Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Deceiving the Deceivers by S.J. Hamrick

From Publishers Weekly
In a groundbreaking analysis of one of the most famous Cold War espionage cases, Hamrick, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, asserts that British intelligence had identified Donald Maclean as a Soviet agent earlier than the accepted date of spring 1951. He goes on to explain his doubts about both Kim Philby's prowess as spy and the veracity of Philby's book, My Silent War. Writing with a highly specialized knowledge of the intelligence institutions and their history, Hamrick painstakingly identifies anomalies in the NSA's Venona archive of decoded Soviet intelligence and examines complementary London and Moscow sources. Convinced that London still has much to hide about its past, Hamrick maintains that MI5 not only knew far earlier than 1952 about Maclean but argues forcefully that during 1949–1950 it ran a disinformation initiative in which Philby was used as an unwitting foil to hoodwink Moscow about Anglo-American military capability. His subversive recasting of the Philby-Maclean-Burgess case will fascinate and challenge all those interested in Cold War history.

I found bits and pieces of this book interesting but not all of the book. I actually did not finish it but read 2/3s of it. (I did feel guilty about not finishing it.) First off, I had never heard of the Venona archive which would be interesting to ANYONE LIKING ESPIONAGE! But Hamrick really doesn't like Philby and I began to get tired of hearing how pathetic Hamrick believes Philby's espionage techniques to be. I enjoyed hearing small bits of personal information about Maclean, Burgess and Philby which made their espionage seem more interesting. I learned that Philby never forgave Burgess for leaving with Maclean that night and that all three died very lonesome, alcohol infused, and underappreciated within the U.S.S.R. Great if you know some of the original Cambridge Spies story but I feel disjointed if you're new to the subject. Try reading Philby's autobiography first to cop a feel---"My Silent War."

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