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Going Straight

Neal Ascherson

17 March 1983
After Long Silence 
by Michael Straight.
Collins, 351 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 00 217001 9
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A Matter of Trust: MI5 1945-72 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £8.95, December 1982, 0 297 78253 3
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... strangely to be called ‘the Cambridge spies’, revelations malevolent, piteous or merely inaccurate, ought to be wound up after the publication of Michael Straight’s contribution. Very possibly, AnthonyBlunt will one day write such a book himself. But the names have almost all been named, the questions of motive worn smooth, the titles and pensions (some of them) stripped like epaulettes, the spell ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt

29 November 2001
Anthony BluntHis Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... On the afternoon of 15 November 1979 the Prime Minister announced in the House of Commons that AnthonyBlunt, retired Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, fellow of the British Academy, former director of the Courtauld Institute, and the most influential figure in the establishment of art history as an ...
30 March 1989
... In Alan Bennett’s A Question of Attribution, AnthonyBlunt instructs Her Majesty the Queen about pictures. ‘Because something is not what it is said to be, Ma’am, does not mean it is a fake.’ ‘What is it?’ she asks. Sir Anthony gingerly suggests ...
2 February 1989
Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... path cross that of the Cambridge spies. It was on a warm, sunny afternoon last May at Kuntsevo Cemetery on the western outskirts of Moscow, when they buried Kim Philby. Guy Burgess had died in 1963, AnthonyBlunt and Donald Maclean in 1983. Philby, however, was still alive when I started work in Moscow as the Independent’s correspondent there in early 1987, and his presence was a source of recurrent ...

Official Secrecy

Andrew Boyle

18 September 1980
The Frontiers of Secrecy 
by David Leigh.
Junction, 291 pp., £9.95, August 1980, 0 86245 002 0
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... of government servants, find their clearest expression in the intelligence community.’ In the course of my lengthy researches into the weirdly mixed social and political environment which led AnthonyBlunt, among others, to play the traitor, I stumbled on evidence which the custodians of the intelligence community would have done much to suppress. That they failed in the end to intimidate either ...

No more alimony, tra la la

Miranda Carter: Somerset Maugham

17 December 2009
The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham 
by Selina Hastings.
John Murray, 614 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6554 0
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... in dialect of facetious comment on life, ethics and immortality.’ It says something about the feelings he provoked that an attempt to publish a festschrift to him in 1954 was abandoned when only Anthony Powell and Raymond Mortimer agreed to contribute. He was deeply disappointed, that unlike Hardy and Galsworthy, he was never given the Order of Merit, having to settle instead for being made a ...
7 February 1980
The Climate of Treason 
by Andrew Boyle.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 9780091393403
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... The other day, I found myself in a taxi queue with AnthonyBlunt. He looked frayed but fervently cheerful, much as if he had just been dug out of the ruins of his own bombed house. Never mind the furniture, the books and the glass: the ceiling had come down, but ...

Lucky Kim

Christopher Hitchens

23 February 1995
The Philby Files. The Secret Life of the Master Spy: KGB Archives Revealed 
by Genrikh Borovik, edited by Phillip Knightley.
Little, Brown, 382 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 316 91015 5
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The Fifth Man 
by Roland Perry.
Sidgwick, 486 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 283 06216 9
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Treason in the Blood: H. St John Philby, Kim Philby and the Spy Case of the Century 
by Anthony​ Cave Brown.
Hale, 640 pp., £25, January 1995, 9780709055822
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My Five Cambridge Friends 
by Yuri Modin.
Headline, 328 pp., £17.99, October 1994, 0 7472 1280 5
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Looking for Mr Nobody: The Secret Life of Goronwy Rees 
by Jenny Rees.
Weidenfeld, 291 pp., £18.99, October 1994, 0 297 81430 3
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... system (Roland Perry gets so carried away that he repeatedly refers to ‘Lord Victor Rothschild’ in a book published by the ancient firm of Lord Frank Longford) and, finally, given the belief of Anthony Cave Brown that treason is a heritable trait, the Bell Curve theory of clubland skulduggery. Yet this is the standard, both of writing and editing and research. When James Jesus Angleton, crazed and ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... to put the talkative Adams into the witness box.’ Is this trial by DNB, or do we now know for certain that Adams was guilty? And if we don’t, why does he get an entry? Wickedness, in the case of AnthonyBlunt, actually pays off rather handsomely. He gets a four-column entry against the average two, and it is unlikely that this would have been his lot had he been listed merely as ‘art historian ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice

3 March 2011
Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... year at Marlborough, Louis had some suggestions for his stepmother: Re kittens, one must be called Old Foss after Mr Lear’s famous cat. The other two might perhaps be called Barocco and Rokoko (Anthony read a paper on these last night). But cats have little interest in architecture, so perhaps Rodillardus and Chat Botté would be more appropriate – though French is so difficult to pronounce ...

Diary

Lawrence Gowing: English Romanesque at the Hayward Gallery

19 April 1984
... public administration of the arts. The reflection that is worth holding on to, as we make our buffeted ways to the Hayward (or across town to the Serpentine Gallery, where an epochal exhibition of Anthony Caro is brewing, as if to complement it and demonstrate how various the subject and the Arts Council are), concerns the real present content of the act of devotion and insight in which the ...

Diary

Neal Ascherson: On A.J.P. Taylor

2 June 1983
... between taxi-drivers. They were disappointed. Taylor stayed out of the mud. More accurately, he wrote in these pages that he found the whole affair boring – ‘cold mutton’, as he said about the AnthonyBlunt affair. Perhaps he did. Historians are queer. Still, boredom is ruder than execration. I have nearly finished imitating A.J.P. Taylor’s rhythms now. Let me add this. I once wrote a whole book ...

Molehunt

Christopher Andrew

22 January 1987
Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony​ Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... to 1941) than Philby’s athletic heterosexuality. The NKVD probably found both rather disconcerting. Generalisations about the ‘Cambridge Comintern’ based on the eccentric careers of Burgess and Blunt do not even fit all of the moles. The very first Cambridge recruit to the Comintern Intelligence apparat, Philip Spratt, was the withdrawn, heterosexual son of a Deptford elementary schoolmaster, who ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot

2 March 1989
The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... old aircraft to the Russians, were more than once sabotaged by MI5. The young intelligence heroes of the time had mostly been in active service in colonial wars, notably in Palestine. Harry Wharton, Anthony Cavendish, Maurice Oldfield, the arch-racialist George Kennedy Young – all these were in MI5 or MI6 either during or after the war. All of them shared the deeply reactionary ideas which had ...

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