Spies, Lies and Exile in Russia: The Extraordinary Story of George Blake

Simon Kuper. New Press, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62097-375-2
Journalist Kuper (Soccernomics) delivers a colorful yet glancing portrait of British double agent George Blake, who died in Moscow in 2020 at age 98. Drawing on a 2012 interview he conducted with Blake in Russia, Kuper struggles to understand how the former MI6 agent, who was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and an Egyptian-Jewish father who had served in the British Army during WWI, became one of England's most notorious traitors, suspected of having given Moscow the identifies of several hundred spies from 1953 until his arrest in 1961. Kuper offers several theories, including the "deterministic" worldview Blake acquired from his childhood interest in Calvinism, the poverty he witnessed in Egypt while visiting relatives, his Russian studies in Cambridge, and the Marxist literature he read while being held prisoner in North Korea during the Korean War. But Blake's personality and true motivations remain out of reach, and Kuper doesn't shed much light on the thinking behind his exhaustive confession ("Once he had begun spilling the beans, he just kept on spilling"), or his life in Moscow after escaping from a British prison in 1966 ("He stopped striving for paradise, and learned to enjoy the simple things"). Espionage buffs hoping for insight into this enigmatic spy will be disappointed . (May)
Reviewed on : 03/25/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-62097-376-9
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