Max Dunbar

spy-out-the-landThere’s been recent literary interest in the famous MI6 traitors of the twentieth century – Ben MacIntyre’s classic book on Kim Philby, and more recently Andrew Lownie’s thoughtful, more sympathetic bio of Guy Burgess. The lives of the Cambridge spies follow a familiar arc – Eton, university, WW2, Secret Service, promotion, ardour, travel, booze – then exposure, a last-moment fade to the Soviet Union, and a final act of lonely, alcohol-assisted decline. (All the spies who ended their days in Moscow – Philby, Burgess, Maclean – seem to have missed England terribly. Lownie’s chapters on Burgess’s last days in Russia make you actually feel sorry for the guy).

Jeremy Duns‘s trilogy of spy books broke the curve. His double agent Paul Dark was converted to the Soviet cause by a moment of love and betrayal at the end of the second world war. By the time we meet him, in…

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