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February 21 , 2010

Stalin's Englishman

The Lives of Guy Burgess


A Guardian Book of the Year. The Times Best Biography of the Year. Mail on Sunday Biography of the Year.

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'Andrew Lownie's biography of Guy Burgess, Stalin's Englishman ... shrewd, thorough, revelatory.' William Boyd

'In the sad and funny Stalin's Englishman, [Lownie] manages to convey the charm as well as the turpitude.' Craig Brown

Guy Burgess was the most important, complex and fascinating of 'The Cambridge Spies' - Maclean, Philby, Blunt - all brilliant young men recruited in the 1930s to betray their country to the Soviet Union. An engaging and charming companion to many, an unappealing, utterly ruthless manipulator to others, Burgess rose through academia, the BBC, the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6, gaining access to thousands of highly sensitive secret documents which he passed to his Russian handlers.

In this first full biography, Andrew Lownie shows us how even Burgess's chaotic personal life of drunken philandering did nothing to stop his penetration and betrayal of the British Intelligence Service. Even when he was under suspicion, the fabled charm which had enabled many close personal relationships with influential Establishment figures (including Winston Churchill) prevented his exposure as a spy for many years.

Through interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally, many of whom have never spoken about him before, and the discovery of hitherto secret files, Stalin's Englishman brilliantly unravels the many lives of Guy Burgess in all their intriguing, chilling, colourful, tragi-comic wonder.

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