Why Spy?

"A wise man in time of peace prepares for war."

Why did some of the best and the brightest of Great Britain forsake king and country in the 1930's and become spies for the Soviet Union? How was it possible that some of the ring leaders went undetected for 30 years or more, with the circle perhaps still not closed?

British journalists Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman first encountered the shadows and mirrors of Soviet espionage in Britain as reporters for the Sunday Times in 1979. Their investigative stories fed on breaking news after the public disclosure that Anthony Blunt, Keeper of the Queen's Pictures, director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, and, previously, an officer for British counterintelligence (MI5), was a spy for the Soviet Union. As their contacts and knowledge of the Cambridge spy ring increased, a book became inevitable—while perhaps a bit weak on analysis and insight, it provides a large collection of quotes from a broad cross section of players in the game.

There were really three aspects to the Conspiracy of Silence to which the tide refers. The first might be called a kind of class conspiracy. It derived from the Cambridge of Blunt in the 1930's—a world of social status, almost of caste, where young gentlemen naturally believed they were destined to rule in absolute loyalty to their...

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