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What pushed Blunt, Burgess, Cairncross, Maclean and Philby into Soviet hands?
With access to recently released papers and other neglected documents, this sharp analysis of the intelligence world examines how and why these men and others betrayed their country and what this cost Britain and its allies.
'Historians fumble their catches when they study individuals' motives and ideas rather than the institutions in which people work, respond, find motivation and develop their ideas', writes Richard Davenport-Hines in his history of the men who were persuaded by the Soviet Union to betray their country.
In an audiobook which attempts to counter many contradictory accounts, Enemies Within offers a study of character: both individual and institutional - the operative traits of boarding schools, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Intelligence Division, the Foreign Office, MI5, MI6 and Moscow Centre.
The audiobook refuses to present the Cambridge spies as they wished to be seen, in Marxist terms. It argues that these five men did their greatest harm to Britain not from their clandestine espionage but in their propaganda victories enjoyed from Moscow after 1951. Notions of trust, abused trust, forfeited trust and mistrust from the late 19th century to perestroika pepper its narrative.
In an audiobook that is as intellectually thrilling as it is entertaining and illuminating, Davenport-Hines charts how the undermining of authority, the rejection of expertise and the suspicion of educational advantages began with the Cambridge Five and has transformed the social and political temper of Britain.
What listeners say about Enemies Within: Communists, Spies and the Making of Modern BritainAverage customer ratings
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- David H. Furnival
We have been undermined by our own people as much as by Russian spies and their agents
- PETER ROWLEY
Well worth a listen, the book offers a few new insights due to it being written after the release of recent MI5 files in the national archives.
The narrator does a great job which always helps.
- Mel C
Excellent, very informative insights
Really enjoyed it, lot of history covered and comoarrisons with alternative theories by other authors was intrigueing
- Mary Carnegie
Broader than Cambridge ring
The author expands greatly on the predominant contemporary accounts of spy rings, amplified by popular fiction and unreliable memoirs, and, of course, journalists, especially but not confined, to the right-wing mass market tabloids.
He has something of a mission to exculpate class as a major factor in espionage for USSR from within security services, not entirely convincingly. OK, Cairncross wasn’t “posh”, but it’s stretching it to claim Burgess, Blunt, Philby and Maclean were well down the pecking order of the complex English class system.
The incomprehension between UK & USA culture, and its consequences for cooperation in matters of security and diplomacy are well explained.
The witch-hunt which followed the first discoveries of Soviet spies in UK/USA, especially the latter, was tragic. It is no absolution to claim other countries behaved more cruelly.