Crown Jewels/British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives

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9780002558686: Crown Jewels/British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives

This lively account of Soviet foreign intelligence activity in Great Britain during the Cold War is based on documents newly released from the KGB archives, their crown jewels,” as the KGB unofficially called its most valuable assets. Written by Nigel West, called by the Sunday Times the unofficial historian of the secret services” and Oleg Tsarev, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, The Crown Jewels provides much new information on the activities of all the well-known British pro-Soviet spies, including Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, and Anthony Blunt, as well as many lesser-known spymasters and recruiters, reproducing many of their reports for the first time.
The book adds unsuspected dimensions to the famous Cambridge ring (including details of Burgess’s offer to murder his fellow conspirator Goronwy Rees). It also reveals a completely unknown Soviet network based in London and headed by a named Daily Herald journalist; describes the huge scale of Soviet penetration of the British Foreign Office from 1927 to 1951; explores a previously unknown spy ring in Oxford; and tells about the key role played by Blunt in supervising post-war Soviet espionage activities in London.

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Review:

In the early 1920s, the newly founded Soviet Union established intelligence-gathering networks in several Western European capitals. Initially charged with spying on White Russians and other enemies of the Bolsheviks, these enclaves soon turned to collecting information on all kinds of political and economic activities in their host countries--and also to recruiting foreign nationals to serve the Soviet regime. The Soviets, write British historian Nigel West and retired Russian intelligence officer Oleg Tsarev, were especially successful in Britain, where they were able to make use of a band of disaffected university-based intellectuals who went into government service and who, in time, turned from coffeehouse revolutionaries to active traitors: John Cairncross, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, and, perhaps most infamous of them all, Kim Philby.

From the late 1930s to the 1950s, they operated a spy ring in England that gave to the Soviet Union secret information ranging from Allied troop strength in North Africa in World War II to British atomic-weapons development in the early years of the cold war. West and Tsarev reproduce numerous dispatches from these spies, contextualizing them in a detailed narrative that vividly describes the day-to-day hardships involved in forging a career in espionage. For instance, when the East German "atom spy" Klaus Fuchs had to reckon with postwar gas rationing as a factor in arranging rendezvous points with his agents, he had to confine them to London and close to the watchful British counterintelligence service. The story takes as many turns as a John Le Carré thriller, and students of the cold war will find it of much interest. --Gregory McNamee

Review:

This is the most sensational volume to appear so far in Yale University Press's rapidly growing library on Soviet espionage. . . . Richly detailed and slickly written, The Crown Jewels is a riveting read. -- Virginia Quarterly Review

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Nigel West
Published by HarperCollins Publishers (1998)
ISBN 10: 0002558688 ISBN 13: 9780002558686
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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Irish Booksellers
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002558688

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