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Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess Hardcover – 10 Sep 2015
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An abundance of vivid detail from many different voices, viewpoints and nationalities...Stalin's Englishman is a matchless and splendidly exciting read. (The Times)
This exhaustively researched and absorbing book, the first full biographical study and likely to remain the definitive life. (New Statesman)
A meticulously researched biography...an astonishing piece of research. (Sunday Times)
Complicated, revelatory: a superb biography more riveting than a spy novel. (Sunday Telegraph)
As one of this country's foremost literary agents, Andrew Lownie certainly knows what makes a good book, and in Stalin's Englishman he has delivered one of his own - many times over. (Independent)
Not every question has been answered, but most have, and those that remain probably never will be. (Independent on Sunday)
In this meticulous biography of the most colourful of the quintet, espionage expert Lownie argues convincingly that Burgess - often seen as a clownish buffoon - was the key member of the ring, and his treachery the most damaging. (Observer)
A magnificent biography...Burgess has all the right ingredients for an engrossing story and Lownie, who has spent 30 years researching this biography, makes the most of it... a narrative as gripping as a thriller. (Daily Express)
Scrupulous and comprehensive. (The Week)
Is there anything significant left to say about members of the Cambridge spy ring, Moscow's 'magnificent five'? The answer, judging by this book, is a resounding yes. (Guardian)
The extraordinary true story of Guy Burgess, the man at the heart of the Cambridge Spy Ring and a linchpin of Cold War espionage.See all Product description
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His espionage was on a Stakhanovite scale, the Russians apparently ran out of translators to deal with the volume of documents from his time at the BBC, as a Cabinet Minister's secretary and, finally, within the fringes of the Foreign Office.
Was Burgess' biggest crime the leaking of documents to the Soviets or was it really his betrayal of the Establishment. The fact that 'one of us', Eton old boy tie and Oxbridge, could make a fool of 'us' and question 'our' ancestral right to rule? Great historical research and at times it reads like a thriller.
Burgess was the most dangerous spy in Britain, more so than the notorious Kim Philby.
For the ordinary reader three looming questions arise about this person. What kind of person was he? How did he fool so many people for so long? And why did he so cheerfully betray the war effort?
The answers lie in this definitive book about the most important of “The Cambridge Spies” – Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, Philby and Burgess. In a ten-year labour of scholarship and legwork, Lownie has plundered once-secret files and interviewed more than a hundred people who knew Burgess socially or who dealt with him at a professional level. As a picture emerges of this ruthless, chronically self-centred, homosexual and charming drunk, it’s impossible not to marvel at how he was tolerated and even admired by his contemporaries, even those who began to suspect him. This was a period when the Foreign Office, BBC and secret services recruited their top people from the best universities and similar social milieus. And they had a blind faith that these people were “their own”, that they shared common beliefs and above all patriotism. In short, they were true to the cause.
As he piles research on research, the author, who is one of the world’s most successful non-fiction agents, allows readers to form their own views, only summarising his opinions towards the end of a monumental piece of biography. But readers will find that it’s impossible to be impartial about a man like Guy Burgess.
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