulated in the American security services from the 1940s and 50s. This book serves as a sort of bibliographic introduction to what can be pulled out of those files, but it is itself too confused and sprawling to be the final word itself. The thing is just difficult to read. It needed an editor and proofreader, to give it clarity and shape, and to catch the author's more obvious errors. At least twice Hamrick speaks of Heath being Prime Minister in 1963, and I can't tell whether he really means Macmillan or Lord Home, or means minister Heath in the cabinet.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Provocative Ideas; Scattered Organization 18 Mar 2008
By Mr. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The provocative ideas in this book have been cogently analyzed by other excellent reviewers. Here, I will add to the complaint that Hamrick's argument is extremely disorganized. Hamrick's rambling narrative should have been better reined in by the editors at Yale University Press. As a result of discursive and mostly scattered narrative, reading this book was as enjoyable as trying to run 10 miles after a full meal. Only the book's intriguing thesis saves this book from a one star review.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HEROIC SOVIET SPIES OR BRITISH DUPES? 21 April 2007
By Alfred Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I like a James Bond spy thriller replete with the latest technology as well as the next guy. Le Carre's Cold War-inspired George Smiley series. Even better. So when I expected to get the real `scoop' on the actions of the Kim Philby-led Ring of Five in England that performed heroic spy service for the Soviet Union I found instead mostly skimpy historical conjecture by Mr. Hamrick. The central premise of his book that the Ring of Five was led by the rings in their noses by Western intelligence made me long for one of Mr. le Carre's books. Apparently the only virtue of the opening of Cold War archives has been not to bring some clarity about the period but to create a cottage industry of conjecture and coincidence that rival the Lee Harvey Oswald industry. Interestingly, the New York Review of Books (April 26, 2007) in its review of Mr. Hamrick's book brought in the big guns. The review by Phillip Knightley, who actually has done some heavy work sorting out the Philby case, politely, too politely, dismisses the claims as so much smoke. No disagreement there from these quarters.
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