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Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason [Hardcover]

Chapman Pincher
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd; 1st Edition edition (14 May 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0283993790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0283993794
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,630,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Missed Opportunity 3 Nov 2003
This book has a promising premise but unfortunately Mr Pincher does not deliver. Each chapter of the book purports to look at the different aspects of betrayal e.g "The Pull of Ideology", "Defects of Character", "How traitors are exposed" etc, etc. The material is mostly concerned with the period 1939 - 1984 and tends to focus almost exclusively on westerners who spied for the Eastern Bloc.
The weaknesses are two-fold. Firstly, the prose betrays Mr Pincher's background in journalism, specifically his work for the Daily Express. The book is littered with lazy cliches and a lack of any real analysis. Instead, we are presented with the thesis that traitors tend to be loners, odd-balls, alcholics and / or homosexuals out for a quick buck. The trouble is, is that Mr Pincher's "type specimens" (don't ask) are such a diverse group of people that they defy the easy categorization which he wants to prove. Yes, some drank too much but some didn't; some were gay, others weren't; some spied for money, others didn't; some were very strange, others weren't. What Mr Pincher inadvertently shows is that "traitors" come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with all manner of motivation. There is no such thing as a typical traitor. If there was, then life would be so much easier for MI6, CIA et al.
Secondly, the book is very repetitive with the same stories and quotes cropping up again and again. This isn't such a handicap if one just chooses to pick up the book every now and then just to read the odd chapter but it becomes tedious if one reads the book like a book i.e from start to finish at regular intervals. This is particuarly the case with Mr Pincher's own hobby horse of Roger Hollis. Hollis, who rose to become head of MI5, was suspected by certain elements within MI5 of being a Soviet spy.
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