The Climate of Treason:Five Who Spied For Russia Hardcover – 5 Nov 1979
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Excellent condition, jacket very strong, showing mild wear and bumping to edges. Pages superb. A fascinating biography of the five English upper class Cambridge students recruited to spy for the communist party, in the 1930s. A riveting read. (his)
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How far Boyle’s role was crucial in unmasking Blunt, it is hard to say. He is less than precise on the matter and others make their own claims. Quite apart from such issues, this is an exceptional read, more gripping than any spy novel I know of. Each of the principals is an extraordinary character in his own right, but the whole world in which they moved is so totally remote from our normal experience. What Boyle focuses on here more than we find in other accounts is the role of the key politicians of the time: Attlee, Churchill, Eden, MacMillan, through to Wilson and Thatcher. He also makes more of the involvement of such as Malcolm Muggeridge and Dick White, who contained with remarkable patience his frustration at being denied the opportunities to confront both Philby and Blunt, despite his certainty of their guilt.
At every turn there are interesting observations. Presumably the un-named American is Michael Straight, while the involvement of Guy Liddell now seems far more unlikely than was for a time thought to be the case. The book is not without humour either. One delightful example is Ernest Bevin’s comment on someone’s remark that Nye Bevan was his own worst enemy.Read more ›
The daddy of the spy revelations and still a good read.
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Sir Anthony Blunt, KCVO, keeper of the Queens Pictures, Guy Francis De Moncy Burgess, The London Times and the BBC, Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby OBE, SIS officer and son of famous Arabist St. John Philby, Donald Duart Maclean, Diplomat and SIS officer. James Klugmann was an SOE officer and became the author of the official History of the Communist Party of Great Britain and reputedly the Fifth Man was John Cairncross; an Intelligence Officer, member of the Treasury Department and even researcher on the ULTRA coding at highly secret Bletchley Park. All spied for Communist Russia.
Despite Boyle's suggestion that this was really a treason of class, the long term betrayals went further than that as even the King; Edward VIII and his many-times married American wife Wallace Simpson, were suspected of treasonably supporting England's enemies - Hitler in their case - and they were both long-time of targets of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and members of this Soviet spy ring for their activities both before and after his abdication. Astoundingly, the Americans had already, as early as1948, had identified at the least Donald Maclean and Kim Philby as Soviet spies but they did not pass on their information to the British SIS, partly because they no longer trusted them. Interestingly,the CIA agent in charge of the case, James Jesus Angleton was also an American from an English Public School ... those seats of the treason.
The "controlled schizophrenia" of secrecy and duality of lives demanded from spying seems to have come more readily to some members of the group because they shared what Boyle calls "the sad pleasures of sodomy" and discretion was then required for homosexuality. But eventually they were `outed' and the relationship between US and British security services has rumored to have never fully recovered.
But it was not just a "treason of class" as the "five" never left the Establishment receiving in the due course of their so typical professions all the normal and expected rewards, honors and titles. As a contemporary to all the characters and events in the book - and another potential spy, but for the SIS - the nearly recruited Neal Ascherson wrote; "They were unwilling in the end to leave the Establishment, and became prominent figures in the BBC, the Foreign Office, Intelligence and so forth - just as they were destined to. Except that they also spied".
As disbelieving author Cyril Connolly said when the scandal broke: "They are members of the governing class, of the high bureaucracy, the "they" who rule the "we".... If traitors they be, then they are traitors to themselves."