Start reading The Cuckoos' Nest - 500 Years of Cambridge Spies on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Cuckoos' Nest - 500 Years of Cambridge Spies [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Catherwood
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £17.95
Kindle Price: £5.54 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £12.41 (69%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £5.54  
Hardcover £17.95  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Book Description


“Spies, as Christopher Catherwood’s book shows, are a Cambridge tradition”

What do the dramatist and Shakespeare contemporary Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan courtier Sir Francis Walsingham, and Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and John Cairncross all have in common?

The answer is that they were all at Cambridge University and all of them were spies...

This brilliant new book is the first to unite such a fascinating group of people, and to explore this extraordinary 500-year continuity provided by their place of education. This direct continuity is something of which Cambridge and its colleges are very aware, and which makes it such a unique place in the annals of espionage, treachery and intrigue.

The murder of Christopher Marlowe in a tavern brawl is still a mystery, a subject upon which many books have been written, none with conclusive results. But there is one factor upon which they all agree – that his death was directly related to his activities as a spy. Some of those involved, such as Robert Poley, were also Cambridge graduates, and with the ideological war with Spain in the 16th century having strong parallels with the similar 20th-century struggle of the Cold War (not to mention the fight against fascism in the 1930s that recruited many Cambridge students to Marxism), the level of continuity is therefore remarkable yet again.

The Cuckoos’ Nest examines and illustrates the common international themes of the times alongside the domestic political and social atmospheres prevalent and elegantly and fascinatingly weaves them into a spellbinding tale of treachery and treason.


“Spies, as Christopher Catherwood's entertaining book shows, are a Cambridge tradition. Graduates from most British universities have joined the British intelligence services. Twentieth-century Cambridge, however, provided some of the best recruits for the KGB as well. The Cuckoos’ Nest brings their extraordinary careers vividly to life.”

– Christopher Andrew, Official Historian of the Security Service (MI5)

“As Christopher Catherwood points out in The Cuckoos’ Nest, spy stories – the real ones, that is – seem to have an endless fascination for us. When these stories have a connection with an ancient university and a charming city, then the fascination is all the greater. In this extraordinarily readable book, Catherwood explores the connection between place and intrigue, between a university committed to truth and people committed to dissemblance. The result is an extraordinarily rich narrative.”

– Alexander McCall Smith

Scroll up and grab your copy now.

About the Author

Christopher Catherwood is a writer and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and lives with his wife Paueltte just outside Cambridge. He is attached to Churchill College and St Edmund's College at Cambridge and attends the Intelligence History Seminar run by the Official Historian of MI5, Professor Christopher Andrew. He is an expert on 20th century history in Europe and the Middle East, and has written many books in that area, and on Winston Churchill in particular. He also teaches 20th century and English Reformation history for the Tulane and Wake Forest Universities’ INSTEP Study Abroad programme in Cambridge and taught for many years at the University of Richmond in Virginia. He is currently writing on special operations and espionage in World War II for a series on secret intelligence history, and on Randolph Churchill and Evelyn Waugh as SOE agents in the Balkans.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Page of Start over
This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 627 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: The Oleander Press (12 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #283,587 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing 19 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I was given an advance copy of this book for review.
I have to admit - this is not my usual field of reading, but I'm willing to give anything a go, and I found myself easily caught up in the world of the Cambridge spies.
The author writes about the links between Cambridge and spying, ranging from Christopher Marlowe and Sir Francis Walsingham, to the Big Four (or Five, or Eight! - read the book to understand!) - Blunt, Philby, Burgess and Maclean. He easily draws the links between them - they all attended Cambridge, they were all spies, they joined the Apostles - but then, just as easily, breaks those links - they attended different colleges, the Apostles was a simple debating society, they weren't all homosexual.
In a book of this size, he is unable to go into a great deal of depth about each of the spies - but he manages to give a potted biography of their careers, their lifestyle, the damage they caused, and what happened to each of them.
I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in just who the Cambridge spies were, and what impact their actions had on Britain and their relations with the Soviet Union and the US. It would be a good lead into more in depth reading, or if, like me, you have very little knowledge and just want to know more about who they were.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cuckoos' nest 16 Feb. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Really a trawl starting 500 years ago, with Marlowe and rapidly coming to the very recent past. To talk of 'The Cambridge Four' is incorrect. According to this author it is more likely to have been 'The Cambridge Ten, or more.' Personally, I wonder just HOW these traitors, who were from the very 'upper-crust', could have been seduced by the evil doctrine as they were. The arguement that, at the time, Communism was a bulwark against Fascism holds little, or no, water. All of these people must qualify for the title of 'Ultimate Hypocrite'.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less gripping than expected. 19 May 2013
By Luis
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was also generously given an advance copy of this to review, and had really been looking forward to reading it, as this is a particular area of interest for me. However, it is sadly very basic, and not particularly well written. It has quite a bit of information in it, but the way it is laid out makes it quite hard to follow the thread of each point, as the author wanders off on tangents, then rejoins again when you are lost.

The author has a very accessible style, in that it certainly did not feel like a dry, academic tome, and if you are looking for a introduction into this area, it may well be worth getting, as it will provide you with enough of a taster to whet your appetite enough to move onto other, more detailed, better written works.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An interesting book though rather disingenuously titled! The author has a substantial chapter or two on Elizabethan spies before explaining that nothing much happened in relation to spying at Cambridge over the following 400 years! We then jump straight forward to the C20.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category