Spy Cases

Blunt & Cairncross

Included here:

1. Blunt

2. Cairncross

1. Blunt

[Blunt, Anthony.] "Blunt on Cambridge, Marxism and His Pride at Serving KGB Masters." Telegraph (London), 10 Jan. 1998. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

Blunt, the "fourth man" in the Cambridge spy ring, was a member of MI5 throughout World War II. "Long before the Cambridge spies came under suspicion..., the KGB's Moscow Centre began to wonder if the Cambridge spies were not too good to be true.... Blunt was asked to write his own autobiography so that the KGB could check it against the known facts. For more than 50 years it has lain untouched in the KGB's files. Now it is to be published for the first time in a new book, The Crown Jewels [by Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev]. Here, in his own words, Anthony Blunt explains why he turned to communism."

Burns, John F. "Memoirs of British Spy Offer No Apology." New York Times, 24 Jul. 2009. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 23 July 2009, the British Library made public "a 30,000-word memoir in which Anthony Blunt ... described spying for the Soviet Union ... as 'the biggest mistake of my life.' The memoir offers few new insights into the details of Blunt's spying.... Its main interest, according to historians, lies in Blunt's account of his recruitment by another Soviet spy, Guy Burgess, when both were at Cambridge University in the 1930s, and in his exposition of his motives and feelings.... Christopher Andrew ...said the memoir reflected Blunt's unwillingness to acknowledge the evil he had served in spying for Stalin."

Carter, Miranda. Anthony Blunt: His Lives. London: Macmillan, 2001. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.

Spencer, IJI&C 15.2, finds that the author "does a splendid [and readable] job of skimming the surface of the knowable." However, "she cannot cope with the simple question of 'why?'" Pitt, Booklist, 1 Dec. 2001, says that the author's "research appears impeccable, and her tone is evenhanded and straightforward.... Carter stays away from facile explanations for [Blunt's] complex behavior."

To West, I&NS 18.1, this work "is a compilation, with nothing very startlingly new, but one that gathers together all the earlier material, and settles a few areas of controversy.... The flaw running through the book is a fundamental misconception about MI5, its structure, responsibilities and personnel." Nevertheless, "[f]or all the niggling irritations on the intelligence front, His Lives is likely to be regarded as the best standard work on Blunt."

Costello, John. Mask of Treachery. London: Collins, 1988. New York: Morrow, 1988. [pb] Mask of Treachery: Spies, Lies, and Betrayal. Revised and updated. New York: Warner Books, 1990.

Penrose, Barrie, and Simon Freeman. Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt. London: Grafton, 1987. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Cecil, I&NS 2.4, is unimpressed with this work, noting that the portrait of Blunt is obscured by an abundance of local color background. Except possibly for the early Cambridge years, Cecil argues, Burgess was not the dominant influence in Blunt's life. The authors, in fact, miss the importance of Blunt's work when compared to the peripheral role of Burgess. Chambers notes that this book has a good bibliography.

Steiner, George. "Reflections: The Cleric of Treason." New Yorker, 8 Dec. 1980, 160-195.

2. Cairncross

Cairncross, John. The Enigma Spy: An Autobiography. London: Century, 1997.

Grigg, Telegraph (London), 11 Oct. 1997, notes that this book is Cairncross' "posthumous apologia.... His version of events is, briefly, this. He was not the 'Fifth Man', indeed he maintains that the whole idea of a ring of five is fictitious. He never had anything to do with atomic secrets. Though at Cambridge he flirted for a time with Communism he never joined the party, and it was not for ideological reasons that he became a Soviet spy. His motive was simply to help Soviet Russia as the only force capable of defeating Nazi Germany, which he regarded as Britain's -- and civilisation's -- supreme enemy." The reviewer finds it difficult to credit Cairncross' "claim to have become a Soviet agent solely because, as a patriot, he was outraged by the policy of appeasement."

Similarly, Hoffman, IJI&C 12.2, signals his view of Cairncross' memoirs in the title to his review: "A Final Try at Deception." He concludes that Cairncross' "rather equivocal deprecation of his espionage is not likely to find widespread sympathy. His motives remain enigmatic and his contribution to the KGB understated."

Fenton, Ben. "Stalin's Fifth Man from Cambridge Spy Ring Dies." Telegraph (London), 9 Oct. 1995. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

"John Cairncross, the spy exposed as the Fifth Man, who always said he had never passed on information harmful to Britain, died yesterday, aged 82."

Rhodes, Tom, and Michael Evans. "Britain's Wartime Enigma Traitor is Unmasked." Times (London), 4 Oct. 1996, 1.

Smith, Michael. "Fifth Man Cairncross Gave Stalin the Atom Bomb." Telegraph (London), 12 Jan. 1998. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk]

John Cairncross "insisted that he never gave [the Russians] atomic secrets and denounced suggestions that he was the Fifth Man." However, KGB files released for The Crown Jewels, a new book by Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev, "show this to be nonsense and his claims never to have damaged British interests to be a lie.... [T]he pinnacle of [Cairncross'] KGB career was when he was secretary to Lord Hankey, Minister without Portfolio in Churchill's war cabinet. During this time, Cairncross handed the Russians details of the British atomic weapons programme, giving Stalin the information he needed to build a bomb."

Stevenson, Richard W. "John Cairncross, Fifth Briton in Soviet Spy Ring, Dies at 82." New York Times, 10 Oct. 1995, A13 (N).


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