Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess

Stalin s Englishman The Lives of Guy Burgess Guy Burgess is the most important complex and fascinating of The Cambridge Spies the group of British men recruited to pass intelligence to the Soviets during World War Two and the Cold War Burgess s

  • Title: Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
  • Author: Andrew Lownie
  • ISBN: 9781473627369
  • Page: 208
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Guy Burgess is the most important, complex and fascinating of The Cambridge Spies the group of British men recruited to pass intelligence to the Soviets during World War Two and the Cold War Burgess s story takes us from his student days in 1930s Cambridge, where he was first approached by Soviet scouts, through his daring infiltration of the BBC and the British goverGuy Burgess is the most important, complex and fascinating of The Cambridge Spies the group of British men recruited to pass intelligence to the Soviets during World War Two and the Cold War Burgess s story takes us from his student days in 1930s Cambridge, where he was first approached by Soviet scouts, through his daring infiltration of the BBC and the British government, to his final escape to Russia and lonely, tragic comic exile there In this definitive biography, Andrew Lownie uncovers the true depths of Burgess s penetration and betrayal of the British Intelligence Service His close personal relationships with several high profile men and women are examined including his friendship with Winston Churchill and his family Through interviews with over 100 people who knew Burgess personally, many of whom have never spoken about him before, and the discovery of hitherto secret files on the Cambridge Spies, Andrew Lownie reveals a completely new and intriguing picture of Guy Burgess.

    One thought on “Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess”

    1. Intriguing, chilling, and colourful insight into the most famous Cold War espionage case.Guy Burgess has often been thought as the least damaging of the Cambridge spies, however Andrew Lownie’s book argues strongly against this view.Burgess himself is a complex person, charming and repulsive in equal measure, he was the consummate networker. Despite being drunk and openly gay at work when such activity was illegal the fact he wasn’t fired or found out earlier is astounding.Lownie details Bur [...]

    2. If Andrew Lownie, wearing his agent's hat, had tried to flog this as a work of fiction I suspect some publishers would have rejected it as being too far-fetched; the reader would be unable to suspend disbelief. But it's fact, and likely to be as near the truth as is possible in the murky world of espionage. The research that has gone into this immensely readable book is prodigious and there are extensive quotes from a wide variety of sources. Burgess was a basically dreadful man with some attrac [...]

    3. I always wondered about Burgess and I gleaned that he was a mess of a person - until now! I hav read the biog. and it tells me in a clear detailed manner that he was a very well educated but slovenly character who wielded his craft of soviet spying with finesse. His life after fleeing to Moscow was a comfortable but terribly lonely one; he was in love with his England and never settled to social life and language in Russia. the book is very well written and is a 'page turner'.

    4. Having read numerous books about the Cambridge Spies both collectively and individually, I have to say that this tells me nothing particularly new about Burgess, his lifestyle or his motivations. However it is a fascinating read because of the huge level of detail it gives to his multitudinous relationships, both personal and professional. The fact that he got away with his treachery for so long given his almost daily drunken indiscretions is an indictment of the cosy complacency that existed wi [...]

    5. On one hand, anyone with an interest in the 1930 to 1950s Cambridge/Moscow spy ring of Philby, Blunt, Maclean, Caincross and Burgess must wonder if there is anything left to say. On the other, there is such an evergreen fascination with the spies, the politics, the morality and the culture which fostered such a scandal, readers still wonder how it happened. And after reading this book, I wonder how much has changed in the last 100 years.Andrew Lownie is an expert biographer and tells his version [...]

    6. I enjoyed this, though I'm not sure I buy Lownie's assertion that of the Cambridge Spies, Burgess did the most damage. It's possible, but it's also impossible to tell. The Russians themselves had doubts about this drunken and wildly promiscuous party boy, and much of what Burgess gave them (suitcases full) wasn't even translated. Burgess was certainly in a position (multiple times) to supply the most sensitive communications and papers, so there will always be questions regarding the damage done [...]

    7. The full story of the Englishman who became a Soviet spy and fled to Russia in May 1951 with Donald Maclean. The author promises to reveal how and why this privileged, public school educated individual chose communism and Russia over England. But first the life which was punctuated with sexual licence (Burgess was homosexual) and excessive drinking from an early age. He was in many respects a total ass but a talented and bright one. Highly regarded by the Foreign Office from where he could have [...]

    8. 4.5* This biography of the notorious spy Guy Burgess recounts his life from birth through to premature death in Moscow, aged fifty-two in 1963. After spending his formative years at the naval college Dartmouth and Eton, Burgess attended Trinity College, Cambridge. It was there that he embraced communism and was allegedly recruited as a Soviet agent.He went on to provide the Soviets with information throughout a career that encompassed stints in the BBC, Foreign Office and working as an intellige [...]

    9. This was a spy. Guy Burgess, at the heart of British foreign policy, gave away the crown jewels. For what? The obsessive impulse to help the soviets.

    10. 3.5. Burgess is so repellant as a human that it's hard to enjoy reading about him at all. Also, IMO it's a stretch to think of Burgess as the most important of the Cambridge spies. Still, interesting to read.

    11. Must be the definitive biography of Burgess, it is a masterpiece. Like the excellent author -- who writes beautifully -- says thanks to previous efforts many people's perception of Burgess was of a witty shambolic homosexual predator. This, however, puts that image firmly to bed -- so to speak -- as yes he was all of those but he was also perhaps the greatest furnisher of crucial information to the Soviets from revealing to them the duplicitousness of France -- that was helped by his close relat [...]

    12. I would guess this is the definitive biography of a fascinating character. Couldn't help reading it with the brilliant but glamourised portrayal of Burgess by Alan Bates in the Alan Bennett BBC film 'An Englishman Abroad' in mind. Derek Jacobi also did him very entertainingly in a gripping film about the Cambridge spies. A CBC interview of him in Moscow I just discovered on YouTube however reminded me of Dudley Moore in one of his posh characters so not quite so impressive. Ultimately a tale of [...]

    13. Fascinating biography of Guy Burgess, the third man (depending on how you're counting) of the Cambridge Spy Ring. Burgess is a remarkable person — capricious, waspish, totally self-centred, but also charming and brilliant. It's difficult not to be impressed at how his intellect manages to carry him to the BBC, MI5, MI6 and the Foreign Office despite his obvious and unhidden (quite the opposite) personality flaws. While it is arguable he could have reached much higher positions had he been less [...]

    14. The Burgess and Maclean defection occurred while I was a seven-year-old and didn't mean much to me at the time, however, the actions of this ring of traitors have been in the news off and on throughout my life and has become an interest as it was later followed by the Profumo crisis. I found this book difficult to follow through his early years and there have been conflicting accounts of some of his life and when and why he chose the path that he did. Once Burgess moves to Washington and the def [...]

    15. Excellent book. Should say I won a free copy of this book though a giveaway.So informative and detailed but in a really interesting, story telling way. It's so detailed on how Guy Burgess became what he was, through school, uni, civil service, the BBC, but it reads like a thriller, a spy story of the highest calibre. I'm putting this on the Christmas list for several relatives, I'd pass on my copy usually but I am keeping it. Definitely think I would get more from a second reading and it wouldn [...]

    16. Lownie's "Stalin's Englishman" is an engaging, well-written, and (most importantly) well-researched exploration of Guy Burgess' life. I read this as a complete novice to the topic, but I found it very readable. Lownie does an excellent job at putting forward the information and interpreting the importance of Burgess--without inserting a strong voice of judgment.I read this book after winning it from a Giveaway, and I'm very glad I entered! I recommend this book to anyone interested in the histo [...]

    17. Absolutely gripping. A fascinating account of Burgess's life that is extremely thoroughly researched yet never gets bogged down in dry detail. Colourful, entertaining and so informative. I loved it and I learned a great deal about an absolutely fascinating man who lived an extraordinary life.

    18. I've always been fascinated by the Cambridge group of spies that operated between the thirties and the fifties at the highest level of British government. The most prominent of this group was Kim Philby. But another important part of the group of four ( Philby, Maclean, Blunt) was an odd man named Guy Burgess.Burgess was a cross mix of interesting characteristics he was a gossip, a drunk, a sexual libertine, and for most of his career a spoiled brat who worked little. But he also stole more than [...]

    19. The title of this book is a bit misleading as it would suggest that there was some rapport between Guy Burgess and the Soviet dictator. Stalin is however barely mentioned in this book, which is fairly strange given that Burgess betrayed his own country for that of Uncle Joe. Guy Burgess is not a sympathetic character in any sense of the word, a privileged drunkard and a snob, who seems to have become a spy partly for the fun of it. This is also the story of systematic incompetence, how the Briti [...]

    20. I've been interested in Guy Burgess and the Cambridge Spies for a long time and always assumed that Philby was the true mastermind behind them all. Lownie takes the tack that Burgess was in some ways the man who kept it all going. I think he makes his case. What's fascinating to me is how long it took for people to have doubts about him. Burgess may have been golden boy with the right social connections but for so much of his career he seems to be the guy who showed up at work in clothes he'd sl [...]

    21. I enjoyed this book very much. It is researched to an amazing extent and provides a extremely complete image of Guy Burgess. It reads well and gives you with the opportunity to come to your conclusions as to why he became a spy for the then Soviet Union. The book also contains enough peripheral information that it almost like reading a case study as to why he became a spy and was not found out. There were countless clear indications that were ignored. Because it relates to so many other things t [...]

    22. I suspect that even today we may find people who will defend Burgess' actions as those of a tourist who got caught up with a friend when he went to visit Russia in 1951. As one contemplates how much he clearly seems to have missed life in London, albeit '30s - '40s London) as he lived his Moscow life in the '50s-'60, you start to feel real empathy for a man (yes, even a homosexual man) who led what, in retrospect, seems to have been a wasted life. He knew all about how bad the Soviet system had [...]

    23. Traitor or victim?A fascinating insight into one of history's most complex characters. A typical English privileged public school boy who became a lifelong communist. Andrew Lownie 's research is extensive and his book is objective, it doesn't try to make Burgess' betrayal into an heroic act rather He acknowledges the crime without overdoing the outrage of it. His analysis of Guy Burgess' personality made me even feel a bit sorry for the spy who eventually ended up in the cold.

    24. I agree with the description on the front cover: "matchless, meticulous, magnificent, masterly, astonishing, fascinating". But I do not agree with "definitive". I do not believe a book about Guy Burgess can ever be definitive. Some things about him will remain hidden, other things will eventually be uncovered. More will be learned about this slovenly (when he wanted to be) and immaculately groomed (when he wanted to be) man in years to come. Of that I am certain.

    25. 3.5/4 - Found it very difficult to follow and it is very slow until Burgess goes to Washington. I'd rather have information about events, political climate instead of every single lover/friend he made. On the other hand, I liked how Lownie didn't try to "condemn" his treachery but looked into why he did what he did. Overall, it is well - researched, very detailed but at times feels rather dull.

    26. Anyone interested in the Cambridge spies will find this a very interesting book. Outsiders and attention seekers often take very unusual paths in life. Epater a bourgeoisie!

    27. Incredibly detailed biography of Guy Burgess and his fellows. Makes one feel most of Britain’s upper class is comprised of homosexuals.

    28. Intriguing personality, not particularly likeable but at times I felt a certain sympathy. Clearly his own securities made him an easy target for The Russians but I never felt he became a spy because he was passionate about communism or because of a deep ideology , he just fell into it . Lownie manages to humanise an unsavoury character who ultimately was a traitor to his country and those around him. Perhaps a little too detailed but overall a compelling read.

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