cover image The Ingenious Mr. Pyke: Inventor, Fugitive, Spy

The Ingenious Mr. Pyke: Inventor, Fugitive, Spy

Henry Hemming. Public Affairs, $26.99 (544p) ISBN 978-1-61039-577-9

Geoffrey Pyke, described in his 1948 Times of London obituary as “one of the most original if unrecognized figures of the present century,” always seemed to find himself in the right place at the right time, as Hemming (Abdulnasser Gharem) documents in this masterful biography. In July 1914, with Europe on the verge of war, Pyke talked his way into a position with Reuters as special correspondent in Copenhagen. He was soon captured by the Germans and sent to the Ruhleben concentration camp, from which he escaped, writing a bestselling book about the experience. That alone makes for a riveting read, but Pyke’s story was far from over. Hemming details how Pyke also made lasting innovations in educational theory, criticized Nazi anti-Semitism, aided the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, convinced Winston Churchill that an aircraft carrier made out of reinforced ice was a good idea, and was suspected of being a Soviet spy. Hemming’s superlative text is nearly as nimble as Pyke’s mind, and he reveals who this remarkable innovator really was. B&w photos. (May)